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10. What about violent crime rates?


This article is from the can.talk.guns FAQ, by Skeeter Abell-Smith ab133@sfn.saskatoon.sk.ca with numerous contributions by others.

10. What about violent crime rates?

In 1962, the US per capita violent crime rate was about 185 (violent
crimes per 100,000 persons) and Canada's was around 250. The US rate
has been lower than Canada's ever since, and as can been seen below, the
gap is widening. Note that even though the violent crime rate indicies
include homicides, the US rates are still lower.

    Year    US      Canada
    1962    ~185    ~250
    1967    ~250    ~390
    1972    401     507
    1973    417     534
    1974    461     564
    1975    488     597
    1976    468     596
    1977    476     583
    1978    498     591
    1979    549     621
    1980    597     648
    1981    594     666
    1982    571     686
    1983    538     686
    1984    539     715
    1985    557     751
    1986    618     808
    1987    610     856
    1988    637     898
    1989    663     947
    1990    732     1013
    1991    758     1099
    1994    716     1037
    1995    685      995

More info can be found at:

The violent crime rate is calculated by adding up the number of
homicides, attempted murders, assaults, sexual assaults, other sexual
offences, abductions, and robberies, and dividing by the mean population
(times 100,000). The definitions for the US offences are a bit
different (e.g. they have "rape" whereas Canada has "aggravated sexual
assault") which is one reason some people note that violent crime rates
in different countries should not be directly compared. (Other
differences include criminal law, legal systems, and the way data are
collected and calculated.)

However, it's easy to see that Canada's violent crime rate has been
increasing rapidly -- in spite of increasingly strict gun laws -- and it
has increased faster than the US rate. While the Canadian rate has
been decreasing since 1991, the same is true of the US rate. (Besides,
a 4% decrease hardly compensates for a 400+% increase!)

- Canada's "tough gun laws" came info effect on Jan 1, 1978.
- Increase in Canada's violent crime rate 1977 to 1991: 89%
- Increase in USA's violent crime rate 1977 to 1991: 58%
Also, note that Canada's violent crime rate was dropping 1975 to 1977,
and started climbing sharply after Bill C-51 was passed in 1978. "Gun
control" doesn't seem to have decreased violent crime.

In addition, Canadian break and enter rates were greater than US rates
in 1983 and the difference has only increased since.

US and Canadian residential burglary rates were very similar until 1991
when Canadian rates surpassed the US rates. In 1992, the Canadian
residential burglary rate was 896 (per 100,000 persons) and the US rate
was 774.

"...our 1992 residential/commercial burglary and property crime rates
were 33% and 25% higher, respectively, than our southern neighbours, and
have remained consistently higher than the US for over ten years."
([68]Observations on a One Way Street, 1994, p. 71)

Since 1982, the residential and commercial burglary rate in the US has
been lower than Canada's. It's also interesting to note that since
1982, Canada's rates have been lower than in England/Wales. [StatCan,
the FBI UCRs, the US DoJ crime surveys, and the UK Home Office]

The rate of violent crime in Canada increased 60% between 1982 and 1991,
twice as high as all other Criminal Code offenses combined[2]. Canadian
women are as likely as as men to be victims of crime; however, weapons
were used against 31% of men compared to 19% of women [3]. The majority
of women are victimized in their own home by individuals they know
(particularly husbands or ex-husbands), while men are victimized by
strangers[4]. The common weapons are "other" weapons (such as motor
vehicles, fire, poison, hot water), followed by sharp instruments[5].
Gun control legislation (Bill C-51) was introduced in 1978 in a attempt
to reduce violent crime. Current research indicates that C-51 had
virtually no perceptible impact on violent crime, suicide, or accidental
deaths[6]. The American states bordering Canada have homicide rates
similar to ours despite easier legal access to firearms and liberal
handgun laws[7].

There is no evidence to support the hypothesis that the types and
availability are directly related to increasing rates of either violent
crime or the criminal misuse of firearms. In the absence of firearms,
criminals switch to other weapons or other sources of weapons. No gun
law in any city, state, or nation, has ever reduced violent crime or
slowed its rate or growth compared to similar jurisdictions without such

[2] Juristat Service Bulletin Vol. 12 No 21, "Gender Differences
Among Violent Crime Victims", (Statistics Canada, Circulation
Centre for Justice Statistics, Nov. 1992) p.4
[3] Ibid, p.5, p.9
[4] Ibid, pp.8-9
[5] Ibid.
[6] Robert J. Mundt, "Gun Control and Rates of Firearms
Violence in Canada and the United States", Canadian Journal of
Criminology, Vol. 32 No. 1 (Jan 1990), pp 137-154; and Paul
Blackman, "The Canadian Gun Law, Bill C-51: Its Effectiveness
and Lessons for Research on the Gun Control Issue", American
Society of Criminology, (Nov. 1984)
[7] Gary Kleck and Brett Patterson, "The Impact of Gun Control
and Gun Ownership on City Violence", (1989)
[8] David B. Kopel, op. cit., examined the effectiveness of the
firearms control policies of Japan, Canada, Britain,
Switzerland, Jamaica, Austraila, New Zealand, and the United
States, from a historical and sociological perspective.
Additional source references are: Gary Kleck and Brett
Patterson, op. cit; Joseph P. Magadin and Marshal Medoff, "An
Empirical Analysis of Federal and State Firearms Control Laws",
(1984); Douglas R. Murray, "Handguns, Gun Control Laws and
Firearms Violence", Social Problems, Vol. 23 (1975), Matthew R.
Dezee, "Gun Control Legislation: Impact and Ideology", Law and
Policy Quarterly Vol. 5 (1983), p.367; J. Killias, "Gun
Ownership and Violent Crime", Security Journal, Vol.1 No.3
(1990), p.171; Peter H. Rossi and James D. Wright, "Weapons,
Crimes, and Violence in America: Executive Summary", (US
Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 1981);
Solicitor General of Canada, "Firearms Control in Canada: An
Evaluation", (Ministry of Supply and Services Canada, 1983);
Don B. Kates Jr., "Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics
Speak Out", (North River Press, 1979); and B. Bruce-Briggs,
"The Great American Gun War", The Public Interest, No. 45 (Fall
1976), pp. 37-62


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