June 2, 2016 was the second Annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day. According to the Gun Violence Archive, shootings claim the lives of approximately 90 people every day. The total number of intentional and accidental shootings in real time so far this year is 21,841 of which 5500 have resulted in death.
Wednesday marked a very successful day for the many grassroots organizations formed to raise awareness about gun violence. Across the country, people wore orange, changed their profile pictures to #wearorange and shared facts, pictures and stories on social media. Important landmark monuments were lit up in orange lights; the morning shows interviewed advocates; and rallies were held across the country. These events were dedicated to the many innocent lives that have been lost or irrevocably changed due to gun violence. In case you don’t already know the date June 2 was inspired by the 2013 shooting of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago teen who was gunned down one week after performing for President Obama’s second inauguration. Another interesting fact is that orange was chosen as it’s the color that hunters wear to alert others not to shoot.
Gun violence makes me sadder than any issue that plagues our society today but I am truly inspired by the many organizations that are coming together to make a difference. And while statistics abound about the numbers of people who die and are injured each day, I was not familiar with the actual cost of all of this gun violence. Being in the life, long term care, health and disability insurance business, I wanted to learn about the actual costs to our society.
Natasha Bertrand has addressed this very topic in her 4/24/15 article entitled “A Breakdown of The $229 Billion Gun Violence Tab That American Taxpayers Are Paying Every Year”.
WHAT WAS THAT? $229 BILLION!!
She writes that “American taxpayers pay roughly $12.8 million every day to cover the costs of gun-related deaths and injuries”. This means that taxpayers cover about 87% of the costs for gun violence. A gun wound often consists of the following services: ambulance, emergency room, surgery, hospital stays, medication, physical therapy, trauma counseling, in-home care, wheelchairs, customized vans, and lost income. Many people have longer term problems including bowel issues, arthritis, chronic pain, inability to care for themselves and a need for pain medications.
Victims of gun violence often suffer injuries so severe they require around-the-clock care for the rest of their lives and these days that’s a long time. According to Ms. Bertrand, the kind of skilled nursing care needed for one victim paralyzed or brain damaged can cost upwards of $1.7 million. If the victim is a Medicaid patient, then the taxpayers foot that bill too. And let’s not minimize the cost if someone can no longer work or needs mental health intervention.
The bottom line is the cost to our society for gun violence is astronomical and while that is not my reason for gun control it is certainly something that needs to be in the open and discussed along with the tragedy of any gun shootings.
My role as a life, health, long term care, and disability specialist is to protect my clients. I sell life insurance to protect families and disability insurance to protect incomes. Long term care insurance provides custodial care if someone is unable to do the activities of daily living or has a brain injury, dementia or Alzheimer’s. Health insurance covers hospital costs, medications, doctor’s bills and more. All of these insurances are critical to protect ourselves and our families. I suppose one could argue that a shooting could be one of the subjects I address with my clients.
My hope for our future is that I don’t have to do that.