In its analysis of the public health cost of gun violence, The Crime Report states that it costs over $2 billion a year in hospital charges to treat victims of firearms related injuries. According to the American Public Health Association, “between [the years] 2000 and 2010, 275,939 individuals were victims of gunfire in the U.S., and received 1.7 million days of hospital charges”. These charges only included costs after the patient was admitted and therefore did not include any charges that would have resulted from visits to the emergency room. Dr. Veerajalandar Allareddy from Ohio estimated that the total cost of charges over the decade for these patients exceeded $18.9 billion.
A study done by the APHA indicated that one in every three patients hospitalized for gun related injuries was actually uninsured. The aforementioned statistics support the idea that there is a need to treat gun control violence in the U.S. as a public health issue as well as a law enforcement challenge. Gun violence has become an issue not only on the micro level, but on the macro level as well, casting an overwhelming financial burden upon America’s healthcare system.
Training doctors in gun control safety issues as part of their professional training might allow them to better connect with those patients who have been victims of firearms related injuries. This would enable them to openly engage in discussions about precautions to take with firearms such as keeping them secure and out of a child’s reach. Once doctors realize the impact that gun violence has on the health care system, progress can be made.
Source: Cara Tabachnick, “The Public Health Cost of Gun Violence”, The Crime Report, November 4, 2013, http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal justice/2013-11-the-public-health-cost-of-gun-violence.
Student Researcher: Natalie Evans (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Debora Paterniti (Sonoma State University)