The Cost of a Bullet

Each year, hundreds of Mid-Southerners are caught in the crossfire of gun-crime. It's a war that's costing all of us.

The average price of a bullet is about $.25.

It's when these bullets are used to commit a crime that the costs explode. "It's very expensive," said Dr. Martin Croce, Director of the Elvis Presley Trauma Center at the MED. Croce wears a lapel pin featuring a gun with a knot tied in the barrel.

Last year, doctors at the MED treated almost 600 gunshot wound victims. "Sometimes they're the shooter, sometimes they're the shoot-ee, it doesn't really matter, once they cross that door they're our patients," said Croce.

The cost of care starts adding up on the way to the hospital.

An ambulance ride typically costs $600. Factor in special care for a gunshot wound and the price can reach $800. Do the math: That's $480,000 in ambulance costs alone.

"Then on arrival to the trauma center such as this," said Croce, "we've got very specialized people who are involved in taking care of the trauma patients."

The average cost of trauma treatment: $45,120 per patient. Last year, the tab was more than $27 million and in more than half of those cases, you picked up the bill.

"In the patients that have gunshot wounds, about 60% of those patients have no insurance," he said.

There's more. Thirty percent of those bills were paid for by taxpayer-funded programs like Medicaid and TennCare. Commercial insurance companies reimbursed 10% of claims, costs that are also passed on to you.

If those costs seem daunting, consider the fact that we're only talking about medical costs associated with victims who survive. 102 people died from gunshot wounds in Shelby County last year.

The number of violent crimes involving firearms increased more than 18%. Tallying the true cost of a bullet, as the numbers keep rising, proves as hard as stopping them.

The costs don't stop there. Expenses incurred during a firearms trial are staggering, many of them are never made public. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation processes every criminal case in the state. Last year they conducted 250,000 tests on evidence. The price tag was $11.9 million.

To watch a WEB EXCLUSIVE story about the COST OF A BULLET as it shoots through the legal system, click on the video link above.