The Social and Economic cost of the gun violence in AmericaSamantha FallAmerican Government December 4, 2017The Social and Economic cost of the gun violence in AmericaAbstractOver the past few years, the global media has been treated to a series of mass shooting and gun related homicide cases in the United States. As one of the most powerful and largest nations in the world, there is an interest from various people from within and outside the nation. Gun ownership and the laws that surround their access and use among the civilians have become a controversial topic of debate due to the sensitivity of the matter. This is because the number of small and large guns in the hands of civilians in America is higher than any other developed countries.
The point of contention however at this particular point in time is the laws and activism that surround gun ownership situations. This paper will seek to find out the justification of those supporting stringent gun laws and those that do not agree with restring the guns before discussing the effect of the massive civilian gun ownership in the country.IntroductionBy the end of November in 2017, there were nearly 300 mass shootings in the United States of America. In these incidents, approximately 3000 casualties have been reported with almost double the number of the victims seriously injured. Among these shooting incidents, three stand out because their effects were not only tragic but extremely devastating. These include the Las Vegas country concert shooting that took 58 lives, the Texas Church shooting with 26 worshipers dead, and the Orlando nightclub shooting infamous by the shooter Omar Mateen where 49 lives were taken. According to experts, these deaths are not only similar but the characteristics of the entire situations resembled (Duggan, 2016). In these cases, all the guns used were purchased completely legally, the shooters had no prior criminal records, and the targeted areas of attack were usually where normal defenseless citizens were gathered together.
Many security reporters also note that the amount of deaths per incident seems to be increasing due to the types of guns used and the target areas. With these statistics, it is difficult not to question gun ownership laws and culture in the country. To understand this, the paper will use a comparative analysis of the argument by the pro-gun and anti-gun activists in the country. In the end, there will be a deduction of the social and economic cost of the gun violence in America. The United States laws have given rights to citizens to own guns.
The 2nd amendment gives an American citizen to freely own a firearm. As a result, there are millions of Americans who own guns. The homicide rates in the United States are three times as high as other developed countries. According to Donohue Steven (2015), violence in any area is complex and cannot be attributed to a single cause. The outcome of the incident depends on the weapons or the methods used. There are numerous laws address guns ownership and all types that range from small handguns and shotguns to the larger machine guns, semi automatic, and assault rifles. Whether the injury is self-inflicted or not, the chances of fatalities are higher when there is a heavier gun involved. The relationship between gun laws and gun violence has been debated heavily over the past few years.
The issue is complicated by other factors such as levels of urbanization, poverty, demographics, unemployment and organized crime rates and substance abuse. Different laws have different implementation levels, which may have a significant impact on the level of violence in certain states (Duggan, 2016). Guns that used by criminals are also more likely to have originated from legal purchases. A gun may be purchased by someone with no criminal record and make its way to one that intends to undertake illegal acts. People with a criminal history may be prevented from purchasing guns; however, they still find a way to get them.Because of the mass murders that are never ending in the country, there is a huge appeal for a solution. Experts such as Mustard (2017) agree that a focus on illegal gun possessions proves to be less helpful since most of the deaths in the U.
S. are not similar. Unintentional shootings and suicides make up a significant number of deaths but mass shootings are the ones doing the most. Laws passed by the legislative mainly focus on the actions following the misuse of the guns.
Such legislation focuses on longer sentences for those found guilty, more resources for the police, metal detectors, and voluntary buybacks. Others such as Mustard (2017) agree that these laws already exist and there is sufficient manpower to enforce them, why is there a problem when it comes to reducing them. The answer lies in understanding what the pro-gun activists and the anti-gun activists have to say on the issue.
The Social Cost of Gun Violence in AmericaApart from the lives and human suffering that gun violence brings about, the true cost is way more than just statistical accounts. The social cost of the massive and frequent homicide and mass shooting cannot be easily quantified. Perhaps the biggest cost is that frequent gun related violence incidents damage reputation of the nation as a whole. With the American society being regarded as the most advanced and developed in the world, its leaders have had justification to intervene in other nations that are oppressive to its citizens. However, as the gun violence statistics escalate, many have started questioning whether the USA can stand as the ‘clean, big brother’ (Mustard, 2017). In other words, the negative international media attention on gun violence has painted America as a lawless, dangerous and murderous nations.
Secondly, the death toll affect the social fabric of the nation both directly and indirectly. Families that lose breadwinners and loved ones in droves cannot be compensated by monetary advancement. Majority of the deaths and victim’s age is between 14 and 44 according to Homeland Security statistics (Donohue and Steven, 2015). These are the youthful and energetic human resource that are cut short by a bullet at its prime.The disability number of the citizens increase when gun violence goes up. Unfortunately, numbers of those that are maimed for life are rarely highlights in the media as those that perish.
