Evidence Overview: Costs of Adolescent Firearm Injuries

By Catherine Gallagher PhD, Ajima Olaghere MA ABD, Joel Censer BA, Yang Xu MS Kirsten Hutzell MS, Kelsey Van Vranken, Sheri Van Vranken BS

Examining the costs and the rate of firearm injuries and deaths for adolescents, we found that contrary to current crime declines, firearm injuries for 13-to-19 year olds have remained relatively stable. They also cost a lot of money. In 2005, US hospitals charged $108.4 million to care for about 10,000 victims of firearm injuries. This is $38 million more than the total budget for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The cost of treating injuries resulting from gun violence imposes a substantial financial burden to the medical care system and larger society. As seen in Figure 2, firearm‐related injuries generally require hospitalization and significant emergency center resources (Burd et al., 2007). Research has estimated that taxpayers in the United States bear nearly half of the cost of treating gunshot injuries. When CCCP at GMU analyzed the costs of gun violence ( see Figure 4), we found that the estimated lost wages and hospitalization costs for violent and self-inflicted gun wounds could be approximated close to 1.5 billion dollars. All these datapoints have implications for our investment in prevention. Data derived from CDC WISQARS among others.

Youth firearm injuries and death rates

Figure 1: Firearm injury and death rates, 13-19 year olds, 2001-2007
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Medical dispositions

Figure 2: Medical dispositions of firearm injuries, 2001-2007
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Rate of male firearm injuries by race/ethnicity

Figure 3: Rate of male firearm injuries by race/ethnicity, 13-19 year olds, 2001-2010
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Average hospitalization and work loss costs, 13-19 year olds, 2005

Figure 4: Average hospitalization and work loss costs, 13-19 year olds, 2005
(click to enlarge)

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