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Congressman Beyer cites economic cost of gun violence in effort to spark change

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As the human tragedy of gun violence mounts with every mass shooting, so does the economic toll.

What's the economic toll of gun violence? According to Everytown for Gun Safety, it's more than $14 billion a year for Virginia. That’s a total that includes everything from medical costs of gunshot wounds to increased security to harden schools.

Congressman Don Beyer is a Democrat from Alexandria who says getting a sense of the economic toll could be an important step in working toward a solution.

"Today, the United States will spend $49.3 million – today, 49 million – on just the medical care, first responders, ambulances, police and criminal justice services related to gun violence – and 49 million tomorrow," Beyer says. "We will pay this price tomorrow, the next day, and every day thereafter until we, as a nation, decide to address this epidemic."

Philip Van Cleve at the Virginia Citizens Defense League says Beyer is grandstanding.

"He wants to blame gun manufacturers for the misuse of their products by violent criminals," he says. "Following that logic, since Beyer owns a car dealership, he should be held liable if a car he has sold causes death and destruction because someone was driving that vehicle while intoxicated."

One of the changes Beyer says Congress should consider is reforming the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which he says protects gun manufacturers from being held accountable for the damage done by their products.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.