Does regulating guns result in fewer murders? - Macleans.ca
 

Does regulating guns result in fewer murders?

Murders committed with long guns have declined precipitously, while killings with handguns have held steady


 

In the debate over the federal registry for rifles and shotguns, the strongest argument on the side of those in favour of scrapping it has always been that imposing rules on law-abiding gun owners doesn’t work and isn’t fair. After all, criminals are not about to register their guns, so why inconvenience good citizens?

Although my instinct is to defer to police who say the registry is useful to them, I have always thought there was something to the case against, as the Prime Minister has said, “attacking farmers or duck hunters.” I grew up in a small town where rifles and shotguns were everyday items and I can see why a hunter might feel slighted by having to register.

Still, when you think it through, if gun regulations that only peaceful citizens comply with don’t actually work, then the inherent uselessness of these rules should be evident by now in the historical data on gun offences. In other words, decades of laws that by definition only the lawful obey should have had no measurable impact on violent crime.

But that’s not what the record suggests. Statistics Canada data for the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s tracks a long-term decline in homicides committed with rifles and shotguns (the firearms we regulate), against a stable rate of murders involving handguns (which police say are mostly unregulated black-market weapons).

Between 1975 and 2006, the rate of homicide involving rifles or shotguns decreased by 86 per cent, while the rate of handgun murders didn’t change much. You have to wonder, why the big difference?

One possibility is that new layers of regulation on rifles and shotguns steadily made it more cumbersome to buy one on impulse and imposed more discipline on those who own and sell them. As well, police got new enforcement tools with respect to legally owned guns.

In 1969, for example, police gained the power to seize legally owned firearms, with a warrant, if they suspected somebody was going to misuse a gun. A law passed in 1977 imposed some registration requirements on buyers and sellers of guns. Safety courses for buyers were required starting in 1979. More background information and references from would-be gun owners were demanded starting in the early 1990s. As of January 1, 2001, Canadians needed a licence to buy and own guns. And then came the explosively controversial 2003 law forcing owners to register all of their long guns. (There’s a handy RCMP history of firearms control here.)

If the complaint that regulations do nothing but penalize peaceful hunters were true, then none of this would have made any dent at all in crime. Yet during this long stretch of regulatory reform, murders committed with long guns declined precipitously, while killings with handguns held steady. (This is a key point: if handgun homicide were climbing as long-gun murders fell, then we might suspect that murderers were just switching.)

It’s possible, of course, that there’s some other explanation for the steep drop in rifle and shotgun murders. In fact, I suspect there must be other important contributing factors—there usually are many for any socially complex change in behaviour. Maybe somebody can put forward a plausible theory or, much better, point to some evidence-based research.

However, it’s at least worth pausing to seriously consider that Canada has experienced a long stretch of declining murder perpetrated with the very guns that were, over that same period, subjected to increasing regulation. The onus of proof, then, surely falls on those who would now remove some of those rules.


 
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Does regulating guns result in fewer murders?

  1. So the decline in murders with shotgun preceeded the the registry? If that's the argument for regulations, it's a rather weak one in support of the registry. Unless there was demonstrable change in rate of murder attributed to long-guns, it rather difficult to support the registry on the basis that it is saving lives.

    I don't have any problem with registering guns, per se, and have never fired a weapon, but it seems to me that if you wish to have people register their weapons willingly, making the process as painless as possible ought to be a feature. If, on the other hand, the idea is to discourage either gun ownership or compliance with the registry, one would set up the process exactly at the Liberal government did, with predicable consequences.

    • That's agood point. If we have data going back to the seventies it should be possible to see if there was a further notable decline after the registry came in. If not, or if the figures held steady it's reasonable to conclude that earlier steps taken were sufficient. Particularly if you combine that with evidence of a general decline [ accounting for population growth ] in ownership due to social factors ie., rural population shrinking, Canadians becoming generally less red necked than they were in say 1970.

      • I think the point is that the more general regulation, the less guns are in circulation among criminals or among those who are irresponsible owners. The more hurdles and delays to own and use a gun, the more likely it is that (a) generally fewer guns are in circulation and (b) those who go through all of the hoops to get a legal gun are going to be responsible gun owners.

        • Or (c), you get non-compliance with the registry.

          People are irritated at the complicated process and either don't bother to complete the forms or send in incomplete ones. How does this help? You've got to admit that, on balance, by your definition, irresponsible guns owners are less likely to register long guns.

          • Then it would seem there's an unintended benefit of making it harder for the irrepsonsible to own weapons, and to give a reason to remove their firearms for non-compliance before their irresponsibility takes a more dangerous form.

