Two new studies published recently have offered a mixed-bag of news regarding firearm-related fatalities. As most gun owners know, proper storage and handling of firearms can prevent accidental deaths and injuries, though less responsible or less experienced gun owners may still lead to some unfortunate incidents. One study states Americans are spending millions of dollars on firearm injuries. Luckily, another study is showing fatal gun accidents have dropped nearly 20% from 2014 to 2015.
First, the bad news. A study published by the American Journal of Public Health studied the health care cost of firearm injuries in the United States. From 2006-2014, the cost of hospitalizations for injuries caused by firearms totaled an approximate $6.61 billion, adjusted for inflation. That’s a whopping $734.6 million per year. The study also showed that nearly 41% of those costs were paid by taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid. Individuals without health insurance plans (self-pay) accounted for an additional 23.6% of of the costs. Over the years examined, those with individual health insurance plans paid $2.35 billion in firearm-related injuries, or 35.6% of the total cost.
Hospitalizations from firearm injuries are centered mostly on those of lower socio-economic standing without private health insurance. As we know, much of this can be blamed on the violent crime and gang activity prevalent in the poorer areas of our nation and in the inner city areas. The burden of this cost weighs heavily on your average citizen, as firearm-related hospitalizations cost the American tax payers $2.7 billion over the course of eight years. Though gun control advocates are sure to grab this new study to advocate for more stringent gun control efforts, there is a bright side and something gun owners can do.
The second study published by National Safety Council shows that accidental fatalities from firearms dropped 17% from 2014 to 2015. In 2015, only 489 deaths were caused by firearm accidents, the lowest since record-keeping began in 1903. Firearm accidents resulted in just 0.003% of all the 146,571 accidental deaths in 2015. The 17% reduction was the biggest percentage decrease of all accident causes reported. This decrease also came in a year when more gun sales were recorded than ever before. More gun owners than ever before are storing and handling their firearms responsibly. Using modern gun safes and locks, gun owners can keep their firearms out of the hands of children or other unauthorized users, and following the four golden rules when handling firearms can keep everybody safer in the years to come. Hopefully soon we can get that accidental fatality number to zero.
“This latest release from the National Safety Council shows that the vast majority of the 100 million American firearms owners meet the serious responsibilities which come with firearms ownership,” NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti said regarding the new study. “They store their firearms safely and securely when not in use, and follow the basic rules of firearms safety when handling them. We will continue to work with organizations interested in genuine firearms safety to help reduce the number of firearms accidents even further in the days and years ahead.”
As politicians, pundits, and gun-grabbers start rolling out headlines about the healthcare costs of firearms as way to get more gun control, remember that responsible gun owners are doing their part to reduce fatalities from firearms.