Photo by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash

If South Carolina lawmakers were to take real and proactive policy steps to curb gun violence, your taxes would almost certainly go down.


One way or another, every man, woman and child in South Carolina pays $2,716 per year – that’s almost $14 billion a year – to deal with the costs of gun violence, according to a sweeping 2022 study by Everytown, a national gun safety organization.

“What is clear from this report’s analysis is that while not every household has a gun, and while not all communities experience high levels of gun violence, we all bear the economic burden of injuries and deaths caused by firearms,” according to the report.  “Roughly $12.62 billion in tax money per year pays for our country’s gun violence epidemic. 

“Instead of funding education, social services, economic redevelopment grants, and so many other vital public goods from which we all benefit, we are spending precious funds on an epidemic that brings nothing of benefit and plenty of heartbreak and shattered lives.”

While the vast majority of costs identified in the study are soft quality-of-life costs related to suffering and loss, about $1 in every $5 of costs outlined in the report is hard, such as the amount spent on immediate and long-term medical care, ambulances, police, prosecutors, courts, jails and other parts of the criminal justice system.  

“American taxpayers pay $30.16 million every day in police and criminal justice costs for investigation, prosecution, and incarceration,” the report said.

There are also costs related to work missed because of injury or death from gun violence and employer productivity losses.  

“Employers lose an average of $1.47 million on a daily basis in productivity, revenue and costs required to recruit and train replacements for victims of gun violence,” the report said.  “Society loses $1.34 billion daily in quality-of-life costs from the suffering and lost well-being of gun violence victims and their families.”

In the study, South Carolina ranked ninth highest in per capita costs among the 50 states. 

“Not surprisingly, states with high levels of gun violence face higher associated costs, whereas states with lower levels of gun violence and strong common-sense gun laws face a lower financial burden,” the report noted.

As of Sept. 6, almost 30,000 Americans have died from gun violence this year, including more than 16,500 people from suicide, according to  More than 13,000 American deaths from gun violence were homicides, accidents or defensive-related deaths. 

In South Carolina, data show 277 victims died from gun violence since the beginning of the year as well as 37 suspects who were killed.  Another 62 victims were injured.  Some 186 suspects were arrested, according to the archive.

If South Carolina wants to get a better hold on reducing gun violence – and saving taxpayers the costs related to the deaths and injuries that accrue from shootings – it should take more proactive policy steps.  Not only should it get rid of laws that allow people to carry weapons without permits, but it needs to require more stringent tests for people who want to buy a gun, including a waiting period.  And years after the slayings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, legislators need to close loopholes that let people get guns who shouldn’t have them.

One thing is clear: If we do nothing to try to curb the violence, more innocent people will die.  Toughening gun laws won’t stop all murders, but having better control would reduce the violence and improve safety across South Carolina.

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