The Human Tragedy of Mass Shootings also Creates an Economic Imperative

Published on September 03, 2019
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Mass shootings are tragedies with immeasurable costs to victims and their families. At the same time, they cause tremendous and quantifiable economic harm. The Perryman Group estimated the magnitude of these harms in order to provide a perspective on the high costs.

"The focus in these all-too-frequent attacks should always be on the victims and their families," said Dr. Ray Perryman, founder and President of The Perryman Group. "In a brief moment, lives are permanently altered in ways that have lingering effects for generations to come. No one can begin to place a value on the pain and disruptions caused to innocent people just going about their daily routines. Our purpose in providing this assessment is simply to make others aware that the costs randomly imposed on these innocent people also reverberate through the economy in material ways."

Since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, The Perryman Group estimates that losses to the US economy from mass shootings total more than $20.5 billion in gross product and nearly 191,000 job-years due to death and injuries to victims. In addition, the quality-of-life losses for victims and their families as traditionally measured total at least $9.5 billion.

"We focused our efforts on measuring only the economic harm stemming directly from the consequences to the victims," said Dr. Perryman.

"Society also suffers from enforcement and incarceration costs, diversion of resources into security measures at potentially vulnerable venues, economic and psychological impacts on the affected communities, increased uncertainty, and many other adverse outcomes. In addition to the much more important consequences for the victims and their families, dealing with the issue is an economic imperative."

The Perryman Group estimated economic losses to the United States associated with death and injuries incurred in mass shootings from December 14, 2012 (Sandy Hook) to August 31, 2019 (Odessa). The numbers reflect the effects of medical costs and lost earnings and are fully adjusted for the age distribution, worklife probabilities, labor force participation, and productivity potential of the victims. The analysis made use of the firm's econometric model and impact assessment system. Note that these estimates measure only the effects from losses by the victims of mass shootings. It does not include investigative costs; incarceration costs; investments in security by schools, churches, and other entities; or many other dimensions of the economic costs of mass shootings. It also does not include other types of gun violence.

For more details please refer to the full brief.