Gun violence not only kills and injures hundreds of people every year in New Jersey, but it also extracts around $1.2 billion from the Garden State every year. The cited amount is an estimate produced by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and included in a report: Economic Cost of Gun Violence in New Jersey.
The Giffords Center used federal and state documents and statistics – many from 2015 – to tabulate their financial theory and footnote the data in the 24-page report. The center was founded in San Francisco in 1993 following a mass shooting. The center later joined with former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2016. Giffords was gravely wounded when a gunman opened fire at one of her campaign events in 2011, killing six. Their mission is to “form a courageous new force for gun safety that stretches coast to coast.”
The report says New Jersey has been averaging 280 gun-related homicides, 184 gun-related suicides, 764 non-fatal interpersonal shootings, and 599 unintentional shootings per year. The report further reads, “Gun violence in the state exacts a high physical, emotional, and financial toll on families and communities. We often hear about the heartbreak and physical pain these shootings cause, but there is another aspect of the gun violence epidemic that doesn’t receive as much attention: the overwhelming financial cost.”
The financial cost, the Law Center notes, is mostly covered by the public. Up to 85% of gunshot victims, the report says, are either uninsured or on some form of public-funded insurance. The Law Center breaks the average of over 2,000 total shootings each year in the following direct costs:
Healthcare $93 million per year
When a person is shot, a response from the medical system is almost always necessary. According to cost estimates developed by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), which the report says the federal government relies on, each gun-related death generates approximately $49,164 in medical expenses. That includes everything from the ambulance to the hospital and processing medical claims. When a shooting is not fatal, medical bills tend to be much higher, the report says, coming in at $63,289.
Police & Criminal Justice – $131 million per year
A gun crime or incident is usually followed by an extensive police investigation, which can be costly, with or without an arrest. An arrest will start a criminal justice tab, from trial to prison, if authorities get a conviction. And while their estimates include police and prosecutors’ public-funded salaries, PIRE estimates that a fatal shooting costs $439,217 to investigate. Nonfatal shootings usually carry shorter sentences or do not end in arrest, and they are cheaper – an estimated $8,391. The report says that New Jersey taxpayers spend approximately $62,456 per year incarcerating each inmate in state prisons.
Employer Costs – $8 million per year
Gun violence enters the workforce when businesses have to cover for employees who are unable to work, temporarily or permanently, due to serious injury or death. “In the case of a death or debilitating injury, the employer will have to bear the costs of locating, hiring, and training a replacement,” the report says. The PIRE cost-of-injury model estimates that a single, nonfatal shooting requiring hospitalization costs employers an average of almost $2,500, while a fatal shooting costs employers closer to $10,000.
Lost Income – $918 million per year
On the personal level, victims lose wages, as does the incarcerated perpetrator. “This cost is imposed directly on victims, perpetrators, and their families,” the report says. According to PIRE data, the average value of lost work for a single fatal shooting is $1,742,722, while nonfatal shooting victims – who need hospitalization – rack up losses of about $81,559. “The $918 million that New Jersey families lose in income every year translates into approximately $95 million in lost tax revenue, a cost borne initially by the government, and ultimately by taxpayers who must make up the difference or receive decreased services.”
New Jersey has some of the strictest and toughest gun laws in the country. If you are convicted of a gun-related offense, you may be facing 5-10 years in state prison. In addition, pursuant to the Graves Act, you may be required to serve a minimum term of incarceration before you are eligible for parole. You may be obligated to serve three years or half of the sentence imposed, whichever is greater.
Accordingly, if you are facing gun charges or criminal charges in general, it’s important that you contact an experienced Hackensack criminal defense attorney at the Tormey Law Firm.