THE HEALTHCARE COST OF GUN VIOLENCE
With the gun related initiatives on the ballot, I’m reminded of the two gun owners with conceal carry permits (in a Utah school and an Idaho college) who accidentally shot themselves. Unlike the fatal Uzi accident in Arizona, just the gun owners were hurt in recent accidents. They probably have health insurances, but the emergency responses must have added to the cost to those states.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, healthcare for gun-related injuries costs more than 37 billion dollars. The emotional and financial costs to the victims’ families: loss of a parent, spouse or child; decreased household income; and grief counseling, could add up to millions more. The surviving firearm victims often need long-term care, fall into depression, lose their jobs, and end up on taxpayer-funded Medicaid for their treatment.
In a survey by the Huffington Post, guns were responsible for more than 31,000 deaths in suicides, homicides and accidental shootings in 2010, and more than 73,000 were treated with gun-related injuries.
Several cities have tried to sue the gun manufactures to recover some of the expenses for treatment, but have not been successful. The manufacturers are not accountable for the misuse of their product, but perhaps they would agree to provide insurance for gun-induced healthcare costs. Just as banks pay into an FDIC-managed fund to cover the public’s losses, weapons manufacturers and sellers could put aside a percentage of their profits into a fund to offset the medical expenses. Taxpayers should not be held responsible for the public costs caused by private companies.
Gun owners and sellers should realize that submitting to background checks is not equivalent to surrendering their right to bear arms. It will help them distance themselves from criminals, and prevent gun related accidents and suicides.
RESPONSIBILITY OF GUN OWNERS-
The gun lobby argues that armed citizens can prevent deadly shootings. However, as the Daily News editorial (June 6) pointed out, guns don’t save lives, people do. The Hero at Seattle University who tackled the murderer didn’t have a gun. The Hero who threw a stool at the assailant at Café Racer in Seattle saved many lives without a gun. The Heroes who tackled the gunman and grabbed his magazine in Tucson, Arizona, did it without weapons.
Citizens have the right to bear arms but citizens also have the right to be safe from harmful weapons. The Second Amendment was added to the constitution for a “well-regulated militia” when guns were essential for survival. Nowadays civilians own guns for sports shooting, hunting, target practice and self-protection. Do they need assault weapons for these purposes?
There must be regulations for who can possess guns and where they can carry them. Do we allow children to play with knives, drive cars or handle machinery? The young ones, who are not allowed to stay alone, shouldn’t have access to guns.
We submit to background checks in other aspects. We have to show credentials for employment. We must register and insure our vehicles and take driving tests. We need identification to board a plane. We need prescriptions for medicines and can’t collect a year’s supply. But there are no restrictions on arms and ammunition one can hoard. Had there been a law to limit these, killers would not have amassed weapons of mass murder. Just as there is a “no-fly list,” a national database of “no-buy-list” could have prevented Lanza, Holmes, Stawicki, and Loughner from buying weapons.
It is the responsibility of gun owners to make sure their “good and safe guns” don’t fall into “bad and unsafe hands.”
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