        • I'm not a fan of this rationale Ted. You used to hear it all the time. Make it as difficult as possible for people to collect welfare, UI or whatever assistance they might need from their govt – in other words discourage and frustrate them in hopes they'll just go away. I suppose it works, that's why they use it, but i think it helps to futher lower peoples opinion of govt – that's not helpful. I like the idea of gun control – if it can be shown to work in a reasonable and least intrusive way as possible. I don't say cost effective, because i believe people will support programmes they deem to be working, even at a cost to their pockets – in other words not everything has to be shown to be paying for itself all the time…are you listening Andrew Coyne?

  2. "If the complaint that regulations do nothing but penalize peaceful hunters were true, then none of this would have made any dent at all in crime."

    I have not been following the details of this debate but are people making that argument or are they talking specifically about the registry? I know a couple of hunters who registered their long-guns and they complain about it because, they claim, that info they provided for registry was mostly the same as they provided to get license in first place. So government is paying a lot of money to keep the same info in two separate databases.

    Why does the government need to know specifically what long-guns you have in your home. Why isn't it enough for government to know you have rifles but not exact make/model?

    And if regulations are responsible for decreasing long-gun homicide rate, why does murder/hand gun rate stay stable? Rules and regs for hand guns are at least as onerous as the ones for long-guns but rate remains the same.

    • "..why does murder/hand gun rate stay stable? Rules and regs for hand guns are at least as onerous as the ones for long-guns but rate remains the same"

      They're not declining, so presumably there's a steady supply of illegal weapons. Puzzling is why they aren't increasing. But what are these figures reative to? Do they take into account exponential growth rate in the cities, and so on?

    • Why does the government need to know specifically what long-guns you have in your home. Why isn't it enough for government to know you have rifles but not exact make/model?

      Traceability.

      In the RCMP report about how useful the registry is that Harper suppressed until after the vote on the registry, it is interesting to note their emphasis on the high usefulness in crime investigation moreso than crime prevention.

      And you surely can see how useful it is to find a gun or bullet at a crime scene and to be able to trace its history. If it was stolen from a legal gun owner, then the evidence of that robbery become very helpful in the murder investigation months later, for example.

      And if getting tough of crime is really what someone believes in, then that should be a big plus for the registry.

      • Excellent post. When I read Jolyon's question, I thought: well I have a drivers licence, but I also register all my motor vehicles — they have different purposes.

        • That's actually a very poor anaology.

          Before the LGR, you still required an FAC to purchase a long-gun, which entailed a background check and an interview with a firearms officer (generally a policeman). When licencing replaced the FAC regime the interview requirement was scrapped. It was deemed too costly, time-consuming and impractical as it would have required millions of man-hours to interview every person (well over a million) who was expected to apply. Instead a more detailed (and flawed, according to the Privacy Commissioner) written application was required to get a licence. But, as could have been expected, in the crush to comply with deadlines, a lot of applications were approved on their face (that is, without verifying the information). Someone actually received a a firearms licence for their parrot. This actually made Canadians a lot less safe.

        • The motor vehicle argument is a typical example of a slippery slope. There was a day when vehicles were not licensed. And at that time, I'm sure there was some opposition to it. Now, that particular decision is being used to justify the licensing of dogs, cats, and long guns used by hunters and farmers. Later on, we may be registering even more items – there is no end to the potential items on the list.

          It's just like the gun registry – I can see the point of a driver's license, but when it comes to registering cars, I cannot see any other reason than the fact that government wants to suck the money out of your pocket. 99.999% of car use is perfectly legit and they make law-abiding citizens register cars because of the 0.001% of us that are bank robbers and reckless drivers and will not stop for a police siren. God forbid people move around in vehicles that are not being tracked by our masters.

          I cannot, in my right mind, fathom why people feel that the government has the right to demand that we register things at their whim.

      • "Traceability."

        Yes, but how often does that happen. Why do police never provide stats on how many crimes per year registry was one of primary tools used to solve cases. It makes me think registry is not doing much if police aren't providing stats on how vital registry is to solving crimes.

        "And you surely can see how useful …. "

        I am not keen to live in Police State so a higher bar than 'useful to cops' needs to be set. I am sure there are all kinds of policies that would be useful to cops but that does not mean I want them introduced.

        • Traceability."

          'Yes, but how often does that happen. Why do police never provide stats on how many crimes per year registry was one of primary tools used to solve cases'

          Pehaps it's not so straight forward as that? Tips, clues, whatever they pick up may not necessarily be easily quantifialble or appear as stats.

          • It would be easy to quantify queries, but not as easy to quantify successful ones.

      • Let's see, what are the problems with this argument?

