1. Firearms and Firearm Owners in Canada

1.1 How Many Firearms? How Many Owners?

It is necessary for firearm prohibitionists to convince non-gun owners that the concerns of a "small" number of legitimate civilian firearm users have no validity - they're "well-intentioned but misinformed" - and, more importantly, not numerous enough to exert any significant political influence [4]. Consequently, groups such as the Coalition for Gun Control (CGC) consistently misrepresent the results of a March, 1991, Department of Justice survey regarding firearms ownership in Canada by stating that there are 3,000,000 firearm owners in this country [5]. The Justice Department's research reflected firearm ownership on a per household, not an individual basis. The study consisted of a series of telephone surveys with 2,341 households where individuals had admitted to a stranger, over the telephone, that there were firearms in the home [6].

The Justice Department estimated from this limited sample size that there are 6,000,000 firearms in Canada with an average of 2.67 firearms in one of every four Canadian households. Estimates of firearms in Canada based on historical import/export records puts the humber closer to 21,000,000 [7]. Given that firearms are extremely durable goods with a long lifespan (a century is not unusual), and given the inherent constraints of telephone surveys, there is considerable reason to believe that the Justice Department's figures are extremely conservative [8]. A 1992 survey sponsored by the United Nations reported that 26% of Canadians - over 7,000,000 people - own firearms and that Canada ranks third among the developed western countries, behind the United States and Norway, in the civilian ownership of firearms [9]. "