Gun Control – Dogma or Red Herring?

Comparative homicide rates US and CanadaDespite Canadian gun restrictions, homicide rates fell more in the US than in Canada since 1991

Gun Control – Leftist Dogma or Red Herring? A commonly heard boast is that Canadians are safer than Americans as a result of our more restrictive approach to firearms. Government policy assumes that restricting civilian access to guns saves lives and reduces criminal violence. And for advocates of gun control, cracking down on guns just feels right, regardless of the facts. Fortunately, such dogmas are easy to deflate.

Despite claiming that the current firearms regime is “evidence based,” the government has not made public any studies that support its effectiveness. In fact, there is no convincing evidence that the general availability of firearms stimulates or encourages criminal violence. Every home has many objects, such as hammers, poisons, or kitchen knives that are available for use in assault or murder if residents are so inclined. Peer reviewed scientific research challenges the orthodoxy that restricting law-abiding citizens’ access to firearms improves public safety. For more information check out other posts on my website, including Professor Caillin Langmann and my testimonies to Parliament, plus relevant research. See recent articles in the Dorchester Review.

Homicide rates peaked in 1991 in both the United States and Canada. Since then, the US homicide rate fell faster than did Canada’s, despite Canada’s increasingly restrictive gun laws. By 2014 Canada’s homicide rate had fallen 44% from the peak in 1991 (from 2.69 to 1.48), while the US homicide rate had fallen 55% in the same period (from 9.8 to 4.4).

The two countries’ firearms policies are starkly different. Canada banned over half of all handguns in 1995, introduced owner licencing in 2001, and mandated a long-gun registry from 2003 to 2012. In contrast, the United States progressively relaxed gun restrictions in order to enable law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns. By 2022, over 22 million Americans (over 8%) were legally permitted to carry a concealed handgun.

In order to allow readers to see how public policy decisions influenced changes in the homicide rates, the 1991 homicide rate is set at 1.0 for both countries. Thus, the graph shows relative changes and ignores absolute differences in homicide rates. Historically, due to demographic differences, the United States has long been much more violent (both firearm and non-firearm violence) than Canada. Thanks to the growth of “catch and release” bail policies, homicide rates have increased in both countries since they bottomed out in 2013/2014.

Canadian gun legislation has a dirty secret. Hiding behind government pronouncements about protecting the public from violent crime is often an unstated fear of recent immigrants, though the specific group depends upon the era.

Canadian gun laws in the 19th century were in part driven by concerns about Irish canal workers and Métis uprisings. Starting early in the 20th century, additional restrictions on firearms were sparked by immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, and later by immigrants from Asia.

The Winnipeg Strike of 1919 and similar events around the world sparked fears about Communists and anarchists in the 1920s and 1930s. Handgun registration in the 1930s was prompted by gangsters during Prohibition in the United States and by labour unrest (including concerns about unruly Scottish agitators). Unsurprisingly, illegal handguns remain the most frequently used type of firearm in homicide even in the 21st century. The Second World War brought in universal firearm registration as well as confiscation of firearms from Oriental immigrants (including Chinese) before interning Japanese Canadians, though these restrictions were eased after the war.

The ostensible justification for introducing new gun laws has typically been violent crime in major cities, especially Toronto and Montreal. But the government often privately had other concerns, sometimes unrelated to firearms at all. Bill C-51, passed in 1977, was arguably enacted to distract public attention from, and to persuade MPs to support, the government’s proposal to abolish capital punishment.

In 1995 Jean Chrétien was said to have stressed the strategic importance of the Liberals staking out more restrictive firearms controls policies than the Progressive Conservatives. The Liberals were concerned that the Progressive Conservatives would steal the urban women’s anti-gun vote having introduced Bill C-17 in 1991. Firearms legislation is more about vote-getting than public safety.

Focusing on guns rather than violent criminals lets Ottawa pose as a protector of public safety while maintaining “progressive” police and court policies. Such a strategy allows the government to court leftist activist groups and avoid charges of overt racism. Continual campaigns that push ever more restrictions on guns allow the Liberals to reassure their urban supporters who are anxious about high immigration rates. Unfortunately, immigrant and indigenous communities suffer disproportionately from the failure of gun laws to reduce criminal violence.

Finally, gun laws serve as a red herring, diverting attention from the unending scandals that embarrass the government. The current round of firearms restrictions is likely intended to divert attention from the Liberal government’s failure to successfully handle the Covid-19 pandemic and its unnecessary imposition of the Emergencies Act. The so-called “crisis” in Ottawa was deliberately provoked by Justin Trudeau. The Emergencies Act is a scandal itself: it upended Canadian civil liberties, even prompting raids on private bank accounts. And now the most recent scandal of Communist China’s election meddling. Not to mention the continual high-level governmental chaos, such as the WE charity scandal, and the outrageous mismanagement by former RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki.

4 Comments on "Gun Control – Dogma or Red Herring?"

  1. I can`t believe that most of my fellow Canadians are that stupid, (I`m sorry to say?) that they actually think banning firearms will STOP the shootings in our city streets????
    Criminals won`t follow laws??? Only us law abiding firearms owners will and do. We are the worlds most vetted; and controlled! Group! It’s time to get rid of this Corrupt and Criminal Lying liberal, NDP, Bloc Coalition government??? Wake up Canada, they are KILLING our great Nation! Pierre and his Conservatives, are the only ones who really want to help, Canadian taxpayers!

  2. Totally agree with Jack B. It’s not about public safety, and anyone that belives that is delusional. It’s always been about consolidating control over the population, by disarming us first. Trudeau wants his Chinese style limited dictatorship here in Canada, so thay can stuff whatever the “wokeness of the day” is down our throats, unchallenged. Also agree about the intelligence level of fellow Canadians. Until it directly affects them or their friends/families, financially or otherwise, they’re unaware that there’s an even bigger problem brewing. Canada the police state dictatorship is just around the corner, after public disarmament. For God’s sake Canada, wake up!!!

  3. The graph that Gary Mauser used in this article is completely misleading. He talks about the difference between Canada & the US when it comes to gun violence & homocide rates. But the graph he uses is ALL homocides recorded in both countries. And it is very misleading. If one looks at Homocide Rates by Firearm, the results are very different. Unfortunately, I am unable to attach the graphs as downloaded files so you will have to go to the following website to see the results:

  4. In order to allow readers to see how public policy decisions influenced changes in the homicide rates, the 1991 homicide rate is set at 1.0 for both countries. Thus, the graph shows relative changes and ignores absolute differences in homicide rates.

    The two countries’ firearms policies are starkly different. Both American and Canadian homicide rates reached a peak in 1991. Since that year Canadian homicide rates have declined 44%, as can be seen in this graph. During the same time period, American homicide rates fell 55%.

    How could Canadian gun control be seen as effective when American homicide rates have fallen faster than the Canadian? Note, Americans have relaxed concealed carry laws during this period so many more Americans are armed and defending their communities.

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