        Well, in the bad old days, before the LGR, if the police found a rifle next to a dead body they would do a few things: call the manufacturer or their rep and find out where the firearm was sold; contact the gun dealer to find out who purchased the weapon and that person's FAC number; contact the fellow who bought the gun. There were fairly strict record-keeping rules for those who sold firearms, and the costs for keeping the records were borne by business. Ballistic records of individual weapons were not kept (and still aren't) so the bullet part of that argument is hollow.

    • Does regulating guns result in fewer murders? Absolutely Not! If one compares the total number of murders in the 5 year period prior to the gun registry's completion(1998-2002) to the total number of murders in the 5 years after it's completion in 2003, (2004-2008) we find that the number of murders has increased by an average of 64 per year(320 more murders). Of course some will argue that all of the 320 murders weren't by means of firearms, true, but what it really shows is that gun control laws tend to be criminal friendly making life safer for criminals no matter what weapon they use. An example of this effect is Britain where violent crime/per capita is now greater than in the U.S.

      Clearly the gun registry is a threat to our safety.

      For those suppoting the registry on Dec.6th, think about those additional 64 murders per year, tell the families of the victims you haven't lied about public safety.

  3. Regulation of gun ownership – legal gun ownership – started well before the registry.

  4. Long-gun murders tend to be rural crimes. Handgun murders tend to be urban (CMA) crimes.

    According to Statscan:
    The use of handguns to commit homicide has generally been increasing, while the use of rifles/shotguns
    has generally declined over the past 30 years. Handguns were the firearm of choice in major metropolitan
    areas, used in 72% of all firearm homicides. In non-CMA areas, rifles or shotguns were the most prevalent,
    being used in almost half or 48% of all firearm homicides

    When we consider the decline in the long-gun murder rate since 1976, we also have to consider that the share of Canada's population living in rural areas has declined from 34% in 1976 to 19% in 2006.
    http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/21-006-x/21-006-x200… (cf. Figure 6)

    We also have to consider the aging demographics of Canada's rural population (average age is much older than the urban population).

    Hope this helps, John.

    • Well put. You might have added that shotgun ownership is almost exclusively a rural endeavour. People in cities sometimes hunt (although I expect they are a rather small part of that population). If you're going to go after a deer in the fall, you would keep a rifle or two.

      Shotguns are for bird hunters, or for dealing with pests (foxes, snakes, etc…). If you have need for a shotgun. odds are you live in rural Canada, or keep a cottage there. I've never even heard of an urban range (indoor generally) where people can fire shotguns. That doesn't mean they don't exist, it just makes it that much less likely that an urban dweller would keep a shotgun they couldn't shoot (unless they are in a drug gang of course).

    • The fact that this comment was down-rated says all that needs to be said about the idiocy of the comment rating system on these boards.

      • There also might be people like me. Generally speaking, Macleans website is lousy with liberals so I think I am doing something right when I get lots of thumbs down votes. So I give you, s_c_f, myl, htoh and a few others a thumbs down when I agree.

        • Yes, I get a lot of thumbs down too when I run most strongly against the liberal grain. But for you to give me a thumbs down, oh! The betrayal! Et tu, Brute! :-)

          • Macleans is mainly liberal flavoured. I am believer in 'I don't want to belong to any club that will have me as a member'.

          • Oh no, I don't disagree at all. It can be boring on those sites where everyone agrees.

      • I agree, in fact, Crit's point is one that I never would have guessed. By itself it could explain the discrepancy Geddes talks about. Very good comment.

  5. "After all, criminals are not about to register their guns, so why inconvenience good citizens?"

    Doesn't this same argument apply to ALL laws?

    • Yes it does apply to most regulations. We have a more and more regulations applied to all citizens that deal with the anti-social activities of the few.

    • No, it does not.

      Laws governing behaviour are suitable to apply to all citizens, i.e. though shall not kill. Registering "things" is of very dubious value unless these items are used in public areas and the registration number is LARGE enough for police to SEE, i.e. on a car, boat or airplane licence plate. Police can't see the registration number on my rifles, believe me, unless at very close range! And those licensing fees are used to pay for roads, air traffic control, etc. Gun registration is only paying for keeping a few hundred people employed keeping up an inventory list!

    • LICENSING of users which requires safety training, criminal checks, etc. is a reasonable and valid way of keeping firearms away fromunstable or violent individuals. The Registry does NOTHING to influence the behaviour of violent individuals. And frankly, I'm not worried about the method they choose to murder my loved ones; that's immaterial. It's the behaviour I want controlled.

      The registry is error filled, far from complete, and relatively useless to the rank and file police officer, so I'd much rather that money go to improving the behaviour of people, i.e. you shall not rob and kill! That would save lives.

      • So criminals aren't going to register their guns but they are going to get licences and show up for safety training.
        Got it.

        • Mark, are you being thick on purpose?

