BUT DID OUR GUN LAWS ACTUALLY SAVE ANY LIVES?
By Garry Breitkreuz, MP, Conservative Firearms Critic – June 30, 2005
Statistics Canada issued a “health report” this week that left the false impression that there was a link between the Liberals’ $2 billion firearms program and the decline in gun deaths. Statistics Canada should be embarrassed putting out a report that is so misleading in the way the data was presented. If bureaucrats were subject to peer-review, like academics, they would never get away with such a distortion.
The first page of the report, “DEATH INVOLVING FIREARMS” (Health Report, Vol. 16, No. 4) by Kathryn Wilkins (see link to full document below) starts with the following statement: “In 2002, 816 Canadians died from firearms-related injuries (see Gun control laws).” Beside the first paragraph, the report includes a graph depicting a decline in firearms deaths between 1979 and 2002 with vertical lines showing the years firearm laws were passed in 1991 and 1995. The graph itself isn’t even an honest representation of the facts. While “Bill C-68 (Compulsory gun registration)” was passed by Parliament in 1995, the Firearms Act didn’t come into force until December 1, 1998, and the deadline for law-abiding gun owners to register their firearms was extended by the government to July 2003 – a full year-and-a-half after the cut-off year covered by the Statistics Canada report.
On the fourth page, an important caveat was buried at the bottom of a panel entitled: “Gun control laws” states: “Of course, it is difficult to measure the contribution that gun control regulations may have made to this decrease.”
If Statistics Canada can’t measure it, then why present the data in such a way that suggests that there is a connection? This report is closer to Liberal propaganda than the truth.
REPORT MISSING MANY FIREARMS FACTS
First of all, the report itself states: “four-fifths of the firearms-related deaths were suicides.” BUT the report failed to mention that the drop in suicides by firearm has been almost completely replaced by an increase in suicides by rope. So no lives were saved despite the waste of two billion dollars on regulating legal guns owned by law-abiding citizens since 1995. Why isn’t the government studying the causes of suicide instead of the methods people are using to kill themselves? Why aren’t they putting the money into suicide prevention instead of a useless gun registry?
Secondly, the report also states: “The rate of homicides involving firearms fell” but then added in the next paragraph, “…handguns accounted for two-thirds of firearm homicides in 2002, up from one-half in the 1990s.” BUT the report failed to mention that the mandatory registration of handguns has been required since 1934 in Canada. This is a clear demonstration of a firearms policy failure that Statistics Canada should be making obvious to the Canadian people instead of obscuring the truth in a report like this one.
Thirdly, the Statistics Canada report presents another misleading graph on the fifth page comparing firearms deaths in Canada and the United States. BUT as Professor Gary Mauser of Simon Fraser University points out, the report fails to mention that since 1991 the total homicide rate has declined by 36% in Canada, but fell by 42% in the U.S. Moreover, gun death rates fell by 30% in the U.S. between 1991 and 2002. This, despite the fact, that gun availability has been increasing in the U.S. and decreasing in Canada.
Finally, the report also failed to mention that in 2003, Statistics Canada’s own data show the homicide rate in the three Prairie Provinces was 1.1 times higher than the homicide rate in the four bordering states. So much for the effectiveness of Canada’s firearms regulations.
Statistics Canada would be wise to take all the politics out of its reports. If it doesn’t, soon the only government agency left with any credibility for reporting the truth will be the Office of the Auditor General.
June 28, 2005 - STATISTICS
CANADA: Health Reports - Volume 16, Number 4
is the Official Opposition’s Associate Justice Critic on Firearms