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An article posted yesterday at Motherboard informed [both] readers that “gun violence” costs the nation $6.6 billion in healthcare costs over nine years ($734m p.a.). Their tally’s based on a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. But wait! There’s more! . . .

According to Sarabeth Spitzer, a Stanford medical student and lead author of the study, that stat only begins to “scratch the surface of the true cost.”

O.K., so let’s take scratch that itch.

Let’s take that $734 million annual number and multiply it by 10. Actually, let’s multiply it by 100. That would put the nation’s annual “gun violence” bill at $73 billion.

Guess what? It’s still only a fraction of the annual savings we can attribute to civilian gun ownership and defensive gun uses.

Our man Bruce Krafft — whose posts we dearly miss — did the math back in 2012. Here it is:

Our fearless leader suggested that I take a look at the flip side of the anti’s latest attack on our freedoms (a recycled strategy from the Clinton-era Public Health model of gun control): the monetary cost of gun violence.

For example, the Center for American Progress touted the “fact” that the Virginia Tech massacre cost taxpayers $48.2 million (including autopsy costs and a fine against Virginia Tech for failing to get their skates on when the killer started shooting).

It’s one of the antis’ favorite tricks: cost benefit analysis omitting the benefit side of the equation. So what are the financial benefits of firearm ownership to society? Read on . . .

In my post Dennis Henigan on Chardon: Clockwork Edition, I did an analysis of how many lives were saved annually in Defensive Gun Uses (DGUs). I used extremely conservative numbers. Now I am going to use some less conservative ones.

The Kleck-Gertz DGU study estimated that there are between 2.1 and 2.5 million DGUs a year in the U.S. The Ludwig-Cook study came up with 1.46 million. So let’s split the difference and call it 1.88 million DGUs per year.

In the K-G article Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun, 15.7 percent of people who had a DGU reckoned they almost certainly saved a life. Ignoring the ‘probably’ and ‘might have’ saved a life categories for simplicity, 15.7 percent of 1.88 million gives us 295,160 lives saved annually.

[NB: A number of people have questioned the 15.7 percent stat. Remember: many states regard the mere act of pulling a gun on someone a form of deadly force. In addition, virtually every jurisdiction in the nation requires that an armed self-defender must be in “reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm” before using (or in some places even threatening to use) deadly force.]

How can we get a dollar figure from 1.88 million defensive gun uses per year? Never fear, faithful reader, we can count on the .gov to calculate everything.

According to the AZ state government, in February of 2008 a human life was worth $6.5 million. Going to the Inflation Calculator and punching in the numbers gives us a present value of $6.93 million.

So figuring that the average DGU saves one half of a person’s life—as “gun violence” predominantly affects younger demographics—that gives us $3.465 million per half life.

Putting this all together, we find that the monetary benefit of guns (by way of DGUs) is roughly $1.02 trillion per year. That’s trillion. With a ‘T’.

I was going to go on and calculate the costs of incarceration ($50K/year) saved by people killing 1527 criminals annually, and then look at the lifetime cost to society of an average criminal (something in excess of $1 million). But all of that would be a drop in the bucket compared to the $1,000,000,000,000 ($1T) annual benefit of gun ownership.

When compared to the (inflation adjusted from 2002) $127.5 billion ‘cost’ of gun violence calculated by by our Ludwig-Cook buddies, guns save a little more than eight times what they “cost.”

Which, I might add, is completely irrelevant since “the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility.”

So even taking Motherboard’s own total and multiplying it by 100, the benefits to society of civilian gun ownership dwarf the associated costs.

That is not, for one minute, to minimize the pain, injuries and deaths experienced by innocent victims, not to mention the real suffering of the families of those who commit suicides (and those of criminals who die as a result of their crimes).

Bruce’s calculation, though, puts into perspective the net positive societal benefits of civilian gun ownership. Something that somehow gets short shrift in most media accounts.

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  1. Want to cut down on “gun violence”? Make gang membership a capital offense to be carried out immediately with no appeals.

    • That will turn out great the year some progressive statist authoritarian party comes into power and declares anyone who they disagree with to be members of a ‘criminal gang’.

      • Yeah… The idea is that it would devastate the liberal’s voter base and make the DNC go the way of the Whig party.

      • The idea is to make the DNC go the way of the Whig party. Eliminate their voter base. Permanently.

        • Yes, but how many of the gang members are active in legitimate political processes? Basically how many gangbangers get out and vote? I suspect the number is much lower than we wish so by eliminating the gang vote the end result would not be that much different.

        • The Demokkkrats have never cared about the “legitimate” political process. The only way they get into office is bribery, fraud, and extortion. For crying out loud, their last president ordered surveillance of his would-be successor’s electoral opponent.

    • Sounds like a way to increase the violence, actually. Who would define “gangs” and who would carry out this elimination?

      Exactly, Sian…

      As my dear mother said so often: be careful what you wish for. You may get it…

      • This was my thought, too. The .gov’s will make the determination and if they decide that the NRA is a “gang” then whatcha gonna do? The idea of making gangs illegal is akin to making the right of free association illegal, which is along the lines of making guns or the ownership of guns illegal. We could, and should in my opinion, make the act of harming others illegal and punishable, oh wait, it is already. So let’s make the punishments harsher for those who habitually practice these acts of violence on others.

        • So I take it you have some problem with the RICO statute then? Just up the penalty to a capital offense.

        • Its more than that, it’s along the little lines making free speech, religion and protest illegal since most of those require a group association

          Just goes to show that the government CANNOT fix our problems, we as citizens have to be responsible for the health and standards of our society

    • “Make gang membership a capital offense to be carried out immediately with no appeals.”

