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Gun Violence in Canada

Yesterday Paul Martin’s Liberals made campaign headlines with a plan to ban handguns in Canada.  The Jane-Finch neighborhood in Toronto has been the target of a series of shootings recently, and the issue of gun control plays well to Canadians. 

I grabbed a couple of numbers out of a very large list of gun statistics published in the Citizen this morning:

  • 7.1 million registered firearms in Canada
  • 172 gun related homicides in Canada in 2004
  • 112 committed with handguns
  • 71 gang-related homicides in Canada in 2004
  • 70.4 percent of gang-related homicides committed with a gun
  • 20.7 percent of non-gang related homicides committed with a gun

The highest concentration of gun violence is amongst gangs.  50 out of the 70 gang murders last year used guns, and 32 of those murders were carried out with hand guns. 

In the best case, assuming that the homicides committed with a handgun would never have occurred in any other way, 112 lives might be saved by the Liberal ban.  Mr. Martin is proposing to spend $590 million dollars to accomplish this.

Wouldn’t that money be better spent on the root cause of this violence? Rebuilding the ghettos of Toronto? Better policing at the border? Programs to target organized crime?

The facts are that Canada doesn’t have a gun violence problem.  The UK, which has sweeping bans on guns of all kinds, experienced 9974 gun related homicides in 2002 — a rate close to 125 deaths per million people annually.  Here in Canada, we experience about 5 deaths per million.

The gun registry we have today is doing it’s job.  There’s no need for an outright ban on handguns.  The existing restrictions work just fine.

The people who’s children are dying on the streets of Toronto are being used as a campaign prop by the Liberals.  What an outrageous and  cynical act! 

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • madvoiper December 9, 2005, 5:59 am

    As per normal for central Canadians, you speak as tho Toronto is the whole of Canada; it's not. Those 112 handgun deaths from last year have more than doubled this year, with a bunch of em right here in lotusland.

    Although I agree that banning handguns really only keeps the honest from using them, I don't think the Liberals' policy is an outrageous and cynical act, although it may be a bit of a knee jerk reaction. I will say that PM P.M.'s action is a heck of a lot less frightening than Stephen Harper's response of "that won't solve the issue so let's do nothing". Let me add, I am definitely no big fan of the liberals, but they are heckuva lot less frightening to me than the alternatives.

    On CFOX, (the local rock radio station here) yesterday they brought it up, and everyone agreed that something has to be done about gun violence NOW, and everyone agreed that although the liberals proposed solution doesn't solve the problem, its a bigger start than anyone else is showing us. Also, I don't think their proposal stops at gun legislation; there is a bunch in there about harsher penalties and increased law enforcement. I believe a big part of that 500 plus million bucks is the law enforcement…

  • Alec December 9, 2005, 7:02 am

    Martin's reaction is due to the endless stream of gun violence stories coming from the media here which are focused on Toronto. I am sure that out in Vancouver there are also gun violence problems, but he's reacting to Toronto. In any case, what I said applies equally well across the country. We've already got one of the lowest rates of gun-related homicide in the world. Most types of weapons you can buy today are heavily regulated. Why not focus on the root causes of the problems? Why invest millions in a ban when the registry is already doing its job well?

    And yes, I did do some further digging on the story after writing this piece. There are a variety of initiatives being planned. The Liberals mis-positioned the whole thing as a hand gun ban. If they'd been smart they would have announced initiatives to deal with gun violence, rather than an outright ban. Defang the Conservatives at the same time, because nobody can argue that dealing with violence is a bad thing. Instead they rolled border patrolling and everything else into a $590 million news piece with an outrageous headline guaranteed to alienate a good percentage of voters.

    The truth appears to be an expenditure of $30 million annually for five years, plus legislation to ban handguns. The details are available here: http://www.liberal.ca/news_e.aspx?id=1143. The money may not even be spent, as well, since it's money that's being offered to the provinces to enact their own handgun bans. Sorry to be cynical, but that looks like pretty good value for the Liberal parties campaign dollars, wouldn't you say? Martin makes an over the top election promise that he may never have to keep, and get re-elected in the process.

