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Diane W. Mufson: Many costs associated with recent shooting

Oct. 01, 2013 @ 11:50 PM

Last week, on an ordinary Tuesday evening, six people were shot in an active part of Huntington.  Whether or not you know anyone involved in the incident, this event has numerous costs associated with it.

No one involved claimed that this burst of gunfire was drug related, but then we don’t live under a rock. So let’s just assume it was and consider the probable costs to our community of this one brief incident.

The human and interpersonal costs:  No one wants to get a bullet hole in them.   Anxiety and fear now and in the future has to be present, even in big strong guys.   Let’s guess that someone in the drug business was “unhappy” with the way things were going and decided to send a message.  Some folks may fear that the same person or his “co-workers” might show up again to clarify “business practices.”  So far, no one seems to want to talk about the specifics.

The medical and health care costs:  Has anyone been to the emergency room or been hospitalized over night?  Do you recall how many thousands of dollars a person can rack up on such a bill?   My guess is that most of the individuals involved in this episode, do not have private health insurance through their employer.  Some may have Medicaid or other insurance, but many may be uninsured.  Their health care is not free.   Someone has to reimburse the hospitals and the medical personnel who attended to the victims.  You and I are paying the bills.

Law enforcement costs:  A large law enforcement presence that was needed that evening.  Officers from Huntington Police Department, Cabell County Sheriffs Office and the State Police were all on the scene for a long period of time.  Police work will continue and will require time and extra personnel and, therefore, cost extra dollars.

Next generation costs:  There are plenty of children living in the Northcott area.  That night they learned or relearned that violence and danger are part of everyday life.   Homework or getting a good night’s sleep to be awake for school the next day couldn’t have been important.   What other messages did the young children take away for future use?  And did some teenagers see models for their adult lives?

Community reputation costs:  Huntington is a good city in which to live and raise children.  Those of us who have done so know this.  We also know that a multiple shooting such as this one sends media messages far and wide.  We thought Huntington had learned from the horrible shootings deaths of four teenagers on prom night a few years ago.  Obviously, we haven’t learned enough.

Drug use and addiction costs:  Other than the big illegal monies for drug lords and sellers, there is no plus side to drug use and abuse.  It brings crime, health problems, family disintegration, sorrow and death. 

Unfortunately, no one has found the answer as to how to turn off the craving for drugs, which has brought and will continue to bring unhappiness to many. 

Someone will probably be found guilty of this shooting and incarcerated for this or another crime.  That’s not the real answer to this problem. Prisons cost money, have a high recidivism rate and haven’t solved our problems of drugs and violence so far.

A few minutes of gunfire on Hal Greer Boulevard has many ramifications.  The bottom line is that all of us are paying many costs associated with it.






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