The Rising Price Tag of America’s Gun Culture

A new report has analyzed the toll that gun violence can inflict on a community, and it’s not painted a pretty picture.

The Toll of Gun Violence

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Gun-related injuries in Colorado racked up a staggering $8.4 million in medical bills in 2022, according to a new analysis by the Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC). 

Shedding Light on the Costs

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This eye-opening report is one of the first to put a price tag on the economic repercussions of firearm injuries.

Firearm Injuries: A Public Health Lens

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The idea of treating gun injuries as a public health issue is gaining traction in Colorado. Dr. Emmy Betz, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said, “It’s an important way to look at things. It helps people think about another aspect of this specifically beyond the deaths.”

CIVHC’s Data Analysis

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Using data from the state’s all-payer claims database, CIVHC found some notable trends. From 2016 to 2022, medical claims for firearm injuries jumped by 53%, and injuries to kids skyrocketed by a massive 120%.

Alarming Trends and Statistics

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Key Findings in 2022: Over 7,000 firearm-related claims cost $8.4 million in healthcare. While unintentional injuries (like accidental discharges) accounted for 72% of claims, while assaults made up 17%.

Understanding the Impact Across Age and Gender

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Demographic Data and Trends (2016-2022): Adults vs. Children/Youth: Adults had the majority (88%) of firearm injury claims. For children and youth, the rate of firearm injuries increased by 120%, with unintentional injuries rising by 143%.

Demographic Disparities

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Men vs. Women: Men were three times more likely to get injured by firearms than women. Women saw a huge spike in injuries of undetermined intent (233%).

A Rural-Urban Divide

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Rural vs. Urban: Rural areas had much more self-harm and assault injuries. Self-harm claims in rural areas were 25 times higher than in urban areas.

Examining the Impact on Medicaid Recipients

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By Payer Type: Medicaid recipients experienced firearm injury rates 12.5 times higher than those with commercial insurance.

The Human Toll and Policy Implications

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Kristin Paulson, CIVHC’s president and CEO, pointed out the urgency of addressing gun violence as a public health issue. “The analysis shows the critical need for continued focus on comprehensive public health, education, and community-tailored initiatives aimed at addressing and preventing firearm violence.”

Insights into the Root Causes of Firearm Injuries

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The data leans heavily on unintentional injuries because many homicides and suicides don’t end up as medical claims, skewing the data towards unintentional injuries. Of the more than 7,000 claims analyzed for 2022, a huge 72% were for unintentional injuries.

Broader Impacts and Community Concerns

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Dr. Betz noted that the data provides insight into why these injuries happen. “It raises concerns about what is happening in those homes and why firearms are maybe not being locked up,” she said. 

Informing Public Health Campaigns

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This insight can guide public health campaigns, such as Colorado’s “Let’s Talk Guns” campaign, which promotes gun safety and secure storage.

Legislative and Community Responses

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Colorado has taken steps to tackle gun-related harms. In 2021, the state created the Office of Gun Violence Prevention to provide data and grants to combat firearm issues. 

University Initiatives to Combat Firearm Issues

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The University of Colorado’s Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative continues to conduct vital research, and a new program – the Firearm-Related Harm and Violence Prevention Program Office – is working with communities to address specific concerns.

Jonathan McMillan’s Vision

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Jonathan McMillan, the program office’s director, emphasized that the goal isn’t to take away guns but to help communities find solutions. “It’s about helping communities speak more to what their needs are,” he said.

A Nationwide Concern

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This issue isn’t just a Colorado problem. McMillan recently met with the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which shows there is a growing national focus on treating gun injuries as a public health issue.

Confronting the Crisis

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Colorado’s $8.4 million bill for gun-related injuries could be a wake-up call for many. With rising injury rates, especially among kids, and significant impacts on rural areas, gun control advocates have argued that the need for an effective public health strategy is critical. 

Future Directions

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The way it reacts to this crisis could pave the way for more legislation throughout the country later on this year or the next.

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The postThe Rising Price Tag of America’s Gun Culture first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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