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Report: MD Gunshot Survivors Need Outreach, Support

Amnesty Internationalís new report on compensating gunshot victims says gun violence in the U.S. is a human rights crisis, and that survivors and families need effective reparations. (Adobe Stock)
Amnesty Internationalís new report on compensating gunshot victims says gun violence in the U.S. is a human rights crisis, and that survivors and families need effective reparations. (Adobe Stock)
July 19, 2019

BALTIMORE – Survivors of firearm violence in Maryland, and their families, aren't getting the support they need to cope with their recovery and trauma, according to a new report.

Amnesty International says a combination of too much paperwork and not enough outreach keeps people from accessing a Maryland program to help gunshot victims. In 2017, the report says most common reason for denying an application for victim compensation across all states was incomplete information on paperwork.

Jasmeet Sidhu, research manager at Amnesty International, says 24% of denials were for this reason.

"The paperwork surrounding applying to these funds, it's hard to kind of navigate the system,” says Sidhu. “And for people who don't have support, or don't have access to some of that paperwork, it can be just kind of overwhelming."

The research surveyed survivors in cities with high rates of gun violence in Maryland, Florida and Louisiana. The report says there were more than 700 firearm-related deaths in Maryland in 2017, but only 199 victim-compensation applications – and of those, just 54 were approved.

In Maryland, much of the gun violence is concentrated in Baltimore. The report says the city has the second-highest homicide rate in the country, with more than 300 a year since 2015.

Sidhu says it would be helpful to have more outreach, through law enforcement or hospitals in communities where there are large numbers of shootings.

"We know that nationwide, most of the gun violence survivors are young and most of them are men, and most of them are black,” says Sidhu. “So, ensuring that people who fall within those impacted communities have adequate information to take advantage of these resources."

On average in the U.S., gunshot victims received $1,466 in victim compensation during the study period. But in Maryland, that average was just over $4,100.

While it sounds high in comparison, Johns Hopkins University estimates an emergency-room visit costs a Maryland shooting victim more than $5,200. If they're admitted to the hospital, that bill climbs to more than $95,000.

Diane Bernard/Dan Heyman, Public News Service - MD