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Gun Violence’s Hidden Cost: A Call for Safer Communities

As the devastating aftermath of gun violence continues to haunt communities across the United States, its ripple effects extend far beyond the immediate tragedy. We at Virginia Moms for Change are committed to addressing the impact of gun violence. We have witnessed firsthand the profound consequences of two recent incidents in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In November 2022, the shooting of UVA football players sent shockwaves through the University of Virginia and beyond. Following closely, in June 2023, a tragic shooting at Huguenot High School’s graduation in Richmond, Virginia, brought immense sorrow to the community. Beyond the obvious emotional and psychological trauma faced by victims and their families, these tragic events have also had significant financial repercussions, affecting local economies, schools, and businesses. It's estimated that gun violence costs Virginia $14.2 billion dollars annually, of which $288.3 million is paid by taxpayers (Source: Everytown). The ripple effects of gun violence reach far beyond immediate victims and their families. It is essential for those who vote with the economy in mind to acknowledge and address the financial toll of gun violence.

One of the immediate financial impacts of gun violence on communities is the loss of revenue from canceled events. In the case of the UVA football players' shooting, the university cancelled two scheduled football games in the wake of the tragedy. These games can be major revenue generators for universities, drawing large crowds of spectators, visitors, and alumni who contribute to local businesses through spending on tickets, concessions, merchandise, and accommodations. With a game cancellation, not only does the university suffer a direct financial blow, but local businesses that rely on the influx of visitors also experience a loss in revenue.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Gun violence places an enormous burden on healthcare and emergency services, which can have significant financial consequences for communities. Treating gunshot victims, especially those with severe injuries, requires substantial resources and medical expertise. Emergency services must also respond quickly and efficiently to incidents, requiring additional funding and personnel. The strain on these essential services may lead to increased costs for local governments and taxpayers.

The shooting at Huguenot High School’s graduation in Richmond had a profound impact on education in the community. Schools were temporarily shut down as law enforcement investigated the incident, leaving students and teachers traumatized and unable to resume their normal routines. Parents were left scrambling to cover childcare. As the school year ended abruptly in June, we recall countless stories of teachers and students saying, “we didn’t get to say goodbye to our classmates this year.” Additionally, there are costs associated with implementing security measures to ensure the safety of students and staff. These costs can divert funds away from other educational initiatives and programs, impacting the overall quality of education in the area.

Photo credit: ABCNews 8 Richmond

Gun violence incidents can lead to a decline in property values in affected neighborhoods. Potential homebuyers may be wary of moving into an area with a history of violence, causing demand to decrease and prices to drop. This situation not only affects homeowners' equity but also reduces property tax revenue for local governments, making it more challenging to fund essential services.

By collectively raising awareness and advocating for policy changes, we can strive for safer communities where growth and prosperity can flourish without the constant threat of gun violence. Together, let's build a future where safety is prioritized, and the hidden costs of gun violence are no longer ignored.

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