gun violence

Cost of Gun Violence: Report Shows Each Shooting Injury Costs DC Taxpayers $783K

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An analysis from the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) shows just how much shootings might be costing taxpayers in the District.

"We're trying to have the everyday resident understand that they are paying for the cost of gun violence," NICJR Executive Director David Muhammad told the News4 I-Team. "To show people that even if someone you know has not been shot or you have not been shot, you still pay."

His organization has conducted reports for about 20 cities around the United States.

"Almost always I get a surprise that the cost is so high... particularly when I say this is a low-end estimate," he said.

When someone is shot, there's a huge response from multiple government agencies.

"We looked up those salaries and, proportionate to their time, connected to the time they spend on a scene. But we also looked at what's the average length of a shooting investigation," Muhammad said.

In addition to the crime scene response, the NICJR looked at costs with hospitalization, the criminal justice process, incarceration, victim support and lost revenue in D.C.

"Our analysis showed that injury shootings costs, each one, $783,000 to taxpayers. So, that is an everyday taxpayer paying nearly $1 million per injury shooting," Muhammad said.

When a shooting turns into a homicide here in the District, the analysis showed the cost doubled to almost $1.5 million.

Harvard Medical School Dr. Zirui Song followed thousands of gunshot survivors and found their healthcare spending increased times four in the first year.

"Society as a whole, taxpayers or workers, through wages foregone, are footing the lion's share of the bill for the direct medical costs stemming from nonfatal firearm injuries," said Dr. Song.

Dr. Song found little of the healthcare spending is paid out of pocket: "96% of that increased spending was paid for by self-insured employers, our Medicare program through general revenues and taxes, or through private insurers."

"We have a whole strategic plan to reduce violence in Washington, D.C.," said Muhammad.

The NICJR also compiled a Gun Violence Reduction Strategic Plan commissioned by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). It includes 16 recommendations experts say could help reduce the violence we've seen.

According to the CJCC, "the strategic plan was compiled based on evidence-based practices, and discussions with representatives from various government agencies and community-based organizations in the District."

"So, in partnership with the mayor's office, we put out the strategic plan that we're hoping gets implemented. And so part of what we're doing on this trip is meeting with city officials to say, where are we on implementing the plan and early stages," Muhammad said.

News4 reached out to the District to find out which parts of the plan had already been implemented, but did not hear back yet.

"We should understand why there needs to be an investment on the front end with effective violence intervention efforts because effective violence prevention efforts costs far less than shootings themselves, but can not only save lives, but save money, " Muhammad said.

According to the cost analysis report, if the District were able to reduce gun violence by 20%, it could save the government as much as $178 million every year.

Story by Shawn Yancy and Rick Yarborough; shot by Steve Jones and Jeff Piper; edited by Jeff Piper

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