News 3 Investigates the cost of gun violence for victims and communities

A recent analysis reveals gun violence costs each Virginia resident $1,667 per year. The cost to the community, as a whole, can take many years to overcome.
Crime Scene
Posted at 4:55 AM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 10:26:06-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - When the police sirens fade away and the crime scene tape comes down, communities across Hampton Roads are left paying an immense price. Aside from the physical and psychological toll, gun violence leaves another lasting impact on all of us: the cost.

"We are concerned for the communities out there," says Kassandra Bullock of the Virginia Victims Fund.

The fund uses money from restitution and court fines to help crime victims and families with expenses such as funeral expenses, physician and hospital bills, lost wages and domestic loss of support.

"The maximum cap of a claim is $35,000," Bullock adds. "The maximum for a funeral is $10,000."

In 2021, the fund approved more than 1,200 claims, totaling $5.4 million paid out to victims and their families. That sounds like a lot, but is it? What is the true cost of gun violence?

A recent analysis reveals gun violence costs Virginia more than $14 billion every year. That includes medical care, police, court, and jail costs, lost wages, and a loss of quality of life. Taxpayers foot the bill for about $288 million of that total, at an average cost of $1,667 for each Virginia resident, every year.

But even that may only scratch the surface.

"The biggest concern, for me, is the post traumatic stress disorder that affects our K-12 students," says News 3 crime analyst Richard James, a retired detective for Norfolk Police Department. James worries gun violence impacts a child's education and earnings potential. Students who do succeed often leave as soon as they can.

"That leaves a void in the community for those people who can bring capacity to the community, to make better things happen for that community," James adds. "And then of course, property values decrease."

Each bullet fired becomes another nail in the coffin. Robbing neighborhoods, and cities, of hope.

"If you have a community that has increased crime stats, would a Fortune 500 company move to that particular location? I know the answer to that, that's no."

A cruel cycle leaving too many of our communities with a price they just cannot afford to pay.

"In terms of gun violence, what we're doing right now, is not working," James adds.