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26. How many people in Canada legally own firearms?


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

26. How many people in Canada legally own firearms?

According to the United Nations, Canada ranks third among the developed
western coutries (behind the US and Norway) in civilian ownership of
firearms.[40] A 1992 survey sponsored by the UN reported that 26% of
Canadians, over 7,000,000 people, own firearms.[41] A 1991 Justice
Department telephone survey indicated there were an average of 2.67
firearms in one of every four Canadian Households, with 71% having
access to a rifle, 64% to a shotgun, and 12% to a handgun. They
calculated that there are over six million legally owned firearms in
Canada. Other authorities insist that this estimate is much too low and
that there are at least 20,000,000 rifles and shotguns in Canada; as
many, per capita, as in the United States. [1]

Past government surveys of much larger populations showed there were at
least 15,000,000 legal firearms back in the 1970s.[39] The government's
own estimate in Dec. 1976, published as part of its gun control
campaign, was 6,000,000 owners with 18,000,000 firearms. During
hearings on the Campbell bill, officials from the office of the Minister
of Justice testified that the long-term average net annual importation
of firearms into Canada (imports minus exports) was 190,000 per year.
Therefore, adding 190,000 per year to the 18,000,000 of 1976, we get a
total of 21,610,000 by Dec 1993. Subtract 610,000 plus one firearm for
every firearm manufactured in Canada during those 17 years as an
allowance for firearms destroyed, dismantled or worn out--and you are
back at 21,000,000 firearms with 7,000,000 owners. [38]

There were 1,221,179 registered restricted firearms in the RCMP FRAS
records in Dec 1993. The unrestricted firearm to "restricted" firearm
ratio is at least 20:1. Conservatively, that means 24,423,580
unrestricted plus 1,221,179 restricted. Allowing for errors in the
RCMP's registration system, we strike off 221,179 registered firearms as
non-existent, which reduces the total to 21,000,000 firearms with
7,000,000 owners. [38]

Restricted firearm ownership increased from 861,571 in Dec 1984 to
1,221,179 in Dec 93, an increase of (1,221,179 - 861,571) divided by
861,571 = 41.74 per cent in 9 years. Those figures are solid, because
they are taken from the Annual Report of the Commissioner of the RCMP.
The NFA estimates that the 1976 figure for total firearms owned,
18,000,000, increased to 21,000,000 by 1993. That represents a "total
firearms" increase of only 16.67 per cent in 17 years, which is again
quite conservative. [38]

None of the above estimates include any figures for illegally imported
firearms, which are known to have increased sharply each time
restrictive, costly, and/or vague legislation has made legal ownership
more complicated, more expensive, and/or more risky. [38]

[39]For a more detailed analysis, try one of these URLs:

[1] David B. Kopel, "The Samurai, The Mountie, and The Cowboy:
Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of other Democracies",
(Prometheus Books, 1992), p.136
[38] David A. Tomlinson, _How Many Firearms and Owners are
There in Canada?_, leaflet, 1994
[40] Understanding Crime: Experiences of Crime and Crime Control,
(United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute,
Pulications No. 49, Aug., 1993), p.292
[41] Ibid, p.481


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