1. Firearms and Firearm Owners in Canada

1.5 The Lawful Firearm Owner as Murderer?

Firearm prohibitionists speciously argue that homicides and assaults are typically committed by family members, friends, or acquaintances - "average" citizens who lose it under the stress of everyday life and kill with their legally acquired firearms. This assertion is conceptually unpersuasive. Simply because two persons know one another doesn't mean they're on mutually friendly terms, nor does it follow that because someone accused of homicide knows or is related to his/her victim that they must be an "ordinary, average" citizen rather than someone with a long criminal history. This argument makes sense only if criminals had no friends and were not related to anyone. The terms "friend" and "acquaintance" cover examples such as a drug addict killing their dealer in the course of a robbery or gang members and organized crime "families" killing one another.

The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics reports that in 1991, two-thirds of all accused murderers were known to have criminal records, the majority for previous violent offenses, and were already prohibited from legally acquiring or possessing firearms [20]. In 1991, 45% of homicide victims were also known to have a criminal history [21].

Alcohol and drug abuse was evident in 70% of all males and 50% of all females accused of homicide offenses in 1991 [22]. Canadian criminologists Neil Boyd estimated that alcohol abuse has been the most important contributing factor in two of every three homicides in Canada [23]. Its's quite evident that these individuals are not "average" citizens.

"In the popular literature on guns (and even much of the scholarly literature), the 'typical' private weapons owner is often depicted as a virtual psychopath - unstable, violent, dangerous.... There is no clear evidence suggesting them to be an especially unstable or violent or maladapted lot; their 'personality profiles' are largely indistinct from those of the rest of the population [24].

"We conclude from the review that there is little or no conclusive, or even suggestive evidence to show that gun ownership among the population is, per se, an important cause of criminal violence [25]. "

Wright, et al., Under the Gun