16 Years After Columbine, Gun Violence Isn't Going Anywhere

Monday marks the 16th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The school has been closed, as it has been every April 20 since, and students and faculty are encouraged to gather at the Columbine Memorial that pays tribute to the 12 students and one teacher killed in the 1999 mass shooting, murdered by high-schoolers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The school is also hosting a Run for Remembrance May 2.

Sixteen years after two teenagers opened fire at Columbine before killing themselves, gun violence has not subsided or even slowed down. A report published by Mother Jones this month highlights the exorbitantly high cost of gun violence in America, costing Americans almost as much as we spend on Medicaid each year.

Mother Jones calculated that the repercussions of gun violence, from medical bills to counseling, costs Americans $229 billion annually. For comparison's sake, the nation spends $224 billion on obesity each year and $251 billion on Medicaid. Gun violence costs the country $55 billion more than the tech-giant Apple's $174 billion in annual revenue. This report is the first cumulative data about the financial effects of gun violence in the country, and the high price tag on gun-related injuries proves that this isn't just a safety or ideology problem, but also an economic one.

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According to Mother Jones, every gun death ends up costing about $6 million and each gun-related injury that requires hospitalization racks up an average of $583,000. In short, aside from being deadly, gun violence is extremely costly.

It's not just heightened coverage of shootings that makes it seem like a more prevalent issue these days. A 2014 FBI report shows that mass shootings are occurring more frequently than they did in the past, with roughly one per month from 2000 to 2013 nationwide. During that period, 160 incidents led to 486 deaths and 557 injuries, not including the deaths or injuries of the shooters themselves. These statistics only account for instances in which a shooter attempts to kill people in a populated area; in 2013 there were 11,208 firearm homicides in the U.S.

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Sixteen years after the first major school shooting in the United States — and the deadliest high school mass murder to date — violence isn't only costing lives; it's literally costing Americans billions of dollars each year.

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