Patients from gunshot wounds spend long time in hospitals and use so much money for treatment and rehabilitation. Experts have warned that these has a direct effect on the mental health of both victims and their families due to the trauma that follows these incidences. Lastly, the broader community suffers when gun violence escalates. Potential growth and development in certain areas where gun violence is prone can stall. This is because such areas become red-zoned and people move out to avoid these situations.
Instead of focus on important issues, authorities are forced to divert their attention and resources to curb insecurity. The Economic Cost of gun Violence in America Over the past decade, over 320,000 deaths have occurred in America by bullet and 750,000 injuries have occurred during the same period by the same means. These deaths have occurred from both lawmakers, mass shooters, individual homicides and accidental situations. Thus, it is incorrect to think of gun violence as only a situation where an insane mass shooter ransacks people before taking lives.
Gun violence is broader to include the situations that have been mentioned. Police shootings attribute to almost 20% of total deaths and injuries and active crime while individual homicides take up to 60% of these numbers (Donohue and Steven, 2015). The rest of 20% goes on record as accidents, self-defense and minor incidents. The biggest loser in this situation is the American taxpayer who uses $229 billion annually for gun related cases as Donohue and Steven (2015) show. This further means that $12.
8 million are used daily on cases that involve gun violence. These billions are paid out directly and indirectly in ways which drain the economy. Economic dent is the second way that the country is paying for the runaway violence attributed to the gun. The first aspect of gun costs start with the emergency treatment and rehabilitation that goes to the victims.
The government caters for emergency care in terms of ambulance, surgery and other costs that survivors of gun shots undergo. This means that initial costs take up to only 20% of the treatment and resuscitation of injuries that come with bullets. The actual bill comes from the long term hospitalization and rehabilitation of victims. According to hospital statistics trauma from gun injuries and homicides account for almost $410 million per annum in direct mental treatment cost and disability care fees. These costs sometimes get footed by the government or the individual’s account.
In addition to this, the legal and incarceration fees and costs remain high for suspects and the state according to Duggan (2016). The due process of criminal justice is expensive and costs of jailing convicted criminals even higher. It is estimated that average taxpayer cost in some states is $31,286 per inmate in a single year. With gun violence convicts hitting almost 20,000 per annum it is not hard to estimate the cost which is approximately $5.2 billion (Donohue and Steven, 2015).
Among the other costs that with the gun violence aspect is the police investigation costs. Lastly, the American taxpayers have sought to look for private security to protect themselves. Security enhancement that include hiring of personal security, installation of security features such as metal detectors in homes and offices and schools has increased costs significantly. This means that the general expenditure at all levels increases. Both the citizens and the government feels the brunt of insecurity in the long run.The Debate of Gun Ownership RightsThose that advocate for unrestricted gun ownership feel that the introduction of laws to curb ownership of guns is an attack of the 2nd Amendment. However those calling for the strict gun laws feel that the law was made for man and not man for the law hence it can be adjusted to curb runaway deaths. Secondly, they feel that ownership of guns amounts to self-defense which is a basic right, however, those opposed to that view feel that guns don’t defend guns rather a more stringent gun laws will make few people have guns in the first place (Duggan, 2016).
The third argument is that as the US population is getting higher by the day, having sufficient police to citizens ratio cannot be achieved hence citizens should have basic personal protection. Those opposing free guns in the hands of citizens feel that having guns increases the potential of gun violence in the unknown future. Lastly, the gun market and security industry is a huge taxpayer to the government.
This idea has been vehemently opposed by anti-gun ownership activists because they feel that money is being traded for the lives of innocent lives. The Findings and Recommendations Increase in gun laws to improved background checks can significantly reduce the number of fatal gun incidents. There is evidence that gun laws have an indirect impact on such incidents.Stricter gun laws can lower the incidents of accidents and suicides, which contribute to the significant deaths due to guns.
ReferencesDonohue, J and Steven D. Levitt (2015): .Guns, Violence, and the Efficiency of Illegal Markets. American Economic Review, Vol.8, No. 2, pp. 463-67.
Duggan, M. (2016) More guns, more crime, Forthcoming, Journal of Political Economy. 45(1) Pp34Mustard, D (2017): .Crime, Deterrence and the Right-to- Carry Concealed Handguns., Journal of Legal Studies, 26, 1-68.