As his city continues to recover from a daytime attack on a supermarket, Mayor Byron Brown of Buffalo, N.Y., said Tuesday that federal funds should be available "to address the economic damage to communities that suffer mass shootings."
Testifying before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Brown told lawmakers that Buffalo spent $500,000 in unbudgeted funds in the two weeks after the May 14 shooting, including overtime pay for police, fire and sanitation workers, and that far more was needed to deal with the trauma and lost income.
"This event has the potential to harm Buffalo's already economically disadvantaged Black community and further grow inequality," Brown said, according to The Hill. "We must do whatever we can to combat this and provide the East Buffalo community with the funding for services such as counseling, educational enrichment and lost wages.
"There should be federal funding to address the economic damage to communities that suffer mass shootings," he added.
The alleged shooter, 19-year-old Payton Gendron, of Conklin, N.Y., opened fire on shoppers at the Tops Friendly Market grocery store and faces multiple federal hate crime charges carrying the potential of the death penalty in the killing of 10 Black people, according to the Justice Department.
According to Abel Brodeur, an economist and associate professor at the Universty of Ottawa who has studied U.S. mass shootings between 2003 and 2013, the impacts of such events "are tremendous and permanent."
"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 told The Hill.
During Brown's testimony, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., asked the Buffalo mayor whether he thought it was fair that gun manufacturers profit while communities affected by mass shootings "pay such a steep price."
"The financial consequences are devastating to communities, and I believe that gun manufacturers do have a role to play," Brown said. "They should suffer liability for these crimes that are being committed in our communities."
Brown also highlighted "over a century" of federal underfunding of Black and brown communities.
"This has led to unacceptable increases in gun violence, segregation, crime, poor health outcomes and generational poverty," the mayor said. "These factors made Buffalo a target for the May 14 shooter, whose stated goal was to kill as many Black people as possible."
Predicting where mass shootings will occur is difficult, Brodeur told The Hill, but he used the example of natural disasters to show how the federal government can help communities recover more quickly from traumatic events.
"When we look at the economic consequences of these disasters, usually they're not permanent; they're short run," the economist said.
"And one of the big differences between natural disasters and mass shootings is when there's a mass shooting, there is no support for these communities, financial support," he added. "They need financial support after a mass shooting."
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