          None of these laws have any effect on criminals willing to rob, murder, or rape. We are by definition talking about how the average honest citizen will react to laws. The Registry does no good whatsoever. In fact, I would argue it endangers the public because the Registry security has been violated more than 300 times per the Auditor General. Do you think it's a good idea to have a shopping list available to a biker gang willing to bribe a registry employee??

          I was saying that licensing ACTUALLY has safety benefits. Registering my car does not increase public safety, but making me pass a driver's licence testing process arguably does. Clear now?

          • (a) Neither.
            (b) All of these laws have an impact on the general availability of guns within our communities, which, in turn, has an impact on gun related incidents.
            (c) By definitiion a criminal isn't a criminal until they commit a crime. You Conservatives have this blind notion that people, from birth, can be separated into two categories – law abiders and criminals. Crime control isn't simply about preventing and dissuading criminals from committing more crimes, but equally about preventing and dissuading law abiding citizens from committing criminal acts. Your lens for crime control is always on the labeling the actual perpetrator, and rarely on protecting the potential victim.
            (d) Registering your car does absolutely increase public safety, as it requires your vehicle to pass an inspection, be roadworthy, insured, and in some provinces emit cleaner emissions. All of these things make the roads and my community safer for me.

            I can be 'thick' all day.

          • I agree: you can be thick all day. Your post shows your ignorance of the facts of Canada's Gun Control laws.

            Let's be clear, you don't KNOW me, so quit assuming what my political affiliations are and instead, focus on my arguments. I am arguing for EFFECTIVE laws, which by definition are focused on protecting the victim. The Registry does not protect any potential victims, that's what LICENSING does. Look it up: the information is available on a thing called the inter-nets. Al Gore invented it. A Liberal such as you would know that compared to a hillbilly like me.

            (b) "all these laws" – yeah right. The registry by definition does nothing about availability, that again is Licensing.
            (c) Yeah, and the Registry legislation in its wisdom creates "paper" criminals out of gun owners who let their licence lapse. Do you go to jail if your driver's licence lapses?

            So let me get this straight: in your world, people only behave civilized because of laws? Gee, and I though my parents taught me right from wrong. Thank God for the Registry because without it, as a gun owner I'd be a mass murderer following your thinking.

          • (a) what facts have I "shown ignorance of" – please, just one.
            (b) How can I even get to your argument when your premises are so easy to hit instead?
            (c) how does licensing protect a potential victim any more than a registry? Ask a woman who has been slapped around her house a few times which she cares more about – that her on-the-verge-of-abusive husband has a licence proving he knows how to effectively use a gun, or that her local police have a registry that they can use to effectively find it.
            (d) You don't go to jail if your driver's licence lapses. You might, if you go driving with it lapsed. On the other hand, since you raised the issue, can you name one Canadian that has ever spent one night in jail for no other reason than a lapsed firearms gun licence?
            (e) People act civilized for a whole number of reasons. Civilization being one of them. Civilzation is a better place with fewer guns.

          • My premises?? You don't even know how the system works. How can I have a reasonable debate with you about what laws might help safety (and we both want that, right?), when you don't know the facts?

            Please go and read about the process here: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/index-eng.htm

            The LICENSING system qualifies people for possessing or buying firearms. That when the training, reference and criminal checks happen, when spouses are contacted, etc. That's the time when the system protects the public as it qualifies the licensee. The Registry only logs a later purchase of a firearm.

            Go read how many woman die from fists, knives or just plain old blunt objects. A woman who is being abused needs cops to respond to her call, and then have a place to go. You precious Registry money would have provided a lot more of that, don't you think? As it is, its an inaccurate, wholly incomplete (7 million out of 20 million firearms) inventory list.

          • Was the purpose of that last post to advocate a knife licensing regime or a blunt object registry? Can we stick to one debate, please?
            But if you keep raising straw men, I'll respond for entertainment's sake – ask the many women attacked with fists, knives and blunt objects who weren't killed how they would feel about having a few unregistered guns around the house?
            You know what the funny thing is – like you I started today thinking the gun registry was highly ineffective. But the more reasons you offer up in support of that argument, the more I am starting to doubt myself.

          • Straw men – is that what you call my facts? Your doubting yourself is the sign of a weak intellect. Perhaps you should look into counselling.

            Licensing people has some chance of impacting their behaviour. Putting numbers on their property has no such value. You can't see that simple fact. It escapes me why that is.

            How does it improve the lot of any person that they are being attacked by a person with a registered firearm instead of an unregistered one. A person intent on doing harm to an innocent doesn't care a wit about gun laws or knife or brick laws for that matter. A gun charge doesn't mean much when you are facing a murder charge.

            Our gun laws only influence those who intend to follow society's norms anyway. I, as a professional, will lose my designation and thus my livelihood if I get a criminal conviction of any kind. But the wife beater down the street isn't likely impacted that way. And even if he/she is, we have laws against assault already.

