Gun violence is a public health epidemic. 

Every year, gun violence kills over 40,000 people and wounds over 75,000 others in the United States. Gun violence costs the United States $557 billion annually – equivalent to 2.6% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. That’s more than twice what the Department of Education spent to educate US youth in FY 2022 ($235.74 billion). Every year, gun violence costs taxpayers $12.62 billion – or $273,904 per firearm death and $25,150 per nonfatal firearm injury.

Gun violence costs the United States

$557 billion

annually – equivalent to 2.6% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.


Weaker Gun Laws, Greater Economic Costs

States with the weakest gun laws bear the majority of the economic toll of gun violence. Southern states experience the largest proportion (41.4%) of firearm-related hospital costs, while this region only accounts for 37.6% of the nation’s population. Meanwhile, the Northeast – a region with states with strong gun laws – has the lowest proportion (16.6%) of healthcare costs.

Southern states have a firearm death rate 2.3 times higher than Northeastern states. Each year, 3,801 people in the Northeast are killed by gun violence, which costs taxpayers $1.04 billion. Meanwhile, 19,186 people in the South are killed by gun violence each year, costing taxpayers $5.26 billion annually.

The annual taxpayer cost
The annual taxpayer cost

Costs of gun violence based on a 2022 study on the Economic Toll of Gun Violence and CDC Wonder Injury Mortality Data. State Ranking of Gun Laws is based on Giffords’ 2021 Annual Scorecard. Calculations done by Brady.

Residents living in states with stronger gun laws, like California or New Jersey, face less of an economic burden than those living in states with weak gun laws, like Wyoming or Arkansas. The per capita cost of gun violence placed on taxpayers in Mississippi is over 6 times greater than the cost taxpayers in Massachusetts face. Common-sense gun laws save lives and taxpayer dollars.

The Lifelong Cost of Firearm Injuries

While the media often discusses the tragic loss of life, little attention is given to victims of gun violence who survive their firearm injuries. Each year over 75,000 people in the United States survive their gunshot wounds but face life-changing and long-lasting injuries and trauma that come with steep economic costs for their communities at large. Each year, $2.8 billion goes towards immediate and long-term medical care, mental health care, and ambulance and patient transport costs.

A 2022 study found that patients with firearm injuries saw a 402% increase in medical spending per month. Studies estimating first-year admittance costs have concluded that 16% of firearm injury patients initially admitted to the hospital were readmitted at least once, which cost them between $8,000 and $11,000 per patient. Additionally, patients with firearm injuries experienced a 40% increase in pain diagnoses, a 51% increase in psychiatric disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and an 85% increase in substance use disorders.

Employer Costs of Gun Violence

As the rate of gun violence increases, a greater economic burden is placed on employers. From health insurance costs to sick leave to productivity and workforce losses, U.S. companies are negatively impacted by the growing epidemic of gun violence.

Between 2007 and 2020, the number of employees or dependents of companies that offer employer-sponsored health insurance who have been shot has increased by over 400%. It is estimated that each employee who suffers a firearm injury is associated with a $30,000 increase in direct medical spending for the employer in the first year alone.

In addition to direct medical spending, employers must give employees who sustained firearm injuries a leave of absence, worsening productivity and losing revenue. It is estimated that these losses cost employers a total of

$535 million

across the United States each year.


Funding for Firearm Injury Prevention

Gun violence is the leading cause of death among children and young people (aged 0-19) in the United States and the leading cause of years of potential life lost across all age groups – surpassing motor vehicle accidents. However, gun violence receives far less federal research funding than other leading causes of death in the U.S.

NIH Federal Research Funcding for leading causes of death per death
NIH Federal Research Funcding for leading causes of death per death

Number of Deaths retrieved from CDC Wonder database. Funding retrieved from NIH Research Funding Report. Calculations done by Brady.

Adequate funding for research-based solutions to public health epidemics helps to reduce mortality rates. In 2020, motor vehicle accident prevention funding equates to $2,064 per death, which is associated with a drastic drop in motor vehicle accident fatalities over the past decade. In the same year, $14 million of federal funding was allocated to research firearm injury prevention, which equates to $309.58 per firearm-related death and firearm deaths have increased significantly over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2020, the mortality rate for pneumonia and influenza – which received $16,491.11 in federal funding per mortality – decreased by 29.7%, meanwhile the firearm mortality rate increased by 34.3%. While firearm injury prevention research received significantly less funds than other leading causes of death, the firearm mortality rate increased and will continue to do so without adequate funding.


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