Firearm-related incidents in BC not only lead to serious injuries and death, they result in large health care and criminal justice system costs to society, according to a new publication by BCIRPU researchers.

Published in January in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, the study details the impact of firearm injuries and deaths in BC from 2012 to 2016.

Nearly one-in-three homicides in Canada are firearm-related, reflecting a significant uptrend where shootings have consistently exceeded stabbings and beatings as the most common method of homicide. The rate of firearm-related crime in Canada increased by 7% from 2018 to 2019.

In BC, violent injuries from firearms resulted in 108 deaths, and 245 hospitalizations that resulted in 56 disabilities over the 5-year study period. The total estimated cost of all violent firearm crime was an average of $294.4 million per year. Other costs on average each year:

  • Human costs: $188.4 million;
    • Health care costs: $3.9 million;
      • Hospitalization costs: $2.7 million ($55,390 per person hospitalized)
    • Loss of life: $162.6 million:
  • Criminal justice system: $105.0 million; and
  • Programming costs: $941,000.

When it comes to disability from hospitalization, the cost was $767,217 per year ($68,501 per person with a disability).

“Everyone knows that the impact of firearm-related injuries and deaths has a huge burden on people and society,” said Dr. Ian Pike, lead author of the study. “What may surprise people are the ‘invisible costs’: those on the health care system, productivity loss, policing, and programming.”

Dr. Pike and the study authors recommend investment in evidence-based initiatives that combat firearm violence and injury, such as the Firearm Violence Prevention Act (FVPA) being considered by the Government of BC and the federal Bill C-21 addressing gun violence in Canada.

The study was done in collaboration with Policing and Security Branch of the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. To supplement this project, BCIRPU researchers will be conducting a study on the trends and patterns of firearm injuries in BC.

Read the study.