Gun Violence Cost: Chicago Killings Cost $2.5 Billion A Year -- $2,500 Per Household -- According To Analysis

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 13:  Crime scene tape hangs from a fence near the location where 21-year-old Ronald Baskin was shot and kil
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 13: Crime scene tape hangs from a fence near the location where 21-year-old Ronald Baskin was shot and killed Sunday afternoon on May 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Three people were shot and killed and at least six others were wounded in gun violence in the city this past weekend. Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy held a press conference today to announce his department had seized more that 2,500 illegal firearms in the city so far this year. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Following Chicago's staggering 2012 total of more than 500 homicides, the human toll of gun violence in the Windy City is well-known.

$2.5 billion a year.

The multi-billion-dollar figure breaks down to an average of $2,500 per Chicago household, per year, University of Chicago Crime Lab director Jens Ludwig tells Bloomberg.

Some of the costs were intangible, such as impacts to quality of life like keeping children from playing outdoors in a violent neighborhood; others have firm figures attached. A sampling of Bloomberg's analysis includes:

  • $900 — 1,200: Cost of a typical ambulance ride to the ER
  • $800: "Incremental costs" for an autopsy by the medical examiner
  • $52,000: Average cost for acute trauma care of of gunshot victims, 70 percent of whom are uninsured
  • $35,000: Average cost of care at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago where 1/20th of the patients are gunshot victims

Not only does violence destroy local business, but Ludwig tells American Public Media's Marketplace that every homicide in Chicago reduces the city's population by 70 people.

“One thing that happens when violence is driving people and business out of the city is that it obviously reduces the tax base, which denigrates the ability of the city government to address the violence problem, which generates more violence, which drives out more tax base,” Ludwig says.

Another obvious way gun-related crimes sap the city's resources is through police overhead. Joseph Salemme, commander of detectives for the South Side, told Bloomberg "every murder incurs overtime,” with extreme cases consuming 1,000 to 1,500 hours of “premium pay.”

A 2012 study from the Center for American Progress estimated that overall violence, not just that of guns, puts a $5.3 Billion annual dent in the collective wallet of Chicago. The study postulates reducing homicides by 25 percent would boost Chicago's home values by $5.5 billion.

Watch PBS Newshour's "Gun Violence Is Public Health Crisis in Chicago"



Crime In Chicago