            There are much more impactful ways to reduce the impact of violence in our society, without unnecessarily burdening the law abiding gun owner. We as group break far fewer laws than most anyway, so why make us carry around a piece of paper with a registration number on it??

            I want effective gun control, not needless regulation which is only "security theatre". I have 3 children, so I don't want just anyone with a gun. An owner licensing system (which we had before the registry too) is the only meaningful to doing that. To get through to those more criminally minded, dealing with the illegal drug situation will deal with 90% of the handgun murders in this country. There is cause and effect there.

            If this common sense doesn't register with you, then further debate is useless. The majority of Canadians agree with my position.

          • How does it improve the lot of any person that they are being attacked by a person with a registered firearm instead of an unregistered one?

            You take away any unregistered guns you come across. That's the point of the registry.

            If some a gun owner commits a crime, taking away his licence is nowhere near as effective as taking away his gun.

          • @Mark – d) You don't go to jail if your driver's licence lapses. You might, if you go driving with it lapsed. On the other hand, since you raised the issue, can you name one Canadian that has ever spent one night in jail for no other reason than a lapsed firearms gun licence?

            Bruce Montague

          • D'oh!! Thanks, how could I forget Bruce, as I sent him money for his legal fees!!

            Canadian gun owners have been subjected to extremely onerous rules with very substantial penalties. At the same time, the Registry has only made it easier for confiscation to occur at the whim of the Federal government. We are subject to harsher penalties than the average violent gang member.

            And they ask us why we object to the Registry? duhhhhhh

          • Score one point for Happy
            An now for two points 0 name one who spent a night in jail who didn't do it as a publicity stunt.

          • (f) If you think the registry has had no effect on gun ownership, or availability, go ask a retailer who no longer sells them.
            (g) Mea culpa on the political assumption. Let's make a deal – I won't purport to know that you're a Conservative, as long you don't purport to know that I'm any less hillbilly than you.

          • (d) Registering my car is a revenue source for the government, that's all. That may be a valid form of user fee, but it doesn't make the roads safer because my car is registered. We have other laws requiring roadworthy cars, etc. We also require insurance to keep the taxpayer or the victim from paying personal injury costs. This again doesn't make the roads "safer".

            Training and otherwose qualifying drivers makes the absolute biggest difference. You know how to reduce car accidents? 5 year retesting for drivers, and much higher standards which would reduce the number of drivers actually passing.

          • Ok, who's being 'thick' now…?

    • No, because most laws don't require any inconvenience on the part of all citizens. Anyway, I am repeating Carson.

  6. I would like to know why comparing vehicle registry and the long gun registry is considered valid. The vast majority of adult Canadians own and operate a vehicle, usually using that vehicle everyday several times a day. Unintentional deaths (accidents) are the 5th leading cause of death in Canada, and number one leading cause of death in children and young adults under the age of 34. Of those deaths nearly half are vehicle related. Drunk driving is the number one criminal cause of death in Canada.

    Knowing who and what type of vehicle a person is operating is critical in policing traffic violations and public safety.

    How often do we see people walking around in public with a long gun? In what way does registering a long gun provide the public with any measure of added safety or help the police perform their duties more effectively?

    It seems to me that comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges.

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/acc-inj.htm

    • Just so that I am clear, your issue is with registering long guns, yes? Where do you stand on handguns? Do you agree that they should be registered?

    • what about the drunk gun owner?

  7. The author of this op-Ed piece makes one fatal flaw in his argument; he does not go back far enough in his analysis of the stats of crime/murder etc.

    If he had, it would be blatantly clear that crime across the board was lowest in the mid 60’s, coincidentally when we had almost no gun control. The crime rate then peaked in the 70’s and has been in a steady decline since, and we still haven’t hit the low levels of the 60’s.

    All this shows that gun ownership and crime/murder/spousal abuse are not related. Period. It also shows that gun control does not affect crime rates. Therefore, gun control is futile, and only affects those not inclined to commit crimes.

    • "Therefore, gun control is futile, and only affects those not inclined to commit crimes."

      When you say that it affects non-criminals? What is this impact that you speak of, exactly? I'm not following.

    • Right on. Let's not forget that the majority of the change in crime rates is demographic in nature. The percentage of youth was highest in the '70's and has been declining ever since. The graying of our nation has had the most to do with the reduction of crime rates.

      IMHO, the most interesting comparison is the RATE of decrease in crime rates between Canada and the US. The US States where they have introduced (in the last 10 -15 years) "concealed carry" handgun laws (more than 40 States now), i.e. where qualified and trained citizens are allowed to carry a concealed handgun, have had the FASTEST decrease in crime. Before some of you rip my head off, LOOK IT UP!!