    So, it's $150 million rather than $590 million. It's still too much for the result being achieved.

  • Vijay Anand December 9, 2005, 9:20 am

    You make a very valid point Alec. Thanks for the insight.

    I couldn't understand as well (though I am in India at the moment, I still keep up with Canadian news). I don't think the gangs care one way or the other if there is a ban. I don't think they were carrying regulated guns for the most part. So a ban wouldn't necessarily do anything. The only smart thing, as you said, is to cause a ripple in the environment to positively affect the atmosphere and give them something else to do, think and work towards.

  • Steven Kendrick December 26, 2005, 3:53 pm

    A better statistic was the cost of the UK handgun ban. According to the National Audit Office and the Home Office the cost of the handgun ban was £97 million (including admin costs), and that was in GB where there were 200,000 handguns, of which 160,000 were surrendered for compensation.

    According to the Canadian Firearm Centre, there are around 1.1 million registered handguns in Canada, assume that 80% of those are surrendered for compensation, that means 880,000 handguns. Take into account inflation since the British handgun ban and you're looking at a compensation cost around $1.3 billion by my reckoning.

  • BBSB June 9, 2006, 7:44 am

    Scuse me

  • charlie.... June 4, 2008, 3:30 pm

    man…. why people wanna b bannin dem guns. what me n my bnoys gonna do tan eat?n cant stick no body up, cant rob no store, cant blast a man that gona kill me if i was slangin drugs….fuck a ban and paul martin the B**** A**n motherF******. sum 1 should make him a statistic. 590 million…get people out the ghetto man. save sum for me, s***, i could put it ta better use than that goof. he wont even fly a f***** canadian flag on his company boats n he was primeminister. S*** im 16 n i can see he is an idiot. maybe next time when we have an election i should go look in the crack spot for a candidate.

  • Dwayne September 22, 2008, 2:26 pm

    Even if all legal gun owners gave up their guns, there will still be gun violence. Criminals are not legal gun owners, they use black market guns. So to them, the ban does not apply. After all, there's a ban on illegal drugs, but that doesn't stop the drug trade either.

    If every law abiding adult had a loaded hand gun holstered on them, then the criminals wouldn't be inclined to use their illegal guns. Women wouldn't get attacked by knife wielding rapists, burglers wouldn't enter buildings. Schools wouldn't get attacked by social retards. And morons like Charlie would shut up!

  • Carly November 4, 2008, 2:07 pm

    Even if everyone had a gun, that doesn't mean that everyone would know how to handle them. While trying to defend themselves, many civilians end up harming themselves or innocent bystanders because they don't know how to operate that type of weapon. This is why arming the country isn't the best solution. Also, there are less…deadly…weapons such as pepper spray and mace. Sometimes, that minute or so it takes for the assailant to regain their vision is all it takes to get away.

  • bryce May 6, 2009, 9:27 am

    guns are deadly……..hawt

  • carole douaire August 31, 2009, 5:46 pm

    Carly… So is a chain saw….or a vehicle. LEARN how to use the bloody thing. (NPI

  • Steven Alexander November 30, 2009, 8:17 am

    Wow I had no idea how low your gun crime is even thow you share the same firearm heritage as the United States and have about the same laws. thats just goes to prove that people are the problem and guns are just a tool. Stop the criminal from haveing the gun the the law abiding citizen Suport you legal gun ownership

  • bryden December 24, 2009, 6:31 am

    I do agree that the gun registry helps the police identify homes with firearms before they respond to a call at a residence but the gun registry does not stop gang shootings and neither will banning hand guns. criminals and gang members do not use registered or legaly aquired guns anyway, and all a ban would do is disarm the honest law abiding citizens. just my opinion.

  • Katrina March 30, 2010, 8:41 am

    Banning guns is stupid…we should concentrate on stoping the violence -learning what causes people to do this and putting them away from where they will harm others- instead of banning from the innocent people who mean no harm. I mean, I'm 17 and I can figure that out!

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