Legally registered guns ‘rarely’ used to commit criminal acts

Legally registered guns ‘rarely’ used to commit criminal acts

By Greg Dunn

A recent Statistics Canada report confirms that people with unregistered firearms are responsible for the majority of gun-related crime in Canada. This should be a wake-up call for the federal government, which has been unfairly targeting legitimate firearm owners through gun control legislation.

Firearms and Violent Crime in Canada, 2022 covers various aspects of Canada’s justice system. It notes that the rate of firearm-related violent crime in Canada reached a 14-year high in 2022, with police services reporting nearly 14,000 firearm-related violent crimes.

That number may sound significant but it only represents 2.8 per cent of all violent crimes reported by the police that year, states the report. The rate of firearm-related violent crime was 36.7 incidents per 100,000 population in 2022, an 8.9 per cent increase from the previous year.

Crimes involving firearms are increasing

“Moreover, firearm-related violent crime increased more quickly than other types of violent crimes,” the StatsCan report details. “From 2021 to 2022, the firearm-related violent crime rate rose 8.9 per cent while the increase was 2.7 per cent for all violent crimes combined.”

We can all agree that Canada has a gun-crime problem. But who is to blame for that? The report exonerates registered firearms owners.

“The firearms used in homicides were rarely legal firearms used by their legal owners who were in good standing,” Statistics Canada states.

It adds that “in most cases (36 homicides), the firearm was illegal; that is, it had never been legally owned in Canada.”

Of these 36 illegal firearms, 20 were sent for tracing. StatsCan found that “six of these were American in origin, while the origin of the 14 others was not known.”

The report also highlights that in most firearm-related homicides, the accused did not possess a valid licence for the specific class of firearm used.

“Among homicides where information was available, the accused had a licence in only 13 per cent (16 out of 119 homicides) involving handguns and 12 per cent (7 out of 59) involving rifles or shotguns,” it states.

Gun control measures miss the mark

It is no wonder that this report is stirring anger from firearm advocacy groups.

“Over the last eight years, we’ve been subjected to some of the most outrageous political rhetoric from the liberals, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois while crime and chaos has broken long-standing records,” states Rod Giltaca, CEO of the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights in a report on the True North website.

“This coalition government has bragged endlessly about their implementation of ‘the most significant in gun control in a generation,’” he adds. “Not only are more Canadians left terrorized, dead and injured than in the last 30 years, but they’ve dealt more damage to gun clubs and the law-abiding firearms community than any government in the history of our country.”

Simon Fraser University professor Gary A. Mauser is a prominent opponent of Canada’s gun control measures. He notes, “Canada’s firearms legislation is revealed to lack a solid foundation. Any apparent success is a mirage. The firearms regulations consist of an excessively complex bureaucracy, expensive as well as arbitrary, that cannot be shown to enhance public safety.”

Mauser says the laws do little or nothing to protect the public from violent criminals or to protect desperate people from suicide.

“Focusing on guns rather than violent criminals lets Ottawa pose as a protector of public safety while maintaining progressive police and court policies,” he writes. “Such a strategy allows the government to court progressive activist groups and avoid charges of overt racism.”

As I wrote in May 2021 blog post, Shooting holes in the Liberals’ latest gun control plan, “lawful gun owners are already under tremendous scrutiny, with the vast majority meticulously adhering to the existing and rigorous firearms regulations. Many know the myriad of rules better than the lawyers who defend them in court. They understand that firearm ownership is a fragile privilege in this country. That’s why they are extremely careful about how they purchase, store and use a weapon … the small segment of the population who do not have valid firearms licences or training, and who use illegal weapons in criminal activity. They will not give up their weapons because the government has imposed additional regulations on lawful owners.”

Six per cent increase in gun crime in Alberta

According to the StatsCan report, Ontario accounted for the most gun crime in 2022, with 4,791 incidents, a jump of 26 per cent from the previous year.

Alberta recorded an increase of nearly six per cent in firearm-related violent crime incidents per 100,000 people in 2022.

A 2022 StatsCan report explains why gun crime grabs the headlines.

“Consistent with historical trends … firearm-related violent crime typically represents less than three per cent of police-reported violent crime in Canada; nevertheless, it has a significant emotional and physical impact on victims, families and communities,” it states.

The report also goes on to say why the public often does not know if a legally registered weapon was used in the commission of a crime.

“There are limitations in our knowledge about firearms used in crime. There is little information currently collected about the characteristics of these firearms, such as details about the exact type of gun, who owned it (e.g., accused, victim, or someone else), how it was stored, or whether the owner was licensed.

“Of particular concern, there is currently little information available to determine the source of firearms used in crime: for example, whether a gun used in a crime was stolen, illegally purchased or smuggled into the country” StatsCan adds. This information is sometimes not recorded by police services, recorded inconsistently or, in some cases, the information is simply not available.”

Guns used in crime are not traced

No province requires investigators to send guns used in crimes for tracing, the agency found.

“There are a number of additional gaps in our knowledge of the nature of firearm-related violence in Canada,” it adds. “The extent to which organized crime is involved in firearm-related violence is currently unclear. Patterns in the ethnicity, Indigenous identity (with the exception of homicide data), and socioeconomic characteristics of both victims and persons accused of firearm-related violence are also unknown.”

According to a federal report, approximately 26 per cent of Canadian households “own some sort of firearm … in total, it is estimated that about three million civilians in Canada own firearms.”

It also states that:

  • 95 per cent of firearm-owning households in Canada possess long guns and less than 12 per cent own handguns.
  • Canadian firearm owners tend to be male and are more likely to reside in smaller communities.
  • Approximately seven million firearms are estimated to be owned by private. individuals; this number includes as many as 1.2 million restricted firearms.
  • The overall rate of firearm ownership is at least 241 per 1,000 population and is comparable to ownership rates in other countries where hunting is a significant activity.
  • Little is known about the sources of legal firearms in Canada.
  • During the past 10 years, the number of firearms imported into Canada for use by private individuals has declined considerably.
  • Hunting continues to be the main reason for owning a firearm. Self-protection is rarely cited as a primary reason.

Contact us for assistance

The rights of Canadian gun owners are constantly challenged in and out of the courtroom. If you are facing a firearms-related charge in Alberta, contact us for a free consultation.

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