New report shows how gun violence impacts communities and taxpayers of the state

A new analysis from Giffords Law Center, The Economic Cost of Gun Violence in Rhode Island, finds that the directly measurable cost of gun violence in Rhode Island exceeds $95 million each year, with a direct annual cost to taxpayers of approximately $19 million.

“The impact of a shooting lingers long after the shots are fired,” said Molly Voigt, state legislative manager at Giffords. “Rhode Island has successfully passed a number of strong gun laws, but there is still more the state can do to reduce the impact of the gun violence crisis. By saving lives from gunfire, the state can also reduce the burden on businesses, law enforcement, and healthcare providers who feel the impact each time there is a shooting. We hope the data in this report inspires lawmakers to prioritize solutions that address the causes of gun violence in the state that will create a safer future for Rhode Islanders.”

Giffords Law Center finds the $95M in directly measurable costs exacts a substantial toll on Rhode Island’s economy. These costs include:

  • Healthcare costs: $7 million
  • Law enforcement and criminal justice expenses: $7 million
  • Costs to employers: $1 million
  • Lost income: $80 million

“The toll of gun violence isn’t just a body count or the cost of a hospitalization, it is also the anguish teachers and children face during lockdown drills, it is the grief and outrage of family members after a senseless shooting, it is the child growing up without a parent, and our faith leaders spending countless hours planning funerals, consoling families and organizing yet another vigil,” said Linda Finn, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence (RICAGV). “In 2017, Rhode Island had hundreds of nonfatal firearm injuries and there were 43 firearms deaths. We have some of the better gun laws around the gun country, but we still have more work to do to get that number down to zero.”

A large portion of this tab is picked up by the public. Up to 85 percent of gunshot victims, for example, are either uninsured or on some form of publicly-funded insurance. Additionally, law enforcement efforts are funded entirely by taxpayer dollars. As a result, the direct annual cost of gun violence to Rhode Island taxpayers is approximately $19 million.

There are many concrete steps that Rhode Island can and should be taking to address this public health crisis, including enacting gun safety laws that would limit access to military-style firearms and unsafe handguns, and significantly investing in evidence-based violence prevention and intervention strategies.

[From a press release]