Statistics Canada exaggerates gun violence because of an absurd definition of “firearms-related crime.” A few years ago I compared so-called “firearms-related” violent crime with the actual criminal misuse of firearms by analyzing a Special Request to Statistics Canada.
The result is that gun violence appears to be four times more frequent than it really is.
A Special Request I made to Statistics Canada back in 2014 revealed that a gun was actually used in just 1,194 violent crimes in 2013. Gun violence only occurred in one- quarter of “firearms-related” crimes and in just 0.5% of violent crimes.
Without looking too closely at the definition, it is easy to confuse “firearms-related” crime with incidents of actual gun misuse. They are not identical. Statistics Canada defines “firearms-related” crime” as when “a gun is present during the commission of the crime.” Just “present,” not “used.” This means that a crime may be “firearms-related” even though the gun was not directly involved in committing the crime or injuring the victim. It was just found somewhere at the scene of the crime.
The Statistics Canada definition is unreasonably broad because it means that every violent crime committed in a gun-owning household automatically becomes a “firearms-related” crime. Regardless of the nature of the violent crime, all that is required to fall under the definition is for someone in the household to own a gun. The criminal code may define a firearm as a weapon, but a firearm is just another tool and may not be any more intimidating than a butcher knife or axe or baseball bat. While such a definition may be appropriate in some situations, because quite clearly a gun can be used as a weapon, it is nevertheless unreasonable to automatically assume that a violent crime committed in household with a gun is “firearms related.”
An example shows the absurdity of the Statistics Canada definition. If two people get into a dispute where one punches the other hard enough for the police to be called, it becomes a “firearms-related” crime if an old Lee Enfield is found in the basement. For all anyone knows the firearm may have been stored there and forgotten for years. The old rifle might only have been found by the police after a thorough search during a later investigation, but it still could be included as “present during the commission of the crime.” For legal reasons, the definition of “crime scene” isn’t restricted. Still, it is excessive for Statistics Canada to decide that, because the victim could conceivably have imagined the firearm to be threatening, the crime automatically becomes “firearms-related.”
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Back in the 1990s, the RCMP criticized the Department of Justice for exaggerating the gun crime statistics in a way similar to what StatsCan is doing. Unfortunately, the RCMP has now decided to join the abusers of stats and invent their own bogus numbers.