Gun violence in our country may collectively cost us up to nearly $200 billion each year, according to a study based on 2010 data by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, an independent public safety research group used by the Centers for Disease Control and other government agencies. That’s pretty expensive.

Let’s put it into context. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost us taxpayers something like $130 billion in 2012. Federal government spending on all education programs last year was just over $100 billion. Feeding poorer families with children under the food stamp program costs around $80 billion.

Do you know what else has an estimated annual economic cost to our society of around $200 billion? Cancer. The American Cancer Society reports on its website that the National Institutes of Health estimated the economic impact of cancer on the American economy in 2008 at $201.5 billion. Think about that for a minute. Gun violence is akin to a “cancer” on our economy and society of the same economic magnitude as actual cancer.

So, not only does the extreme view of a small but fanatically vocal minority of Americans who will respond to all proposed reasonable gun restrictions with a roar of “… SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!” cost us the lives of more than 30,000 fellow citizens a year, including precious innocents like the 20 schoolchildren at Sandy Hook — it also economically costs us about the same as cancer does. Those lost lives and those lost dollars together are clearly too dear a price for supporting the extreme Second Amendment interpretations of the National Rifle Association leadership and the gun industry lobby, especially since the Supreme Court — the only body in our society with the authority to interpret the Constitution — has already determined in the 2008 Heller ruling that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited and may be regulated on public safety grounds.

To fight against the epidemic of cancer, any and every reasonable measure is utilized. After all, it is a matter of life and death. Fighting the epidemic of gun violence calls for the same approach. Loosely controlled access to guns, especially assault weapons and high capacity magazines, is poor public safety policy and does not make economic sense for Ahwatukee, Arizona, or America.

• Ahwatukee resident Bryan L. Brinkley is secretary of Arizona People Acting for a Safer Society (AZ PASS). For more information, visit

(4) comments


Show us the math! I bet you'll come up with generalizations, old stats from 15+ years ago, and polls taken by gun control organizations. I can make up numbers and post them, also. What I can't fake is the truth. A lie repeated a hundred times, is still a lie.

Great canard, and watch what your supporters respond to me with.

No background check would have prevented Sandy Hook, so why do we always here it referenced during background check legislation? Pepare for hyperbole to commence!


Dear "guncontrolpeoplelie", thanks for your comment. Please refer to the studies referenced in the comment for "the math". If you believe there are more valid studies on the economic and human cost from gun violence, please share them. Please also be aware that ad hominem arguments are informal fallacies and not at all convincing in a debate, typically they are referred to as irrelevancies. If you have a relevant and reasoned point to make, it is best to make it directly rather than to attack the people on the other side of the argument. My point is that gun violence is very costly and so we should take action. It would better for you to explain why you believe it is not costly to make your point rather than to call your opponent a liar. Or if your point is to show that your opponent has lied, then you should provide the evidence of the lie. Otherwise, you make no serious or persuasive point. We need to attack the problem of gun violence, not each other.


This article talks about the total cost to society from those lost lives, and in doing so, commits a sort of reverse broken window fallacy.

The quoted fallacy states that since a broken window must be fixed, which creates work for glaziers, breaking windows creates GDP equal to the value of the window before it was broken. It implicitly assumes that the window was the only thing available for purchase, and as such, ignores the fact that, in any real-life case, there are such goods available for purchase, which would have created that GDP anyway, except that the worth of the window's owner has gone down by the value of the window.

This article, by contrast, openly discusses the cost to society of the fact that guns are used to kill people, but it ignores the following facts, which call the entire exercise into question.

"Gun violence" is responsible for 31,672 deaths per year, due to the CDC study. That same study identified 61.2% of those deaths as suicides, and a Washington Examiner study of the No More Names campaign list found that 12.5% of the total mass of the list was made up of criminals who were shot in self-defense by either police or citizens.

