Gun Violence | The Costs Are Huge

StopViolenceWe pay a high price in the U.S. for our lack of action to curb gun violence. It is inexcusable how little is done to combat the spread of weapons of carnage. Especially disturbing is how large percentages of the general population think smart measures should be taken, yet, political forces prevent it.

The price we pay is obvious when we see the stories of police violence toward citizens, shootings of police, murders, robberies, and senseless horrible mass killings. People are understandably fearful for their lives and those of their children and loved ones. Some segments of our society are in much greater danger than most. We must try to turn the tide against this.

Besides the emotional and societal costs, another price we all pay is in actual monetary cost. This isn’t reported as often. It doesn’t carry the visual impact of a shooting or senseless crime. Media wants news and stories that grab an audience. The cost in dollars to every person in the country is very high at over $700 per year. The cost to victims and their families is enormous.

Mother Jones published an in-depth piece in the spring of 2015 about the monetary costs of gun violence. This is the link. I urge you to read the entire thing. It tells of a couple who were victims of shooting after a minor car collision. The one who recovered enough to tell her story speaks of the costs in millions for her care. Others are highlighted as well. They come from all segments of our society. Many were innocent victims.

The writers point out how political forces in Washington D.C. have effectively banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from funding research on injury and death from gun violence. Funding constraints don’t allow studies to help us understand the complexities and impacts of the problem of gun violence. No relevant studies have been published since 2005. Inaction is not part of a solution.

Many of the findings by the Mother Jones writers are summarized in this brief video. Much more detail is presented in their published story.

 


I urge you to speak up about your feelings on gun violence. Call or write to your senators and congress person. Support efforts in your local community to discuss the issues and reduce the division and danger. Take actions to help bring people together.


 

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25 thoughts on “Gun Violence | The Costs Are Huge

  1. Yes, all true. I was struck by this statement in the report, coming just before the $700 per person figure you cite:

    AT $229 BILLION, THE toll from gun violence would have been $47 billion more than Apple’s 2014 worldwide revenue and $88 billion more than what the US government budgeted for education that year. Divvied up among every man, woman, and child in the United States, it would work out to more than $700 per person.

    So far as I can determine, the figures do not include the cost of firearms themselves, most of which are purchased for “self-defense”. An AR-15 costs about $1,000, more with various accessories such as laser sights, high capacity ammo clips and, of course the ammunition. It is very popular, with sales skyrocketing after each mass killing. Crime is actually falling across the country – Dallas reports that violent crime there is at a 50-year low. I heard that on the news today. But people will spend that $1,000 plus on a gun they don’t need rather than invest it in college for their kids or invest it for retirement.

    I’m totally sympathetic to your view, Jim, but frankly I can’t see any Republican pol caring a fig about any constituent’s letter on this. That’s because his district or state has been gerrymandered so he/she doesn’t have to. The only answer I offer is to vote Democratic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As to the gerrymandered districts, I agree with you. They are insulated from conflicting viewpoints about this and many other problems. I’d change the way we elect. Get rid of this system.

      Thank you for the extensive comments, Jim.

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    • Anyone who actually is a fiscal conservative would be in favor of less gun violence. Want to wring out fraud, waste, abuse, and excess?? Well, let me tell ya how we could start…

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  2. “allow studies to help us understand the complexities and impacts of the problem of gun violence.”
    I appreciate your understanding that guns are a real problem. There can’t be a mass murder by a lone man with a knife! You can’t attack and kill indiscriminately with a knife. No, but with a gun you can control a group of people and you can kill until you are killed.
    However, I doubt studies are needed to understand the impact this violence has on society or a neighborhood.
    Sadly, I’ve become keenly aware that I leave the house risking my life because I wear the wrong skin color. Only in the last 2 years did it become clear that I am not just seen as a woman, a person. No, I’m seen first for the color of my skin, and that color can get me killed!

    And yes, again, the media licks up the blood of victims and spit it out for ratings and cash!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I understand what you are saying and agree. Studies won’t fix it. It might be stepping in the right direction.

      A good non-white friend of ours lives in Chicago. He is constantly aware of the dangers to him and his family merely because of how they look. It is sad.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. In my opinion, you don’t wear the wrong skin color. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • This is very important. “…fears about the “chill” that the presence of weapons may create.”

