Gun owners in and around Chicago last week started paying a new $25 tax on every firearm they purchase. In California, a statehouse panel on April 15 will hear testimony on a nickel-per-bullet tax measure, and in New Jersey, lawmakers want to slap an additional 5 percent sales tax on guns and ammo…

Ted Miller, an economist at the Maryland-based Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, found that shootings cost the U.S. economy $174 billion in 2010 if you include factors such as law enforcement, medical care, lost wages and pain and suffering.

That’s because communities often pick up the tab for law enforcement, correctional facilities and other types of criminal justice. They can also incur medical bills from treating gunshot victims’ wounds or even lose property tax revenue when housing prices decline in unsafe neighborhoods.

“Economists will argue a tax is justifiable if someone’s personal transaction has costs that affect people other than those involved in that transaction. … you can clearly make that case for guns,” said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, who supports the idea.