The school shooting that took the lives of 27 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut last week has revived a debate over our nation’s gun laws, sparking a promise from President Obama to take “meaningful action” to prevent future mass shootings and outbreaks of gun violence. More than 19,000 Americans are killed annually in crimes involving guns, meaning at an average daily pace, another 250 people have lost their lives to gun violence in the three days since the Sandy Hook massacre.
And while such violence has obvious human costs, it also comes with a substantial economic cost. A Center for American Progress study of violent crime in eight American cities found that three types of violent crime — homicide, robbery, and aggravated assault — cost taxpayers $3.7 billion each year in higher medical costs, spending on police and courts, and lost productivity from crime victims and criminals. The yearly cost of violent crime in these eight cities averages $320 per taxpayer, the report found:
America’s violent crime rate has been dropping steadily over the last decade, but the share of those crimes in which a firearm was used has remained constant, the report found. And while it measured the cost of violent crime irrespective of the presence or use of a firearm, guns are involved in a substantial amount of assaults and robberies and in two-thirds of homicides:
The report also found that reducing gun-related homicides in individual cities and neighborhoods would lead to substantial increases in home prices, thus leading to increased property tax revenues for cities. A 10 percent reduction in homicides in Boston, for instance, would increase home prices in the city by about $4.4 billion, the report found.