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Even After Gun Violence Occurs, the Government Often Fails Survivors

February 25, 2018 in Blogs

By Liz Posner, AlterNet

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A new investigation shows that victim's compensation funds aren't working very well.

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week claimed 17 lives and resulted in 14 gunshot injuries. As a heightened national conversation around gun control unfolds, we should stay focused on ensuring that the injured students and faculty are adequately provided for. But as a new report by the Trace reveals, in addition to doing a lousy job of preventing gun violence, state governments are doing a poor job of caring for the victims of mass shootings when they occur.

Seven-hundred-and-fifty-thousand Americans were injured by gunfire in the past decade, and 430,000 survived. Surviving gun violence is expensive, and too many victims end up paying for the costs out of pocket. Dr. Robert Sege, who has studied the topic extensively, told NPR, “the direct medical costs that we found for the year 2009 alone was $148 million. But those are the hospital charges. In addition, each child had physician charges. They may have had x-rays. They may have had rehabilitation costs, and of course their parents had lost work.”

This is what happened to Jennifer Longdon, who was shot in her car one night in 2004 along with her husband while the two were leaving the martial-arts studio in Phoenix that he owned. Longdon was left paraplegic after a five-month hospital stay. Mother Jones writes that, “shortly after the shooting, her health insurance provider found a way to drop her coverage based on a preexisting condition. She would be hospitalized three more times in quick succession, twice for infections and once for a broken bone; all told, the bills would approach $1 million in the first year alone. Longdon was forced to file for personal bankruptcy—a stinging humiliation …read more


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