      His argument about suppressing liberal thought and discussion in classrooms is important. I think both sides of issues, liberal and conservative, should be discussed openly in the college classrooms. Young people need to see how both sides think and approach ideas. It should be done in a safe and non-threatening environment. Knowing some fellow students in the room are carrying a weapon puts a serious chill on expression and thought. It isn’t right.

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  3. Few analysts take social cost calculations seriously. They are best used for as fodder for arguments rather than rigorous policy analysis.

    For instance, the social cost of abortion is four times greater than the social cost of guns cited by Mother Jones – just on lost income alone. Should we then ban abortion on the basis of social cost?

    Aside from that, the inclusion of suicide in social cost of gun violence is a non-starter. Means are elastic. After firearms, the second most common method of suicide is suffocation. Should we tabulate the social cost of plastic bags and rope?

    More to the point, there is an extremely low correlation between national suicide rates and firearm availability. For instance, in the U.S. where firearms are readily available, the suicide rate is 12.1 per 1,000. In Australia (with strict gun control) the rate is 10.4, however in Switzerland (where almost every household is required to have an assault weapon) the rate is 9.2.

    Lethal violence is more tightly bound to demographics than it is to weapon control efforts, as my colleagues at the Department of Corrections can attest. Even in the strict confines of prison, the availability of lethal weapons is almost universal as is lethal violence. There simply are no limits to creativity and will.

    In a society where 3D printers and chemicals are readily available on Amazon, do you really think that you can keep weapons out of the hands of people who want them? The only thing you can do – is control the price – for a while.

    At least in my opinion, the current call for gun control is more about people poking a stick in the eye of their political and cultural opponents than it is to accomplish anything productive.

    If we are truly interested in social good, we need to look at the will to kill rather than the means. As mentioned above, Switzerland is a well armed society where almost every household is mandated to contain an assault rifle – yet their homicide and suicide rate are extraordinarily low, 0.5 per thousand population and mass killings are almost unheard of. On the other hand Honduras (where gun ownership is strictly controlled) has a homicide rate of 84 per thousand and mass killings are a weekly occurrence.

    In a nutshell, the issue is not guns, it is culture.

    We live in a culture soaked in violence. In short, the problem is not the second amendment – it is the first. Tonight, I can watch more people gratuitously slaughtered by flipping channels on my television than will actually die violent death in my state for the entire year.

    Toxic media is like dioxin in the water. It is impossible to attribute individual incidents of harm but the results can easily be viewed over a broad population.

    It is cultural cues that are killing people. If we want to stop the violence – we need to make violence less cool.

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    • I agree there are cultural issues we need to address to make ‘violence less cool’. We also need sensible and wisely crafted gun ownership and distribution laws. Culture of violence and the plethora of unregulated guns are both strong influences on the behavior of people. More can be done to in both areas.

      You say there is a low correlation between suicide rates and firearm availability. The opposite can be argued. Multiple studies demonstrate a strong connection between suicide and gun availability. http://bit.ly/29Cw5tX

      As to the Swiss, households are not mandated to contain an assault rifle. The sale, ownership, and carrying of guns is highly regulated by carefully crafted laws in Switzerland. http://bit.ly/29P1TLs

      It isn’t necessary to rid ourselves of guns. I am not arguing for that, nor am I ‘poking a stick in the eye of my political and cultural opponents’. I think we are capable of much smarter behaviors which can lessen the violence.

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      • “You say there is a low correlation between suicide rates and firearm availability. The opposite can be argued.”

        You are more correct about this than I was. I was comparing countries, the review you cite is comparing states, though the authors of the literature review wrote: “The preponderance of current evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for youth suicide in the United States. The evidence that gun availability increases the suicide rates of adults is credible, but is currently less compelling.”

        As to the Swiss, households are not mandated to contain an assault rifle.

        The scope of my statement was too wide. It would have been more accurate to write, all Swiss households containing fit males between the ages of 18 and 34, along with female volunteers are required to contain an assault rifle.

        Interestingly, the wikipedia article you cited reads:

        The personal weapons of the militia can be kept at home as part of the military service.

        whereas another wikipedia article, Military of Switzerland reads:

        The structure of the Swiss militia system stipulates that the soldiers keep their own personal equipment, <b<including all personally assigned weapons, at home (until 2007 this also included ammunition[5])

        Quite an interesting difference between “can” and “stipulates”.

