House subcommittee probes financial toll of mass shootings

Politics
Yesenia Hernandez

Yesenia Hernandez, granddaughter to Nicolas Toledo, who was killed during Monday’s Highland Park., Ill., Fourth of July parade, brings flowers to a memorial for Toledo and six others who lost their lives in the mass shooting, Wednesday, July 6, 2022, in Highland Park. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — A House subcommittee on oversight and investigations held a hearing Tuesday on the economic impact mass shootings have on communities and taxpayers.

“From emergency medical care, hospital stays and physical treatment to mental health support, the cost of gun violence to survivors and their families can be staggering,” according to a memo sent to committee members.

The annual cost of gun violence nationally is $280 billion, as stated in one report.

In the report, one survivor calculated the cost of being struck during a shooting — including hospitalizations, therapy, medical expenditures and lost income, to be approximately $5 million.

The hearing comes on the heels of multiple mass shootings across the U.S., including the attacks in Greenwood, Indiana, Highland Park, Illinois, Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas.

In the wake of a mass shooting, many communities “do not fully recover because of subsequent disinvestment, or the withdrawal or reduction of investment,” according to the memo.

Sarah Burd-Sharps, a senior director of research at Everytown for Gun Safety, said looking at gun violence from an economic standpoint shows the U.S. is facing an “epidemic.”

“The economic consequence of America’s gun violence epidemic is $557 billion a year,” she told the committee. “The government share of these costs — paid for by taxpayers — is $12.6 billion a year. That’s nearly $35 million each day that could instead be invested in essential public goods like education, workforce development and building healthier, safer, more sustainable communities.”

The financial costs continue long after the makeshift memorials for the victims are gone.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the May 14 racist mass shooting that killed 11 Black people will impact “an entire generation of children.” Aside from the emotional toll taken on the community, Brown pointed to unbudgeted costs the city is still incurring.

“In just the two weeks after the shooting, city departments — police, fire, sanitation — spent over $500,000 of unbudgeted dollars on overtime and related services,” he said. “That amount has continued to significantly increase as city government continues to play a vital role in the community’s healing process and public safety needs.”

Brown doesn’t believe communities should be solely on the hook for mass shootings; he said gun manufacturers should be as well.

“They should suffer liability for these crimes that are being committed,” he said.

Ruchi Singh, an assistant professor at Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, said mass shootings negatively impact the housing market as well.

Singh said there is an average drop of 2.4% in housing prices following a school shooting. That number, according to Singh, does not begin to fade until about seven years after the incident.

In late June, President Joe Biden signed the most sweeping gun violence bill in decades.

The legislation toughened background checks for the youngest gun buyers, keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders and help states put red flag laws in place that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people adjudged to be dangerous.

Biden signed the measure two days after the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a New York law that restricted peoples’ ability to carry concealed weapons. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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