      The lesson is that the availability of guns does not increase the crime. It can in fact decrease it if they are in the right hands. We give them to cops don't we?? Flame retardent suit on. ;-)

    • we need to know who is buying a gun and where he is keeping it.

      • The Long Gun Registry will not tell you where the firearm is being kept as the "non-restricted" firearm does not require an authorization to transport and may be lent out to someone of the same license at will.

  8. Nowadays, with the LGR, the police can call an 800 number to find out who owns the rifle. The costs of that service are borne by gun-owners (who still have to pay for their licence and would pay to register their guns if the fees hadn't been waived in 2006. Before that they paid) but mostly by the taxpayer. BTW, those who sell firearms are still required to keep detailed records. So, in essence, the LGR saves the police making two phone calls. The victim is dead either way.

    BTW. on that report you say Harper suppressed. I hear it bears a striking similarity to the numbers John Geddes posted here back in April. How did he get past the suppression? He asked the RCMP and they sent him the info via email.

  9. Homicide rate from longarms has decreased, I am not interested if the rate of longarms deaths has gone down, the question is has the rate of deaths gone down, or is the death rate still the same or increased from other causes. We hear a lot more about stabbing, overdoses, drunkdrivers, and beatings than guns. Law abiding citizens have to be registered(LIcence) to own firearms, so why do the firearms need to be registered. but child molesters, terrorists, murderers, drug dealers have no kind of register. Punish the criminal, not the law-abiding citizen. Collective punishment of law abiding citizens for the acts of the criminal is just wrong. The criminal has more rights than law abidig citizens, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. By reason of the proregisery activists, law abiding citizens are just guilty.

    • wrong…law abiding citizens obey the law. Period.

  10. I live in rural canada. To us here, Muskoka is considered urban. Almost every men I know owns at least one gun for hunting purposes. They all complain about the pain of the gun registry but none of them talk about abolishing it. They'd rather see the speed limits gone or the boat licencing gone than the gun registry. One thing they really hate is how southern people get all the hunting tags when we are the ones with all the hunting land. You won't find a higher concentration of hunters in Ontario than here.

    If they can live with the registry than why can't the politicians.

    On another note I think there are other benefits to the gun registry, less important than murders. It's only when the registry is gone that we'll notice these benefits.

    • Please name one benefit.

      • It's only when the registry is gone that we'll notice these benefits.

    • agree. totally.

  11. As to registering your car (a common argument) there are two problems with that analogy. Firstly, cars cost a good deal more than a typical rifle or shotgun (a few hundred dollars) so registration actually provides a benefit to the owner – it certifies title (the same is true for real estate). However, the flip side of that is that vehicle registration primarily exists to provide revenue to the government. Governments compel registration in order to charge a fee. The fee to register my Honda Civic was $79 this year. My house is subject to thousands in property taxes. If governments taxed guns one could actually see a use for a firearms registry, albeit one that was muuch cheaper (I doubt it would bring in much revenue). Instead they created a billion-dollar behemouth, paid for by taxpayers, that really doesn't generate any positive benefits.

  12. Poljunkie- we are subject to numerous laws that violate the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms.

    We can also have our property banned and confiscated instantly with the stroke of a pen through an Order in Council. These are not things any freedom loving Canadian would support. The only reason it is tolerated is because the majority of people are unaware of the laws, and those who do unwittingly swallow it hook, line and sinker under the guise of public safety.

    • I'm sorry… Registring a long gun violates the charter?

      • No, but the Registry (and the previous handgun registry) could and have been used to confiscate without compensation various firearms the Liberals decided "looked scary". That is a violation of the Charter.

        Besides doing very little to secure Canadians, firearms owners in Canada have very valid reasons to worry that the next Liberal government will once again decide to confiscate their property.

        • YOur charter argument is incorrect.

  13. It's probably worth remembering that the medical profession keeps getting better at saving the lives of people who are shot, especially with less advanced weapons like rifles and shotguns. They have to play catch up with the advances in handguns and automatic weapons. This has an effect on the homicide rate too.

  14. Actually my understanding is that murder by gun is decreasing in the US as well. I think this journalist needs to understand the word correlation and apply it accurately.

    • Another good point. On this page there have been numerous points that can explain the discrepancy Geddes identifies.

  15. …using the Registry. Sorry, missed that.

  16. How so? We have no property rights in Canada, that was a result of the provincial leaders deciding they should have more control than the people.

    But we do have the charter right to security of the person. And as a tool using species, the appropriate tools for self defence are a right, unless a person has proven themselves incapable or dangerous.

  17. Mark- John rew. He was subject to a SWAT raid because his gun licence expired.

    Anon- what the hell are you talking about? Doctors can repair low-tech wounds from rifles and shotguns, but not high-tech wounds from pistols and “assault weapons”? LOL.
    Awesome!