        For my experience in Switzerland, I found them quite fanatic about home defense. One hotel I stayed in had a 105 howitzer hidden in the barn, along with ammunition and the nearby bridges were rigged with plastic explosives. I have since learned that the explosives are gone. I wonder about the howitzer though.

        My point was culture. With all the guns and cannons at hand and plastic explosives bolted to the nearest bridge, the country is amazingly stable and peaceful. This is not accomplished though regulation, it is a product of culture.

        You speak of sensible and wisely crafted gun ownership and distribution laws. I am sorry – but I doubt such laws would work any better than sensible and wisely crafted drug laws.

        We fail when we try to control objects as a proxy for behavior. In the case of drugs, it is addiction and overdose. In the case of guns, it is violence. It is better to address behavior and the people who exhibit that behavior directly.

        In Minnesota we have a law that stipulates an additional two years imprisonment for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. It is almost never used.

        As for common sense…….. hey, we are talking politics here. California just passed a law requiring a NICS check for the purchase of ammunition. Quite interestingly, this is the state where the legislature howled, screamed and stamped its feet over the prospect of requiring a simple valid state id to vote.

        Sensible?

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  4. The NRA has built all this on a foundation of baseless fear. Almost any gun owner will tell you the own/carry their weapon for protection. I always ask, “Protection from what?” A series of unfounded circular NRA talking points follow follow. If you need a firearm to be brave, perhaps you suffer from underlying issues you need to address first.

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    • I worked for the Minneapolis police during the peak of the AIDS epidemic. During that time, the city refused to close three notorious gay bathhouses and two beaches along the Mississippi river where gay men met for anonymous sex. It was estimated that between six and seven AIDS related fatalities per week were attributed to this refusal. This was double the city’s highest homicide rate. It was not until the popular Democratic state senator John Chenoweth was gunned down while soliciting sex by a confused gay man that “Bare-ass beach” was closed down.

      One can blame gay activism for the disaster. One can blame progressive piety. One can blame a lot of things and one can also ask, “why do people have to have casual sex with multiple partners?”

      In the end, it doesn’t matter. It is simply what people do and even though society must bear the social cost, it is still none of our business.

      I don’t blame the NRA for anything, nor do I blame gay activists for the AIDS crisis. LGBT groups, Planned Parenthood and the NRA are the voice of their members and sympathizers. It is called democracy and although we may disagree with them, we need to respect what they are doing.

      What is troubling about politics is that it is no longer about policy, rather has become more about the ancient tribal practice of tearing down the totems and sacred spaces of our rivals.

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    • I totally agree! I think this argument sounds baseless because it is. It is really a dog whistle for something a lot more ugly than what they are willing to admit out loud. That underlying anxiety needs to be addressed so lets get it out in the open and work it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m really sorry about this issue. I’m against gun violence and politics that lead towards it, and I hope there can be a peaceful solution to this problem. Probably the best way to begin is by not owning a gun. If the majority of people own guns, believe me, children know and learn along these lines. Setting a good example to children is a good way to start. Owning guns sets a clear example to everyone: to solve conflicts by force, and children get this message all too clearly, not to mention early in their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It feels like our country is in the grip of a terrible fever. We are certainly in grave danger from guns, but it isn’t just that. The conservatives I hear are twisting the words of the Constitution and the Bible to suit themselves and their twisted, illogical agenda. They won’t be satisfied until we are living in a police state, with full rights going to big corporations and none to citizens. I’m afraid, for the first time in my life. I wish I thought speaking out would make a difference but when I’ve tried, I have literally been shouted down.

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    • Thank you for your thoughts, Melissa. I don’t know what will change us from the course we are on. Melanie and I have talked about it and both feel it will take some other serious threat to our well-being. I have imagined an impending asteroid impact, volcano, tidal wave on the NW coast, etc. These are big, but big enough? She has imagined some sort of human threats to our country. None of these are good.

      We know it will take a change of mind from confrontation and encampment to one of coming together and compromise. It is the only way toward progress.

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      • I agree, Jim. I know there are pockets of people who are quite dedicated to spreading love and tolerance in the world, as well as developing sustainable ways to be in our world. It gives me hope.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment. Too many people have given up on the idea of changing this problem. I remain convinced we can actually accomplish much more. It takes hard work, raising your voice, protest, and voting for the right people. The easy way out is to give up and leave things as they are. That’s not good enough.

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