      Ah, that pesky First Amendment and it’s “freedom of association” clause…

      I’m sure there are more than enough on the other side who would want to make “gun ownership” a capital offense too. And probably more than a few who would want to make “NRA membership” a capital offense.

      Fortunately, we do still have the First Amendment.

      Serge, do you think this stuff through before you post it?

      • The 1st amendment does not protect criminal conspiracy. That’s settled law. If you believe otherwise, you need to go look up the RICO case history.

        • So “association with others” (which, when you really boil it down to its simplest elements, is the definition of a gang), is the same as criminal conspiracy? What highly specific and legally binding definition do you use to decide if one is a gang member or not? Or do you just want the .gov to decide who counts as a gang member?

          Also, I’d like to make a point that I haven’t seen on here yet. Actually think about what your proposal would take to implement. Gang bangers know damn well there’s a very good chance they’ll die on the street; they simply don’t give a shit. Now, assuming your proposed law would not only be enforced, but actively enforced (as in, cops actively seek out gang members rather than just catching people who happen to be jumped in while they are engaged in the commission of other crimes), you are talking about a literal ground war between cops and gangs.

          Full blown, house to house, brutal fighting, PLENTY of casualties on both sides. I’m not entirely sure you realized just how MANY gang members there are in the US alone, and they’re not solely in Baltimore, LA, Chicago, and Detroit. They’re all over the country, in big cities and small towns. The American police force would have to probably triple in size (we all know how much you love cops), and they would need to be given a tremendous amount of leeway in their use of force (not for any practical reason; just because otherwise most of them would leave), and the massive crackdowns would result in gangs coming together (at least temporarily) and declaring open season on all cops, everywhere. Frankly, if push came to shove like that, I’m not convinced the cops would win, no matter how many they were able to recruit. No, the only way for something like that to truly succeed is full blown martial law, complete with BRUTAL crackdowns and mass executions. If things go that far, discretion is gone completely and one dead man is as good as another.

  2. Too look at the math another way . . .
    According to Vice:
    $6.61 Billion to treat 250,000 patients over 8 years comes out to $26,440 per person treated spread across those 8 years.

    Following Bruce’s research:
    1,880,000 million defensive uses per year across those same 8 years translates to 15,040,000 patients that did not need medical help.
    If it costs $26,440 per person that’s $397,657,600,000 saved during the same 8 year span. Minus the cost of ammo of course.

  3. If we had a Democrat President and Democrat control of the House and Senate eliminating guns as a means of reducing healthcare costs would be a high priority. That Motherboard article must have been written when everyone thought Hillary was a shoe-in.

    I’m sure the left wishes they could kill two birds with one stone by removing private ownership of guns and “doing something” to reduce healthcare costs. Too bad that idea is a lie.

    Our rights are not subject to social utility, but it is nice to see again and again we win out on that as well.

  4. Who takes vice seriously anymore? They used to post really edgy and informative articles and mini documentaries on things like drug/people trafficking, addiction, death squads killing people who live in the sewers of Columbian cities, etc. now all they post is extreme left nonsense, “literally hitler” opinion pieces, and articles about why white straight males need to start using dildos and gay bath house orgies. Im not even joking, google their articles, its mostly weird nonsense like that now. the titles of half their articles have words spelled wrong and noticeable grammar mistakes as well. Their integrity really went downhill a few years back when they got bought out.

    Dont even get me started on vice news’ “mass shooting index”. Its a page where they “track” mass shootings.

  5. The figure on gun ownership still doesn’t take into account the economical benefits of gun owners. How much $ is pumped into the economy by sales of guns, ammo, targets, gear, accessories and training? Also how many jobs are there supporting this industry also. And no, I don’t work in the industry I just am an avid owner carrier and benefactor of a DGU myself.

  6. And he didn’t even touch the cost of insurance for things that get stolen, of counseling and suffering for victims, and so on that don’t get paid out because of DGUs.

    I wouldn’t know how to put a dollar value for the kids that didn’t get molested because I was armed and acted, or the gal I know not getting raped because she was — but those are also definitely benefits.

  7. If there are 1.88M DGUs/year, and a DGU “on average” averts 0.5 murders, then in the complete absence of DGUs there would be 940,000 murders/year. That’s not reasonable. Most Americans don’t have guns or benefit directly from DGUs, so the reduction by DGUs can’t possibly be the 98% required to produce the actual 15,000 or so homicides per year.

    Even the Kleck-Gertz claim that over 15% of DGU reporters think they saved a life is dubious. They may think so, but 15% of the 2M-4M DGUs/year they estimate is 300,000 to 600,000. Even 15% of 1.88M would be 282,000. Are there really that many attempted murders, or intended murders, every year?

    There are indirect protection effects – would-be perpetrators are often deterred by the possibility that a target is armed. But that effect has no connection to actual DGUsI
    There are excellent reasons for having an armed citizenry, but this calculation is not one.

    A more accurate calculation would include the robberies and assaults deterred by DGUs, both directly and indirectly – a vast number, each one with considerable dollar value. Much less than the postulated-for-discussion “value” of a human life, but also much more numerous.

    I’m morally certain that calculation would show a benefit far greater than the cost of such crimes as are committed with guns, or made possible by guns.

  8. Even if you ignore self-defense shootings, if you’re going to consider the cost of treating criminals’ bullet wounds it is only fair also to consider, for those criminals that die of their wounds, the savings in not having to put and keep them in prison. That’s $50,000 per year and rises with inflation. When a murderer is killed in a gang fight, it saves millions of dollars.

    You may say that having criminals die at one another’s hand is not a solution you desire, but that is beside the point. If you don’t want to consider the financial savings from criminal gun violence then don’t make an argument about money in the first place.

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