    That is the dumbest thing I have ever read.

  18. The suicide rate in Canada peaked at 15.2 in 1978, dipped below 12 for the first time in 32 years in 2000 and reached a post 1970 low of 11.3 in 2004.

    The average suicide rate per year between 1970 and 1976 was 13.35, between 1977 and 1983 it was 14.5, between 1984 and 1990 it was 13.1, between 1991 and 1997 it was 13 and between 1998 to 2004 it was 12. The number of suicides by firearm in Canada dropped from a high of 1287 in 1978 to a low of 568 in 2004. There was an average of 1033 fire arm suicides per year between 1970 and 1976, 1197 between 1977 and 1983, 1084 between 1984 and 1990, 970 between 1991 and 1997 and 682 between 1998 and 2004.

  19. The number of accidental shooting deaths in Canada stood at 143 in 1971 and has generally declined since then; a low of 20 was reached in 2000. There was an average of 117 accidental shooting deaths per year between 1970 and 1976, 70 between 1977 and 1983, 62.3 between 1984 and 1990, 50.1 between 1991 and 1997 and 28.1 between 1998 and 2004.

    The rate of homicide in Canada peaked in 1975 at 3.03 per 100,000 and has dropped since then, reaching lower peaks in 1985 (2.72 per 100,000) and 1991 (2.69 per 100,000) while declining to 1.73 per 100,000 in 2003. The average murder rate between 1970 and 1976 was 2.52, between 1977 and 1983 it was 2.67, between 1984 and 1990 it was 2.41, between 1991 and 1997 it was 2.23 and between 1998 and 2004 it was 1.82.

  20. So, I'm a law-abiding driver. No moving violations. No DUIs. Don't steal or smuggle cars. No criminal record whatsoever. Live in a relatively rural area.

    Guess I really should not have to license or register my cars. Great news!

    • You should be licensed to prove training and competency in handling a potential lethal 3500 pounds of glass, rubber and metal, IF, you intend to drive it on public roads with the rest of us. If you want to drive it on your private property, go nuts. You don't need a licence or registration for that.

      It's the same argument with the Gun Registry. If the federal Government will allow me to use my firearms in built up areas and will also finance the construction of public shooting ranges from the Registry fees, then we might go along with registration.

      • What a steaming load. Be honest, the real registry objections are rooted in libertarian ideals and just plain personal slothfulness. Same as the "no government is good government / no tax is a good tax" midlesssness we hear from todays Conservatives.

        I'm all for personal freedoms, but reasonable constraints are the price thereof..

        Big stinking deal to fill out a form and pay a modest fee.

        Get over it.

        • Yeah, lets licence your personal property with the promise that when the "wrong" government gets in power, it will be confiscated without compensation. I don't think anyone needs a car, ATV, boat, large screen TV, etc. Where do you stop telling others how to live??

          Reasonable constraints yes, but that means they must do something beyond just creating a list for confiscation. We have proven that the registry does nothing worth its incredible cost and security risk to society (stolen records equals shopping list for organized crime).

          Get over yourself. Its much more than just a form.

  21. s/b "mindlessness", sorry.

  22. To really have some fun , why not let Sheila Fraser do a complete audit of the registry starting at day one .

    • The Lieberals wouldn't want that. Think of the corruption and dirty deals that would uncover.

      • Besides, she's busy auditing Fintrac, where Jim Flaherty gets to keep tabs on the financial transacations of people wearing anything other than a ball cap on their head. Where's the Libertarian outcry now? Hypocrites.

  23. Oh , ….. yeah , ……. they'd actually have to hand over the relevant information . Sorry , my bad .

  24. Well if gun control actually worked, one would think the gun grabbers would have some proof of it by now.

    Next time you idiots have to line up 6 months ahead of time for an MRI – you might want to think again about how much two billion dollars actually is.

    • I'll start with Geddes' statistics. In the decades since legislating the ownership of firearms began, crime rates, particularly those with long guns, have been in continual decline.

  25. all guns should be banned

    • Unfortunately that will solve nothing, it's been tried elsewhere. Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica, and the UK have restrictions and bans far stricter than Canada and it hasn't made them any safer.

      Prior to 1978, there was no licensing in Canada and all firearms up to and including Machine guns were perfectly legal. Firearms were used in approx. 1/3 of homicides.

      In 2002, with our current system (including a massive list of prohibited firearms) , firearms were used in 1/3 of the homicides.

      That is not to say that Licensing, screening, and safety education isn't important, just that prohibitions don't work.

  26. the main purpose of the gun registery to to allow the goverment to seize your property on any pretext they can come up with to disarm the public. If you have an accident they do not take your car if you make a threa they will take your gun but not your car , hunting is the only sport where making a mistake is against the law , again they seize your gun.

