Update: Moose remain more deadly than PAL holders. After an exchange of emails with RangeBob, who is exceptionally perceptive, I expanded the calculations to show that, per capita, PAL holders are indeed less deadly than moose.
The correct comparison is the number of fatalities per capita:
|Annual fatalities||Base population||Fatalities per capita|
|PAL holders (2010-2020)||21.2||2,200,000||0.96|
PAL holders are neither devils nor angels; just outstanding citizens.
PAL holders remain less deadly than moose, as well as less likely to be accused of murder than other Canadians.
The Trudeau Liberals think that by demonizing hunters and sport shooters they can deflect attention from their failure to tackle actual criminal violence, and reducing penalties for committing criminal violence. Bill C-21, like Bill C-71, is based on a false premise. Canadian gun control has long targeted minorities — especially non-English minorities.
Civilian gun owners have long been law-abiding, but only recently, thanks to statistics gleaned from mandatory firearms licencing, have researchers been able to document accurately just how infrequently Canadian hunters, and sport shooters are accused of criminal violence.
My recent Special Request to Statistics Canada confirmed earlier studies that found PAL holders (i.e., gun owners who hold a Possession and Acquisition Licence) were exceptionally unlikely to be murderers, much less likely than other Canadians. This should not surprise: Firearm owners are solid “middle class” or “working class,” regular citizens. Murderers are typically aberrant people with criminal histories.
Canadian hunters and sport shooters, as all other legal firearms owners, have been screened for criminal records since 1979, and it has been illegal since 1992 for people with a violent record to own a firearm.
Not only do my recent analysis confirm the findings of an earlier Statistics Canada Special Request that I presented to the House of Commons and to the Senate, but they are consistent with a recent report Statistics Canada presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU).
What are the facts?
Licensed firearms owners rarely threaten public safety. Canadian firearms owners tend to be outstanding citizens. Professional surveys show that firearm owners are solid “working class” or “middle class,” earning above average income by holding down good jobs. Repeated Angus Reid surveys – here and here — find that firearms owners are better educated and hold down better paying jobs than Canadians who say they have never owned a firearm.
Angus Reid doesn’t emphasize these findings. In fact, they are buried deep inside the demographic tables cited at the end of these reports—here and here. Angus Reid is to be commended for including such tables. Few other pollsters are as professional. Academic surveys show that professionals, such as dentists and medical practitioners, or skilled blue-collar workers like electricians and plumbers are firearms owners.
Year-after-year Stats Can finds that firearms owners, whether they have a PAL or not, are rarely (under 1%) involved in domestic violence, even though at least one-quarter of all households in Canada have firearms. See Tables 2.3 and 3.3 in Juristat, Family Violence in Canada, 2019 for a relatively current report about the low level of firearms involvement in domestic violence.
Three independent studies find that PAL holders are unlikely to be murderers.
Study 1: A Special Request to Statistics Canada
To learn the number of PAL holders who were accused of homicide annually from 2000-2020, I submitted a Special Request to Statistics Canada. (Special Request # ORD-04914-K4B9T1). Those accused of homicide are referred to by Statistics Canada as “Charged / suspect-chargeable.” This means that, the police report they have enough information to lay a charge in connection with a criminal incident. Note, CSCs have not been convicted; some may be found innocent subsequently.
Between 2000 and 2020, the number of PAL holders accused of homicide varied from 6 to 21, averaging 12 accused [C/SC] per year out of approximately 2 million PAL holders. The number of PAL holders increased from 1,979,054 to 2,206,755 over this same time period, so the annual rate was 0.63 accused PAL holders per 100,000 PALs.
An important point of comparison is the number of fatal accidental collisions with moose. Moose were involved in 236 fatalities from 2000 to 2014, 236/15 = 15.7 per year, according to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation. Since 2014, according to the Transport Canada National Collision Database, average fatal collisions continue to be as high as 2014.
For comparison purposes the average Canadian national homicide rate was 1.78 over the 21 years from 2000 to 2020.
However, this comparison has a few problems. First, the national homicide rate is calculated for the total Canadian population, which includes children, while the PAL homicide rate is based only on adults 18 years or older. Since few children are accused of homicide this artificially reduces the national homicide rate. The adult Canadian homicide rate is 2.12 per 100,000 adults 18 year of age or older, which is considerably higher than the PAL rate.
