A study that concluded that gun violence costs Americans at least $12 billion per year was published on the front page of USA Today on March 5th. The research was conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), an anti-gun advocacy group based in Maryland that received funding through the Tides Foundation, an organization that is funded by George Soros.
Results of the study reportedly showed that deaths and injuries due to gunfire cost society $32 per gun when considering the costs of court proceedings, insurance, and hospitalizations paid for by government programs, particularly Medicaid.
Ted Miller, author of the research, performed a similar study 20 years ago with funding from the National Institute of Justice. Following the Newtown, Connecticut shooting in December of last year, Miller decided to calculate again the costs of gun violence to society.
“I was surprised,” Miller said. “Back in 1994, the costs of drunk driving were substantially higher, but it has reversed.”
Miller said he found that total costs per injury had at least doubled or come close for medical care, psychiatric care, court proceedings, and insurance. In 1992, for example, he found that medical care for a fatal shooting averaged $14,500, while in 2010 the cost was $28,700.
According to Miller, Medicaid covers about 28% of hospital admissions for firearm injuries, 37% of hospital days, and 42% of medical costs. In a related study, Miller said he found that even if people were not on Medicaid at the time of the gunfire injury, about 8% were enrolled in Medicaid afterward. He concluded that “about half of the medical costs borne by Medicaid may be the best estimate.”
Neither Miller, nor USA Today, mentioned that PIRE has advocated against alcohol and tobacco and for increased regulation and tax hikes on items identified as harmful by public health experts.
In contrast, the National Rifle Association reported in January that the number of privately owned guns in the U.S. is at an all-time high, upwards of 300 million, while the firearm accident death rate has fallen to an all-time low, 0.2 per 100,000 population, down 94% since the all-time high in 1904. NRA states that, since 1930, the annual number of firearm accident deaths has decreased 81%, while the U.S. population has more than doubled and the number of firearms has quintupled.