  27. "According to Statscan:
    The use of handguns to commit homicide has generally been increasing, while the use of rifles/shotguns
    has generally declined over the past 30 years. "

    Has nothing to do with the registry. It has to do with the change over from long guns to commit homicide to easier to conceal and carry handguns….which have been "registered" since the '30's. The long gun registry has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue.

    In fact, compiled data and published reports from the Department of Justice and StatsCanada shows no significant decrease in the number of suicides or murders, the total number being relatively the same each year since the early 1970's.

  28. Mr. Geddes…

    For 40 years firearms, via associations such as hunting/shooting clubs across N. America, and especially the NRA, have focused on safety training, particularly for youth. The decline in both accidents and crimes involving long guns is in direct relationship to this fact.

    A couple of interesting facts for you, from studies and other sources I’ve seen over the past two decades…

    1) The National Safety Council in the US, some years back, published a statistical report on “sports” related injuries per 100,000 emergency room visits. Sports injuries from football and similar contact activities were at the top of the list, something over 3000/100,000 visits. At the very bottom of the list, after billiards (about 15) and table tennis (about 9) came “hunting” at 7.

    2) A study was conducted to compare the incidents of youth who partake in shooting sports against those who do not relative to involvement in crime activities. The net result was that the percentage of kids involved in the shooting/hunting sports who subsequently commit indictable crimes was statistically immeasurable, a mere fraction of the national average.

    3) I can buy $5,000,000 worth of liability insurance to cover me on any shooting range in Canada for a year as a member of the NFA for the astounding sum of $7.95. Why so cheap? Because basically nobody ever get hurt on a shooting range. It’s an exceedingly safe place to visit…firearms in hand.

    I provided some links in your last post on this subject to more facts, I hope you took the time to have a read.

    Again, there is absolutely no co-relation between implementation of registration for long guns and decreases in violent crimes. In fact, firearms owners support licensing, and the screening that goes with it, because…make no mistake about this…as a group we more than anyone else are cognizant of, and try to avoid, all the negative publicity that arises from gun violence.

  29. There are two good reasons to have laws that only the lawful obey (isn't that true of every law?) First, if police catch someone with an unregistered firearm, he is likely to be a criminal and they can act right away, before the firearm is used in a crime. Second, and the Conservative government deserves credit for this new effective use of the registry, as soon as someone is convicted of a crime making them ineligible to own firearms, police know exactly what weapons have to be taken away.

    Interesting facts: you are more likely to be shot in rural areas than in cities, and in the west than in the east, and long guns are still the weapons of choice in the west and rural areas. The provinces that refuse to enforce the Firearms Act are the ones with the most firearm violence, and where it is now rising sharply rather than decreasing.
    http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2009004/art

    • Fact: 17% of firearms related homicides in 2008 were committed with long guns. The balance involved primarily handguns, and to a lesser degree restricted weapons.

      And, yes, the gun registry certainly enables confiscation. In Britain it enabled the left wing government to confiscate handguns from legal owners. And in Australia it enabled their left wing government to confiscate all semi-auto and pump action shotguns (i.e. duck hunting guns) and rifles…about 650,000 of them.

      Note that I said “left wing” governments. This is the kind of crap that left wing wannabe do-gooders love to inflict on societies as they go about “socially re-engineering” the world about them. I’m a gun owner, and I don’t trust the Liberal Left as far as I can throw them! And never will! Registration of firearms is a construct of the left, providing an essential means by which to ultimately disarm populations. Always has been, always will be.

      When the Liberal Left says “Trust us, we don’t want your firearms!”, gun owners innately know it’s time to cover their butts.

  30. What folks fail to realize is that, in a domestic disturbance, the weapon of choice is a standard kitchen knife. If someon is going to kill someone and there are no guns or knives around, they will use whatever is handy.
    The money would have been far better spent on a kitchen knife registry if one wants to take the "gun registry provides safety" approach.

  31. As noted, murders with rifles and shotguns have been on a steady decline for more than 30 years – a trend well established before the Firearms Act. Economic changes and changes in demography would impact that trend positively – not noted in the article. A case can be made for vetting citizens applying for a license and the benefits of national level firearms courses but that has to do strictly with licensing and has nothing to do with firearms registration. Registration has failed to produce the results promised as noted by the Auditor General. It is a boondoggle and must be ended. Bill C-391 ONLY removes the registration of rifles, shotgun, (crossbows??) BUT leaves INTACT personal licensing requirements.

    The Liberals and other anti-sport groups intentionally confuse the issue of registration and licensing in their attempt to defend the indefensible – the long gun registry. The author has missed that point in this article.