2. Firearm Violence

2.4 International Comparisons

"...commonly compared foreign nations with strict gun controls had lower violence rates before controls were implemented,...one therefore cannot conclude from such simple cross-national comparisons that stricter gun controls reduced violence." [51]

Kleck, Point Blank

Firearm prohibitionists constantly repeat that the United States has the highest homicide rate in the western world. That statement is false. According to the World Health Organization, this dubious distinction belongs to countries such as Mexico and Jamaica, which have homicides rates almost twice as high as the U.S. [52].

Russia virtually prohibits gun ownership by civilians (as does Jamaica) but has a murder rate higher than either the United States or Canada [53]. The majority of the European nations, with the exception of Switzerland where firearm ownership is a citizen's obligation, exhibit homicide rates similar or higher than Canada despite much more restrictive gun control laws [54].

The states of the American midwest exhibit homicide rates substantially lower than the adjoining Canadian prairie provinces despite easier legal access to firearms and liberal handgun laws [55].

Britain prohibits centerfire semiautomatic and pump action rifles. All firearm and shotgun owners and their guns are resitered. Compliance with the firearm control bureaucracy's storage requirements are expensive and rigorously enforced [56]. Firearm prohibitionists credit these strict and often puzzling firearm laws (a shotgun for many years was not considered a firearm in Britain) for a low level of gun-related homicde and violent crime, unfortunately, this is nothing more than an illusion [57]. Great Britain had much lower levels of homicide and violent crime when their gun laws were casual compared to the existing legislation [58].

While the firearm and non-firearm robbery rates in both Canada and the United States declined during the 1980's, in Great Britain the firearm/non-firearm robbery rates grew by over 100% and increased steadily after extremely restrictive firearm control laws had substantially decreased the legal ownership of firearms [59]. While the number of legal firearm owners in Great Britain has been declining due to a hostile gun control bureaucracy, crimes involving firearms increased 196% between 1981-1992 [60].

Great Britain's harsh firearm regulations have been ineffective at controlling increasing levels of gun-related crime. As in Canada, the persons who abide by the laws and regulations concerning the acquisition and ownership of firearms are the least likely to commit any crimes with them.

One of the reasons Great Britain has maintained a relatively low violent crime rate is because criminals face stiff sentences for crimes of violence. A life sentence for murder in Great Britain is taken far more seriously than in Canada. Any released murderer who violates any aspect of parole is immediately returned to custody for the rest of their natural life. Convictions for violent crimes in Great Britain typically carry an average sentence of 20 months; robbery, 48 months [61].

The British experience with firearm controls is in sharp contrast to Switzerland, one of the few countries in the world without a standing army. Virtually every adult male belongs to the citizen's militia and is required to keep an assualt rifle, ammunition, gas mask, and other military equipment readily available in their home. When the individual's term of militia service ends, usually around age 50, he keeps his issue military weapon. Obsolete military firearms are sold freely to Swiss citizens [62].

In a nation of only six million people, there are at least two milion firearms, including 600,000 automatic assault rifles and 500,000 pistols [63]. If firearms availability is directly linked to violent crime, then Switzerland should be the most violent place on earth; however, their homicide rate is identical to Britain's and similar to the majority of nations in Europe which exhibit much more restrictive gun control laws [64].

Contrary to the assertions made by firearm prohibitionists in Canada, gun control cannot be credited for low crime rates in Great Britain, Japan, or other nations. While these countries exhibit strict and by our standards, draconian, gun laws, the black market in these coutries still provides a readily available supply of illegal firearms. Gun registration has proven itself of no utility in solving or preventing crimes of violence. Gun control may reduce suicides by firearm, but available evidence suggests that other methods of equal efficiency are substituted.

"...there is some evidence that under some conditions gun-related crimes can be reduced through gun control legislation, but this outcome will be neither very common nor especially pronounced." [65].