There have already been 128 shootings in the city of Boston this year. Because of advances in medicine, fortunately many of those victims survive.
But surviving a shooting is painful and expensive, and victims aren't alone in their physical and financial suffering. New research shows when it comes to the true cost of gun violence, in one way or another all of us pay.
“It could be something that heals quickly, could be something that somebody could end up in a wheelchair for the rest of their life,” said Molly Baldwin, the CEO and founder of Roca.
Roca is an outreach group located across Massachusetts that’s focused on stopping the cycle of urban violence and poverty. When someone is shot, Roca tries to help them, and their families, get the support and help they need in the days, months, and years following the shooting.
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“Anybody who's a victim of gun violence has had at least one traumatic event. Most of the young people we know have had multiple and often live ongoing, complex trauma,” Baldwin said. ”It could affect their brain, their thinking, their functioning.”
Over time, that trauma spreads from the survivors to their families and ultimately their communities. All must cope with the profound health and economic costs of someone being shot.
“The ripple effects of firearm injuries are deeper and wider and more substantive through a family unit than perhaps we've known before,” said Dr. Zirui Song, an associate professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard medical school and Massachusetts General Hospital.
More on gun violence
In a recently published paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, he makes the economic case for reducing gun violence.
"I think the biggest takeaway from this study is that the health and economic consequences of gun violence in the U.S. and in particular of non-fatal firearm injuries in the U.S. are profound," Song said.
According to the study, the average cost in medical expenses for gunshot survivors soars to $30,000 in just the first year alone. The study found the vast majority of gun violence victims are uninsured or on Medicare or Medicaid, and because of that Song said the public ends up footing the bill.
Taxpayers or workers through wages foregone are footing the lion's share of the bill for the direct medical costs stemming from non-fatal firearm injuries," he said.
According to a study conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety, when you add up the costs of treating victims, prosecuting shooters, and quality of life costs, the United States spends $557 billion dollars per year on firearms injuries
“Not only do the survivors feel the health and economic consequences, but so do their family members and society as a whole,” Song said.
Baldwin laments how normalized gun violence is in America despite the staggering costs to, frankly, all of us.
“What happens when we start raising children thinking that you get shot and maybe you die young and this is the way it is, is it normal? How do you help them be safe?” said Baldwin, “We just keep making things worse.”