This article is from the can.talk.guns FAQ, by Skeeter Abell-Smith firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Recent Angus Reid polls that asked "Do you favour stricter gun control?"
had between 58% and 80% of the respondents answering yes. However when
asked "What should the Government do to fight crime?", less than 1%
responded by saying "more gun control". "Do you agree that the courts
are presently much too lenient in punishing criminals using guns?" 86%
said yes. "Do you agree that law abiding sportsmen, recreational
shooters and collectors should not lose their guns because the the
actions of relatively few criminals?" 82% said yes. A September 1991
nationwide Gallup poll found that 88% of Canadians favour severe
penalties for crimes involving firearms, while only 8% were in favour of
increasing restrictions over existing firearms owners. Sixty-eight per
cent felt that passing more severe laws over legitimate gun users will
have very little influence on criminals.
The January 1996 and 1995 issues of Macleans revealed that only 5% of
Canadians would pass stricter firearm laws to reduce crime rates
[Maclean's, Jan 1996] and that only 5% (of the 85% of Canadians who
believe crime has increased in the last 10 years and not stayed the same
or decreased) believe that too few/too lax "gun control" laws have
caused the perceived crime increase[Maclean's, Jan 1995].
Most polling questions are vague: "Do support strict gun control?" Few
polls have asked about specific laws. Angus Reid and the CBC conducted
a survey in May 1995 that showed opposition to Bill C-68 (now "Chapter
39") in Saskatchewan was 73%. "Strongly oppose" was chosen by 56% and
"oppose" by 17%. "Support" was chosen by 12%, while 13% answered
"strongly support". These results were quite consistant across all ages,
income levels, rural and urban centres, and both sexes. [Angus-Reid,
CBC: Sask issue poll 15-0011-21, 24 May 1995]
When Prof. H. Taylor Buckner surveyed students at Concordia University,
he found that while 86% said they favoured the new firearm law, 85% said
the favoured the present law. Thus, students who signed the petition
are just as favourable to the present law, which they do not know about,
as they are to the proposed new law. The Concordia Administrators could
have obtained the same 200,000 signatures if they had asked for
Parliament to pass the present law.
The students also had very little knowledge of Canada's current laws.
Only five percent of the students who signed the petition knew that less
than 20% (actually an average of 10% to a high in 1991 of 17%) of
murders in Canada were committed with handguns; the most frequent
guesses were that handguns accounted for 50% to 80% of the murders.
Less than 1% of those who signed the petition knew the maximum penalty
for having a handgun without a police permit is a five year prison term;
the most frequent guess was that there is a maximum penalty of a $500
(According to Statistics Canada data, an average of only 4 homicides a
year are committed with one of the million plus legal handguns, the
other hundred or so are with already illegal handguns. In 1991, both
legal and illegal handguns accounted for 4 accidental deaths (5 people
were killed by lightning), and 43 suicides, 41 of whom were men with an
average age of 47.)
In other findings, 89% of the students who signed the petition do not
know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun, and 71% do not know
that the magazine of a gun does not have a trigger. Sixty-three per
cent of the students who signed the petition thought that gun control
laws affect only the law-abiding, that criminals can always get guns.
Thus a majority does not think the new law, proposed by the petition they
signed, would be effective.
For the more information, please refer to the 92 page report
"Canadian Attitudes Toward Gun Control: The Real Story", by Gary
Mauser and H. Taylor Buckner. This Mackenzine Institute paper reveals
that strong support for firearm prohibitions and other strict controls
exists mostly in densely populated urban ridings. Canadians' answers to
the detailed questions reveal a few other surprises as well. The paper
can be found at http://teapot.usask.ca/cdn-firearms/Mauser/gunstory.html
Coalition For Gun Control fact sheet.
National Firearms Association fact sheet.
H. Taylor Buckner, "Report On The Concordia `Gun Control Petition'