Senator Pratte stumbles

Senator Pratte belongs to the Independent Senators Group and was appointed by Justin Trudeau

Senator Pratte stumbles when he claims that:

“Over the last 10 years, 193 PAL holders were charged or suspected in homicides involving a firearm. … Contrary to the estimate produced by professor Mauser (not by Statistics Canada), licensed gun owners are more likely to be involved in firearm homicides than unlicensed firearm owners. Licensed owners represent 7% of Canada’s adult population, yet account for at least 12% of firearm homicides committed each year in Canada.”

I do not understand why Senator Pratte continues to misrepresent the results of his Special Request to Statistics Canada.

His statement contains a few elementary errors.

First, I don’t know where he got the number 193. Perhaps this includes 2017. The results from Stats Can that he shared with me shows there were 186 PAL holders who had been “Charged / suspect-chargeable,” not 193, from 2006 through 2016. Second, this time period is 11 years, not 10, as he claims. If we now include 2017, that extends the period to 12 years.

I privately corrected these mistakes when he graciously shared the data he was given by StatsCan with me a few months ago.

Senator Pratte is disingenuous when he equates “charged or suspected” with being “involved” or “account for” homicide. The police typically report 2-3 suspects per homicide victim, even when there is only one perpetrator. More importantly, not all accused are convicted. So, it cannot be true that that 186 PAL holders committed homicide over this 11 year time period.

This is a sweeping indictment of the Canadian Firearms Program.

If Senator Pratte really believed that unlicensed gun owners were less violent than PAL holders, he should oppose licensing.

Senator Pratte disparages my estimates

The Senator criticizes my estimate that licensed gun owners are less likely to be involved in firearm homicides than other Canadians. The estimate in my testimony to the Senate was based on a Special Request to Statistics Canada, just as his was. A key difference in our estimates was that StatsCan provided me with only those licensed owners who had been “accused,” not just suspected. Unsurprisingly, there are somewhat fewer “accused” than “suspects.” Senator Plett has pointed out that 42% of those who are charged with homicide are cleared, so the true count of murderers are PAL holders is much less than 186.

Senator Pratte commits another elementary error when he claims, “Licensed owners represent 7% of Canada’s adult population, yet account for at least 12% of firearm homicides committed each year in Canada.”

He is correct that 7% of the adult pop hold a PAL, but after correcting his counting errors, PAL holders are “suspected of” committing 9% of firearm homicides (using his StatsCan report), or “accused of” committing 7% of firearm homicides, using what StatsCan reported to me.

Note that 83% of PAL holders are adult males, so that the group that PAL holders are most comparable to are adult Canadian males. Just 7% of PAL holders are accused of committing homicide while adult males are accused of committing more than 80% of homicides.

 Adult PopulationAdult Male PopulationPAL holders% PAL/Adults% PAL/Adult males

StatsCan doesn’t report how many PAL holders were convicted.

It is important to keep in mind that the numbers of PAL holders either “accused” or “suspected” of homicide are exceptionally small and are based upon notoriously unreliable police reports.

As Senator Plett has pointed out, at the bottom of the spreadsheet that Senator Pratte relies upon is the warning from Statistics Canada that “data related to firearm licensing of the charged / suspect-chargeable should be interpreted with caution.”

Some basic statistics:

From 2006 through 2015, an average of 126 PAL holders were reported by the police as being “accused” (my stats) or 168 “suspected” of committing homicide (Senator Pratte’s). Out of 2 million PAL holders. There were 1,736 homicide victims where the accused used a firearm.

For more insight into Senator Pratte’s claims, please see Senator Plett’s comments or Dr. Langmann’s:

Senator Plett speaks out against the Liberal’s gun control bill

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Colleagues, I would like to speak to second reading of Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms. I think we are all well aware that this debate over gun control is a long-standing one. It has gone on for decades.

Dr. Langmann’s rebuttal:

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