A new report finds the overall economic cost of gun violence in New Jersey is a staggering $3.3 billion.

According to Laura Cutilletta, the legal director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, directly measurable costs include “lost income, costs to employers, the cost to the state for police and criminal justice, like court proceedings and law enforcement, and health care costs.”

She said the other category of cost — pain and suffering — is harder to measure, but estimated it totals at least $2.1 billion.

The research also estimates “gun violence in New Jersey actually costs taxpayers approximately $273 million a year."

Cutilletta said when someone is shot there is a severe impact on the local business community.

“It affects the neighborhood. It affects the anxiety level and the fear and basically just the culture in the neighborhood which can keep customers away,” she said. “It can force businesses to relocate or limit their hours of operation. It limits tourism in some cases, and these are all things that have a negative impact on the bottom line for businesses.”

Cutilletta said on average there are 2,014 shootings a year in the Garden State, including homicides, suicides, non-fatal shootings and unintentional shootings.

“For homicides or assaults that don’t result in death, it costs $1.8 billion, and that includes both the directly measurable costs and the pain and suffering costs," she said.

She added for suicide and non-fatal self-harm cases, the cost to the state is $1.2 billion, while unintentional shootings cost $143 million.

She noted New Jersey has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation but said more can be done to reduce gun violence related costs and save lives.

She advocated extreme risk protection orders “which would allow somebody who knows that a family member, or if law enforcement knows that a person is eminently dangerous and they’re armed — they can petition a court to have guns temporarily removed from that person.” Pending legislation would allow such orders to be put in place.

She said “that can avert a potential mass shooting, a suicide or just a regular homicide.”

Cutilletta added another really important concrete step “would be for everyone to lock their guns when they’re in their home, and store them unloaded.”

She said this could prevent many suicides, especially among teens who are vulnerable to impulsive acts.

Multiple requests for comment about the report were made to the National Rifle Association, however those requests were not answered.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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