Today Connecticut experienced one of the worst school shootings in US history. At least 28 have been killed among them 17 children. This would rank up at the second most deadly school shooting in US history (behind Virginia Tech). These school shootings are national tragedies and are stack up more dead by loons with assault weapons.
I’ve never been for assault weapons but for personal protection I cannot say I’m against owning guns. But lets just see how much it costs for this right – and is it worth paying for it.
According to Wikipedia, the United States experiences roughly 31 thousand deaths by firearms per year – a little more than half are suicide related and the other 45% and change are homicides.
According to valuations on human life (controversial) the average American life is worth somewhere between 4-9.1 million dollars, depending on which agency is doing the valuation. With this figure in mind, lets find out how much these deaths cost us.
In aggregate, gun related deaths (not counting injuries, so this is a conservative estimate) costs somewhere between 124-282 billion dollars per annum in lost potential. This figure doesn’t take into account that most of these deaths are among young people who have a higher “value of life”. If we take into account just homicides we have a figure closer to something between 60 and 135 billion dollars.
What we have here is where people (those with guns) are being subsidized in part by those without guns in the sense that the cost is shared with society, but the benefit is only gained by those who in fact own guns (those who can kill people more easily).
The violence poverty center estimates that a little more than 20 percent of Americans own guns, and on average those who own them own multiple. If my calculation is correct there are then roughly 60 million Americans who own a gun in the United States.
These horrible events are a reminder that we need to do something. If we cannot “ban” weapons then we should step up regulation, and this includes paying the cost of ownership, in my estimate somewhere between 124-282 billion dollars per year. That is equivalent to a tax levy of 2066-4700 dollars per gun owner per year (counting just homicides it is about 1000-2200 per owner).
We should out of fairness to the community require such fees for ownership unless someone can show some need out of a non-lethal capacity (why don’t we just give everyone stun guns or bean bags?) Add this fee, and see how many gun deaths we have.
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