This definition of gun violence, which refuses to distinguish between one person whose net worth is negative, a second person who is robbed, a third person who just robbed someone and got into a gunfight with law enforcement, and a fourth person who steals a small arsenal and shoots his mother, 20 of his schoolmates, six of his teachers, and finally himself so that the responding cops don't steal his points, implicitly denies that there is any positive side to gun ownership at all.

Can there be? Look at the third person, the robber. When he killed the second person, how did it affect society's wealth? Granted, it is entirely possible that the robber may in fact have a higher net worth than his victim, but considering that he is resorting to robbery against the victim, it is at best highly unlikely. Now, consider what society stands to gain if that robber is taken out before he can commit that crime, or if after the fact, what society stands to gain if he is prevented from committing a second.

But does this happen enough to be credible as a source? Two studies weigh in on that, one by John Lott, the author of "More Guns, Less Crime" which cites 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year, and one by the Violence Policy Center, which states outright that its mission statement is to discredit the first study and still comes in at 75,000 defensive gun uses in a year, versus the 26.3% of 31,672 = the 8,330 gun violence acts which affect society's net worth negatively.

There are also numerous studies pointing out the negative correlation between civilian gun ownership and violent crime of any kind, suggesting a further positive impact of gun ownership.

Finally, as you mentioned, there is the issue of the Constitution, which would have been my first point if this hadn't been a discussion of economics. Unfortunately, not only have the "common sense" gun laws repeatedly been shown to be ineffective at stopping crime (extranosalley has a wealth of information on that one) whether through being draconian (such as the Assault Weapons Ban listing bayonet lugs and folding stocks as items that make the weapon deadly enough to ban when the only deadly part of it is the actual bullet) or through targeting the wrong people (such as, again, the Assault Weapons Ban, which the ATF has reported are used in, at most, 1% of violent crimes), but the people who tout them have:
-boldfacedly agreed that they don't work (such as talk about background checks not being able to stop the slaughter at Newtown, since the weapons and ammo were legally purchased and background checks were passed by the purchaser, who was also the intended user of the weapons and ammo),
-undercut them by showing example to the contrary (such as Mark Kelly buying an AR15 to demonstrate how easy it is to buy one, then failing the background check AND stating on social media that the intent was to turn it over to the police, the very definition of the straw purchase that gun-grabbers love to hate),
-or demonstrated non-comprehension of the laws that they are pushing (such as every hit you'll get on Youtube for 'the shoulder thing that goes up' referring to a barrel shroud, a banned feature of an assault weapon which is actually nothing but a safety device).

Even if all of the above were completely incorrect, the fact still stands that the Constitution, the document that our legislators, judges, and executives are sworn to uphold, says quite plainly that gun regulations are off-limits. It doesn't even limit the limitations to a branch of the federal government as it does with the first five words of the First Amendment, those being "Congress shall make no law...".


This is not meant for actual responsible gun owners, I'm talking to just the nuts.

You do not need your gun to "take back your country from tyrants" because the method for taking back your country is clearly laid out in the Constitution. Read it sometime.

When I see you with your open carry sidearm in the Circle K, I do not feel safer, I think "wow, if I was a bad guy, I'd grab a nice bottle of Merlot, knock this guy on the head with it from behind, and have myself a free gun!".

You live in Ahwatukee for Pete's sake, not some third world country. Just how scared of life are you?

When I hear about targets being sold with images of Obama, or a kid in a hoodie, or a muslim, or the "zombie" targets that bleed when you shoot them, I think, "Really, you're a grown up man and you act like that".

The number of gun owning households is on the decline, but the number of guns is going up, so it's the same bunch of folks buying all the guns.

If you need half a dozen AR's with 30 round clips to defend your home, I'd suggest you just try being nicer to people. Clearly you are doing something wrong to make that many enemies.

But what I'd really like to know is this: how come you gun-fetish folks never state the entire second amendment? You go off on the right of the people....shall not be infringed".... but never mention the "well regulated" part?

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