The Urban Institute just published an important report on the costs of gun violence. Titled, "The Hospital Costs of Firearm Assaults," it attempts to calculate the costs associated with hospitalizations due to shootings based on reports from hospital admitting units and emergency rooms. Not surprisingly, the report found that more than 50 percent of gun-shot victims either had no insurance or were covered by public plans supported by taxpayer revenues. Since the total cost for all gunshot admissions was slightly short of $630 million, this means that Uncle Sam Taxpayer got stuck with at least half the bill.
Unfortunately, there's only one problem with this report. The data covers one year -- 2010. During that year, roughly 50,000 people were admitted to hospital in-patient and emergency units with gun-shot wounds. But according to the Department of Justice and the CDC, there were over 100,000 gun shootings that resulted in death or injuries in 2010. So where did the other 50,000 go? Maybe we can eliminate most of the 19,000 suicides that resulted from using guns because most of those folks went to the morgue. But if that's true, it still leaves another 30,000 men, women and children who got shot but found some other way to deal with their wounds besides going to the hospital. Maybe they went to a local clinic, or maybe there's some over-the-counter remedy now available that takes care of the common gun shot the way that Ibuprofen takes care of the common cold.
Or maybe someone ought to get their data straight.