Human, financial costs of gun violence are growing dramatically, health care group says

Last week’s mass shooting amid a Kansas City Super Bowl parade was another reminder that despite claims that more guns make us safer, actual experience shows the opposite to be the case.

Two juveniles are charged in that incident, which killed two and injured 22 others — more than half of whom were children. In its wake, a healthcare non-profit updated a fact sheet showing that gun violence is increasing quickly in the United States and it’s taking a huge toll in several different ways.

The number of guns manufactured in the United States more than doubled from 5.5 in 2010 to 11 million in 2020. Over the same period, gun deaths increased by 43%, according to statistics from the Pew Research Center that were part of a fact sheet compiled by The National Institute for Healthcare Management Foundation.

In Ohio, the trend has been even more stark. The number of gun deaths increased 52% between 2012 and 2021, according to the group Everytown for Gun Safety.

The number of guns floating around seems to have played more than just a coincidental role in those deaths. 

More than half of last year’s 43,000 gun deaths — 56% — were suicides. But more than half of those were done using a gun, with the percentage rising the older a person is, according to Pew. Meanwhile, 81% of the 21,000 murders that took place nationally in 2021 were committed using a gun, Pew reported.

The number of gun deaths in the United States had already overtaken the number of motor vehicle deaths when, in 2020, gun deaths also became the leading cause of death for Americans younger than 19, the fact sheet says. It adds that lack of action on guns by lawmakers has something to do with that.

“In response to the number of deaths and injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents, numerous legislative steps have been taken to improve car and motor vehicle safety over time,” the NIHCM fact sheet says. “Until recently, there had not been any widespread federal legislation in response to gun violence since 1994.”

For every person who dies in the United States by being shot, two survive. And while that is undoubtedly good news for those people and their families, it also comes with enormous costs. Especially for children and adolescent gunshot survivors, being shot can bring months of pain, followed by longer-term problems with mental health and substance abuse, the NIHCM fact sheet said.

There have been attempts to quantify the cost of gun violence in the United States. The fact sheet cited an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that added up 2022 estimates from medical expenses to criminal-justice costs to quality-of-life costs due to gun violence. The total: $557 billion, the article said.

And for the rising generation, rising gun violence is costing something else — a sense of security. 

Since 2013, there have been at least 1,165 cases of gunfire on school grounds, the fact sheet said. That number skyrocketed from 51 in 2013 to 202 in 2021 before dropping back down to 137 last year.

The biggest number occurred in a state with a deeply ingrained gun culture.

“Overall, incidents of gunfire on school grounds have been on the rise since 2013,” the fact sheet said. “Across the U.S., Texas has the highest number of gunfire occurrences on school grounds in this timeframe, resulting in 65 deaths and 88 injuries.”

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