Buffalo spent $500,000 unbudgeted dollars on overtime and services in the two weeks immediately after a white gunman stormed a local supermarket on May 14, killing 10 Black people in a racist attack, Mayor Byron Brown said Tuesday in a congressional hearing on mass shootings and local economic consequences.
The community where the shooting occurred had already been subjected to decades of segregation, disparate health outcomes and economic inequality. Now city officials are tasked with ensuring the massacre’s aftermath doesn’t make that reality even worse for Buffalo’s East Side.
“Every mass shooting has a significant economic impact,” Brown said in prepared testimony before a House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations panel. “However, the mass shooting in Buffalo was different. It was an act of domestic terrorism fueled by racism and white supremacy. This was perceived to be not only an attack on Black Buffalo, but an attack on Black America.”
Research suggests surges in gun violence are associated with reduced economic growth, slower home-value appreciation and fewer new jobs, Brown told lawmakers in the hearing.
The neighborhood will now need funding to account for “counseling, educational enrichment and lost wages, as well as additional supports to ensure an equitable starting point in life,” he added.
But the economic consequences of a mass shooting aren’t unique to his community. After a spate of shooting massacres across the U.S. — including one in May that left 19 students and two teachers dead at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, as well as the killings in Buffalo — legislators sought to examine the potential financial impacts.
“‘Just as we must concern ourselves with saving lives, we must also concern ourselves with the impact on the quality of life after a mass shooting.’”
— Rep. Al Green, a Texas Democrat
There have already been more than 300 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter.
The economic fallout from the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde alone is estimated at $244.2 million, Sarah Burd-Sharps, the senior director of research for the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, a group focused on anti-gun violence awareness and educational work, said in prepared written testimony.
“Just as we must concern ourselves with saving lives, we must also concern ourselves with the impact on the quality of life after a mass shooting,” Rep. Al Green, a Texas Democrat and the subcommittee’s chairman, said in his opening remarks.
Those impacts can be long lasting and severe, experts warned in their testimony. Abel Brodeur, an economist and professor at the University of Ottawa who studies the economic consequences of crime and mass shootings, said the ramifications are often “tremendous and permanent” for local economies, citing his own research with University of New South Wales economist Hasin Yousaf examining the aftermath of mass shootings in the U.S. from 2000 to 2015.
After mass shootings, “we find a decrease in employment of about 2%, a decrease in earnings of 2.5%, a decrease in housing prices, and also a decrease in the wages, potentially due to a decrease in productivity,” Brodeur said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Tom Emmer, a Minnesota Republican and the subcommittee’s ranking member, said last year’s increased rate of violent crime in big cities is having similarly negative economic consequences, particularly for small-business owners. He charged that law-enforcement agencies do not have the resources to address such issues, taking aim at the “defund the police” movement, which seeks to reallocate money from police departments toward community resources like housing and mental-health programs.
To be sure, many big cities actually expanded their police budgets last year, NBC News reported.
Brian Ingram, a restaurateur and business owner in St. Paul, Minn., spoke to Emmer’s point, saying escalating crime has become a “daily part of life.” He said his businesses have been burglarized several times since 2020.
“Soft-on-crime policies have made matters worse in jurisdictions where crime rates are highest,” Emmer said.