On the other hand, comparing PAL holders to the national homicide rate is too generous to PAL holders. StatsCan only asks about firearm licence status in homicides involving firearms, so that it is not possible to know how many firearms licence holders may be accused in murder cases where firearms were not involved.
A better comparison would be to focus on firearms related homicides rather than total homicides. Firearms were involved in 34% of homicides from 2000 to 2020. The adult Canadian firearms homicide rate is 0.72 which is 14% higher than the PAL homicide rate of 0.63.
Since the lion’s share (approximately 90%) of PAL holders are male, it would also be reasonable to compare PAL holders with adult males, as they are a similar demographic group. The rate that PAL holders are accused of homicide (0.63) is much lower than the shooting homicide rate for adult Canadian males, which is 1.29 per 100,000. The rate for adult males, of course, is slightly reduced because PAL holders are included as well.
Comparing the rate PAL holders are accused of homicide with other Canadian categories for 2000-2020.
|rate per 100,000 pop|
|Accused PAL holders||0.63|
|Adult firearm homicide rate||0.72|
|Adult male firearm homicide||1.29|
|Canadian homicide rate||1.78|
|Adult homicide rate||2.12|
Source: Statistics Canada Special Request # ORD-04914-K4B9T1.
Study 2: Statistics Canada Report to SECU
A recent report by StatsCan includes data that are consistent with my recent Statistics Canada Special Request. Both show that PAL holders are less likely to be accused of murder than other Canadians.
This report is entitled: “Brief: Police-reported statistics on firearm-related crime,” by Statistics Canada’s Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics and was submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee Public Safety and National Security, February 10, 2022.
Table 4, entitled, “Number and proportion of homicide victims of firearm-related homicides, by firearm licensing status of the identified charged / suspect-chargeable1 and firearm type, 2010-2020.”
|rate per 100,000 pop|
|PAL holders CSC||1.04|
|Adult homicide rate||2.12|
|Adult male homicide rate||1.26|
Source: Table 4, Number and proportion of homicide victims of firearm-related homicides, by firearm licensing status of the identified charged / suspect-chargeable1 and firearm type, 2010-2020.
Note that what is being counted in Table 4 is not offenders, but victims. This somewhat inflates the rate for PAL holders because [unsurprisingly] there are more homicide victims than accused.
According to the StatsCan report to SECU, PAL holders are accused of homicide about half as often as other adults.
According to Statistics Canada data, PAL holders are less than half as likely to be accused of firearms-related murder than are male Canadians. The rate for adult males, of course, is slightly reduced because PAL holders are included as well.
Even the strictest comparison finds that PAL holders are less of a threat than other Canadians.
Study 3: An earlier Special Request
Both of these analyses are consistent with my earlier analysis of Statistics Canada Special Request which I presented to the appropriate committees of both the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate.
Comparing the rate PAL holders are accused of homicide with the Canadian national homicide rate (1997-2010)
|rate per 100,000 pop|
|Accused PAL holders||0.60|
|Canadian homicide rate||1.84|
According to Statistics Canada data, PAL holders are less likely to be accused of firearms-related murder than are other Canadians.
Anti-gun propaganda is widespread. Photos of guns are shown whenever gangsters are caught by the police. The Canadian government routinely claims that gun owners are intrinsically violent, smearing hunters and sport shooters as if they were violent criminals. The Liberals even resort to lying to crack down on legal handgun owners. The United Nations campaigns to disarm all civilians not just criminals. Despite denials, the UN is in effect blaming gun owners for criminal violence and insurrection. Government conflates self-reliant respectable civilians with terrorists.
The truth is that gun owners are a credit to Canada. Firearms owners are respectable citizens who contribute to society. They have an enviable track record of responsibility and contribution to society that any Canadian would be proud to share.
Firearms owners, in particular PAL holders, do not pose a threat to public safety. Best of all. Firearm owners make good parents and great husbands. It’s scurrilous that some would falsely claim that gun owners are a threat to their wives or girlfriends. There is no evidence to support such lies.