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Gun violence costs more per person in Alabama than almost every other state, study says

States with the strictest gun safety regulations incur the lowest short-term and long-term costs associated with gun violence, researchers found.

Alabama has the second-highest rate of gun deaths in the U.S., and the costs incurred after each trigger is pulled give it another sad distinction: the third-highest gun-violence-related cost per person in the nation.

On average, gun violence kills 1,054 people in Alabama each year and wounds 3,422. The economic costs of the fallout from shootings add up to $8.1 billion annually in the state, which breaks down to $1,654 per resident, according to research released on Friday.

Only Louisiana and Mississippi see higher costs per person, the study found. 

Researchers with the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund analyzed a range of costs related to gun violence. They considered taxpayer dollars spent for first responders, ambulances, medical expenses and criminal justice services, as well as money spent by victims’ families and wages lost due to missed work and the financial impact on employers who lose productivity and revenue.

Nationally, 40,000 lives are lost to gun violence each year, and twice as many are wounded, costing $280 billion at an average of $860 per person, according to Ted R. Miller, a principal research scientist at Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation and the leading economist working on gun violence costs in the U.S.

“America’s annual firearm injury bill exceeds its impaired driving bill,” Miller said. “Perhaps that’s because we regulate driving safety as a society to make the roads and vehicles safer for all of us.”

The analysis noted that the states with the lowest costs — the lowest four each tallied less than $300 annually per resident — are states with strong gun safety regulations. It described Alabama’s gun laws as lax by comparison. 

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“No dollar figure could ever fully convey the cost of gun violence for families and survivors, but these estimates remind us just how many ways lawmakers’ inaction costs families, taxpayers and society as a whole,” Sarah Burd-Sharps, director of research for the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, said in a statement. “In a time of stretched-thin budgets, this crisis is costing the country billions each year. We could instead be using these dollars to invest in the vital local intervention programs and public services that we know prevent gun violence from happening in the first place.”

Micah Danney is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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