The Old Canadian Argument for Gun Control

I grow tired of seeing Canadian crime rates presented as evidence for the effectiveness of gun control, such as in the LA times article from yesterday. I meant to address this, but it was one of those things that took more time to put together than I had. International comparisons are always going to be suspect, because of the different ways that different countries count and categorize crimes. However, since the other side is fond of these comparisons, we can’t just summarily dismiss it. It seems reasonable to me that we should do as much as possible to compare like populations, and contain our variables to just the differing law as much as possible. It seems reasonable in this case to compare American states with their nearest Canadian providence in that regard. For this I will use statistics from the FBI, as well as some Canadian statistics.

Canadian Province Violent Crime Rate Murder Rate Bordering States Violent Crime Rate Murder Rate
New Brunswick 256 0.4 Maine 118 2.4
Nova Scotia 307 1.3
Quebec 298 1.2
Vermont 136 2.7
New Hampshire 157 1.0
Ontario 277 1.4 New York 398 4.3
Michigan 502 5.4
Manitoba 629 4.5 Minnesota 263 2.1
Saskatchewan 671 3.0 North Dakota 167 0.5
Alberta 389 3.1 Montana 258 2.4
British Columbia 407 2.7 Washington 331 2.9
Yukon 722 9.1 Alaska 652 4.1

Rates here are per 100,000, and I tried my best to make the Canadian and American violent crime statistics use the same types of crimes. You will notice on the Canadian stats, there is a “Violent Crime” stat which is way way higher than any US state, because the Canadian government counts many crimes as violent that we do not. But the Canadian government lists statistics for crimes which are very similar to what the FBI uses. I also did not include Ohio, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, even though they technically share a border with Canada, because it’s a lake border, and our respective peoples would not reasonably travel without transiting through another state/province. Nova Scotia is counted because there’s ferry service from Maine.

When you break them down like that, it looks pretty different, eh? What conclusions can be drawn? For one, the US states that compare least favorably to their nearby Canadian provinces are the ones with the strictest gun laws (New York & Michigan). Interestingly, it shows that rural Western Canada, which has a stronger gun culture than the east, shows an opposite pattern from the US, with higher violent crime rates and murder rates. Yukon and Alaska are both more violent than average, probably due to the fact that the industries in these respective jurisdictions tend to attract young males, who are more prone to criminal activity.

Overall, Ontario compares favorably to New York and Michigan. But most of the other states have lower violent crime rates and murder rates to their respective Canadian provinces. Whatever conclusions you might want to draw from the numbers, I don’t think that gun control laws is a major factor here can be among them.

9 Responses to “The Old Canadian Argument for Gun Control”

  1. Timmeehh says:

    I used to live in Vancouver BC and we always made the comparison between Vancouver and Seattle, because they were so similar geographically.

    However, Seattle had CCW and very liberal gun ownership laws, while Vancouver had typical Canadian prohibitions and restrictions.

    Most years there is no significant difference in violent crime and murder rates between those two cities.

    I don’t know how crime is doing in Seattle lately, but it is increasing dramatically in Vancouver.

    One more thing, the murders that took place on the Robert Pickton farm are usually not included in the greater Vancouver crime figures, because they were not discovered until many years after the fact in most cases. If those 49+ murders were included, the Vancouver figures would be much worse than Seattle.

  2. Justin Buist says:

    “… the Canadian government counts many crimes as violent that we do not.”

    High sticking, for instance.

  3. Pete says:

    Wow, way to go Michigan. Keeping up our image.

    Remember that we have Detroit, Flint, and Sagniaw here in Michigan. Those places are an anomaly in and of themselves. Rapid industrial decay, poverty, and black vs. white tensions. Full of idiots shooting and robbing each other.

    Ontario has Windsor across the river which can be just as nasty in some parts, although the population is much smaller. Those are four bad cities within a short drive from each other.

  4. Andy says:

    The thing about using murder rate is that there typically isn’t any breakout for murder by gun as opposed to other methods (strangulation, etc).

    Are there any gun ownership/CCW statistics available for these same regions for comparison?

  5. bombloader says:

    I don’t think its necessary to break out murders by method. In fact, it’s the kind of thing anti-gunners like to pull because apparently in their bizzaro world it’s much better if 100 people a year get stabbed to death than if 100 people get shot to death.

  6. Sebastian says:

    Well, there’s no CCW in Canada. North Dakota has a very high rate of CCW licensees. IIRC, one of the highest in the country. Vermont does not issue licenses, but also does not require them. Montana also largely does not require licenses, except to carry in cities and then only concealed, I believe. Washington State has a high number, as does New York, believe it or not, since they aren’t impossible to get outside of New York City.

  7. Ronnie says:

    I was in the Canadian city of Toronto for a while back in 2005. Toronto had had over 50 shootings that year as I understood it, and the mayor, David Miller, was extremely anti-gun – we’re talking on the same level as Bloomberg.

    Basically, after every shooting, David Miller would use it to publicly whine about the firearms freedoms in the USA and bash George W. Bush. He also later on got the one and only legal pistol range in his city of Toronto shut down, but as far as I know, there still are crimes being committed with guns in Toronto now.

  8. karrde says:

    Weird thing about Michigan and gun-control:

    it’s laws are almost bi-polar.

    There are no State restrictions (that I am aware of) on the purchase of long guns.

    I live in Michigan, and have purchased several long guns in FFL stores. In both cases, it was a process of (1) select gun, (2) fill out ATF form, (3) pay, (4) walk out of store with firearm.

    On the other hand, for purchasing a pistol, the average resident must (1) get a Permit to Purchase from a police office, (2) take Permit to FFL store, (3) select item, (4) fill out ATF form, (5) pay, (6) mail in form for Safety Certificate, (7) get Safety Certificate in mail.

    Formerly, the purchaser had to take the new pistol to a local police state after step (5), and wait for them to (6a) Safety Inspect it, (6b) fill out a form, and (6c) send the purchaser back with their new Safety Certificate.

    It’s bipolar, and it doesn’t do much about firearms-murder (mostly with pistols), generally associated with gang activity in the large cities.

  9. Mike Krainc says:

    Statistics are interesting to say the least. We have stricter laws pertaining to firearms now, and guess what?, we still have as much crime as ever before. We still have law enforcement officers being shot and killed. The fact is, we live in a violent world. People are looking for solutions, but the unfortunate fact is that it is humanly impossible to to come up with a solution that works. To do away with violence done with firearms, you have to do away with every firearm in the world, and that is a task that can not be done without divine intervention.If anti gun advocates think they can make a difference with stricter laws, they live in a word of fantasy.