2. Firearm Violence

2.2 Homicide

As with firearm accidents and injuries, by presenting large numbers calculated over long time periods, firearm prohibitionists mislead the general public into believeing that homicide is a common occurence in Canada and that Canadians are all in immediate peril of being murdered by guns. In fact, between 1926-1992, homicide in Canada never accounted for more than one death for every 33,000 Canadians; homicide by firearm never more than one out of every 76,000 [22]. In 1992, homicide by firearm accounted for one victim for every 111,000 Canadians compared to non-firearm methods with accounted for one out of every 56,000 [23].

Firearms have not typically been over-represented in Canadian homicide. There is no historical evidence to reinforce the prohibitionist's argument that restrictive gun control will reduce violent crime and firearm-related murders and suicides. While shooting deaths makes up the largest single propostion of homicides and suicides, the overwhelming majority of homicides and suicides are committed by other methods. Between 1926-1992, 64% of all the homicides in Canada involved non-firearm methods; e.g., cutting/piercing instruments or personal weapons (hands, fists, feet) [24]. This proportion remained relatively stable during the same period.

Firearm and non-firearm homicide and suicide rates were substantially lower when gun control in this country were casual compared to our current regulations. [25]. Even during periods of severe social turmoil such as the Great Depression of the 1930's, World War II, and the Korean conflict, homicide and suicide rates in Canada were less than one-half of what they are today and remained remarkably stable for almost half a century.

Prior to 1978, automatic and semiautomatic "military-style" firearms were freely available to responsible Canadians. If one accepts the premise advanced by firearm prohibitionists that increased firearm availability, especially of automatic weapons and semiautomatics "military-style assualt" firearms, are directly related to increased levels of violent crime and suicide, then there should have been a higher level of misuse when the laws were lax. There is no evidence to support this claim.

The arguments that additional gun controls will reduce violent crime and suicide have littel empirical support. Many sociologists and criminologists believe that increasing crime is related more to the breakdown in social controls than gun control. [26].

Firearm prohibitionists attempt to portray gun ownership as the most important contributing factor in domestic killings and crimes of violence directed as women. While it is true that Canadian women are as likely as men to be victims of violent crime, weapons (of all types) are used against 31% of male victims compared to 19% of female victims [27]. The most common weapons used in violent crime, whether directed against men or women in Canada, are "other" weapons (e.g., fire, poison, hot water, motor vehicles), followed by sharp intruments [28]. Firearms are rarely encountered in cases of sexual assault where brute force is almost always used. [29].

Domestic homicides by firearm represent only 11% of all the homicides in Canada [30]. As with Canadian homicide in general, firearms are not frequently used in domestic homicide. Between 1974-1992, over 60% of all domestic homicides in Canada did not involve guns and overall, the homicide rate for Canadian women has been one-half that of Canadian men [31]. Moreover, domestic homicides are almost always preceded by a long history of recurring family violence combined with substance abuse and committed by any weapon close at hand [32]. Between 1974-1992, spousal homicide rates in Canada remained stable and do not appear to have been affected by the 1977 firearm legislation [33].

"The evidence is firm that attacks with a gun lead to the death of the victim approximately two to six times more often than attacks with knives. This might imply that guns are intrinsically more lethal (in which case their restriction might lower the homicide rate), but it might imply only that people who are intent on bringing death to their victim preferentially choose firearms as the means (in which case firearms restrictions would not lower the homicide rate). Nothing in the literature allows one to choose definitively between these possibilities." [34]

Wright, et al., Under the Gun

"In sum, the best one can say is that the literature fails to make a consistent or convincing case for an impact of guns on violence rates. Put more negatively, one could say that the literature has little of persuasive nature to say on the matter, and that the few studies that adequately addressed the key technical problems have generally found no impact of gun levels on violence rates." [35]

"...procontrol propaganda is notable for what it almost entirely omits - any discussion of examples of successful gun control laws. Surely anyone whose support for gun control was based on a belief that it could reduce violence would place great emphasis on such success stories, even if they were spurious, yet propagandists often devote vitrually no space to even making an argument for such results-based rationale." [36]

Kleck, Point Blank