Report says gun violence costs Florida $5 billion a year


  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Money talks, but the annual cost of gun violence in Florida screams.

Assuming you’ve kept up with the gun reform debate across the Sunshine State in recent weeks, the part where money talks – as in an unhealthy number of Republican politicians in Florida are pretty much owned by the National Rifle Association – is pretty evident at this point. But there’s a new dollar amount for us to get our feathers ruffled over.

A new report from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control nonprofit formerly known as the Legal Community Against Violence, finds that Floridians are spending more than $5 billion per year on the direct costs of firearm-related injuries. That particular number in and of itself, as totally unhinged as it may seem, comprises healthcare- and law enforcement-related expenses, lost income over time, and costs employers are forced to bear following a worker’s injury, among other outlays.

Per the report, which was published following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Florida sees an average of 827 gun-related homicides, 1,538 gun-related suicides, 1,694 nonfatal interpersonal shootings and 1,773 unintentional shootings a year. The result: Healthcare expenditures and associated costs begin to skyrocket as more resources are required, and for a longer period of time.

The Giffords Center writes: “The more than 6,000 shootings each year in Florida are a serious drain on the economy. Based on the gun violence-related expenses we can directly measure, including healthcare costs ($228 million per year), law enforcement and criminal justice expenses ($383 million per year), costs to employers ($29 million per year) and lost income (nearly $4.4 billion per year), the initial price tag of gun violence in Florida is well over $5 billion per year.”

The report goes on to add that much of this price is paid by the public, “in part because up to 85 percent of gunshot victims are either uninsured or on some form of publicly funded insurance.” Additionally, law enforcement efforts are funded wholly by taxpayer money. In all, the Giffords Center finds that “the annual cost of gun violence to Florida taxpayers is approximately $950 million.”

Those numbers seem fucking steep, right? But Dr. Tom Gabor, a Palm Beach County-based criminologist and author of Confronting Gun Violence in America, says all of the above is highly plausible when you consider that the national estimate, including lost-quality-of-life calculations, amounts to about $229 billion a year.

Here’s a calculator-friendly example that helps rationalize such a high appraisal, according to Gabor: If the average adult victim makes, say, $50,000 per year and you multiply that by the number of individuals that are affected by the senseless violence annually, then the astounding figure suddenly seems a little less fictional. That’s especially the case if the Giffords Center’s assessment accounts for victims from other years who are still not working due to injuries previously sustained.

But if the state weren’t funneling more than $5 billion a year into costs such as these, what else could Florida afford?

Well, for those who are hungry enough, Florida could afford to buy 10 Egg McMuffin meals from McDonald’s for every single one of the state’s citizens, which, in a less than fantastic way, could help fight hunger. (There are some pretty sobering studies on combating statewide hunger, too.)

Florida also could have bought the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers franchise more than twice over for its reported purchasing cost in 2014, about $2 billion. (But let’s face it: No one wants to claim the fucking Clippers anyway, especially in double-dose form when Central Florida already has to deal with the moans and groans that come with the Orlando Magic.)

Both of those are exceptionally terrible examples, but they're meant to be for the sake of highlighting the absurdity of the fact that fiscal conservatives – you know, what the Republican Party in Florida used to be before they decided that culture-baiting and trolling their constituents was a better route to travel – continue to let these expenses occur, with nary a flinch nor care.

And no, for the sake of actually attempting to legislate a difference, the sham that is the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act – which allows a program to arm teachers and doesn't ban assault weapons – that passed through the Florida House and Senate doesn't count either.

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