Like the rest of America, Ohio suffers from a gun death rate that dwarfs other developed nations, exacting a high physical and emotional toll on the state and its communities. But one aspect of the gun violence epidemic receives far less attention than it should: the overwhelming financial cost shootings inflict. Which is why today the Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions released the new report The Economic Cost of Gun Violence in Ohio: A Business Case for Action.
Ohio’s business community is severely impacted by the negative economic consequences of gun violence. Shootings incite fear in affected neighborhoods, keeping potential customers away, impeding tourism, and often forcing businesses to relocate or limit their hours of operation. Based on the expenses that can be directly measured, including healthcare costs, law enforcement and criminal justice expenses, employer costs, and lost income, the initial pricetag of gun violence in Ohio is $2.7 billion per year.
But the expenses don’t end there. When a reduced quality of life from pain and suffering is considered, the estimate for the economic cost of gun violence in Ohio rises to a staggering $7.3 billion per year.
Last year was Cleveland’s deadliest in a decade, and other communities have experienced similarly tragic upticks. Ohio scored a D on the 2016 Gun Law State Scorecard, leaving much room for improvement. Specifically, The Economic Cost of Gun Violence in Ohio lays out two primary policy areas that have been proven to dramatically reduce gun violence, especially when implemented together:
- Closing Background Check Loopholes: Ohio currently does not require criminal background checks on all gun sales. This deadly loophole allows felons, domestic abusers, and those experiencing a mental health crisis to purchase guns in the state in private sales without any oversight.
- Supporting Community-Based Violence Intervention Programs: Community-based intervention strategies can help drastically reduce gun violence in impacted urban areas. By establishing programs that connect at-risk youth to badly needed social services and creating hospital-based intervention programs, Ohio could see a steep decline in gun violence. (Learn more about these solutions in our report on urban gun violence, Healing Communities in Crisis.)
This comprehensive review of the billions of dollars gun violence costs Ohio’s economy and business community each year reveals the massive scope of the problem and provides lawmakers with the essential legislative solutions they need to protect communities from needless tragedies and the unacceptable human and financial toll they exact on Ohio each year.
The Buckeye State is hardly unique when it comes to this problem. Our report on Minnesota’s gun violence last year revealed a similarly staggering economic cost, and in 2015 a national analysis by Mother Jones estimated the taxpayer burden gun violence presents annually across America reaches over $299 billion.