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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Friday, October 3, 2003

Gun homicide rate in Canada drops to lowest ever.

Magpie was going to blog about this, but xymphora's got it covered:

In 2002, Canada had 149 homicides committed by gun (the firearm homicide rate has been falling for the last thirty years). The United States, with approximately ten times the population of Canada, has over 10,000 homicides committed by gun each year (despite the fact that gun deaths and gun homicides have been dropping significantly in the United States over the last ten years). Canada exists in exactly the same atmosphere of violent American popular culture as Americans do, and is statistically similar to the United States in most measures of health. It appears that the massive discrepancy exists because of the amount of gun ownership, and in particular the much greater number of handguns in the United States. I know there has been a tremendous effort in the United States, funded by gun companies and their lobbyists, to attempt to prove that gun ownership somehow makes people safer, but the huge difference between the Canadian and American experience is impossible to surmount with tricks with statistics (it gets even worse if you think about suicide and accidental deaths). This isn't necessarily an argument for legal restrictions on gun ownership, but it is clear that the price for unrestricted gun ownership will be a significant number of human lives.

The new Canadian figures made Magpie remember a 1980s study of violent crimes in Seattle and Vancouver. The two cities were (and are) about the same size, located about 120 miles apart on opposite sides of the Canada-US border. Basically, the two cities are about as similar as any pair you could find in either country. Rather than try to remember the findings ourselves, we went and found an abstract for the journal article reporting the study's results.

Handgun Regulations, Crime, Assaults, and Homicide: A Tale of Two Cities, John Henry Sloan, MD, MPH; Arthur L. Kellermann, MD, MPH; et al, The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 319, No. 19, November 10, 1988, pp. 1256-1262.

Key Statistics: Although similar to Seattle, Washington in many ways, Vancouver, British Columbia has adopted a more restrictive approach to the regulation of handguns. In this study, the annual rate of assault was only modestly higher in Seattle than Vancouver, but the rate of assault involving firearms was seven times higher in Seattle. The risk of death from homicide was found to be significantly higher in Seattle than in Vancouver. Virtually all of this excess risk was explained by a nearly five-fold higher risk of being murdered with a handgun in Seattle as compared with Vancouver. Rates of homicide involving means other than guns were not found to be substantially different in the two cities.

This study examined robberies, burglaries, assaults, and homicides in Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia, from 1980 through 1986 to determine the associations between handgun regulations, assault and other crimes, and homicide. This study found that restrictions on handgun access may reduce the rate of homicide in a community.


Basically, the study said that if guns are more easily available, the homicide rate will be higher. The city that had the higher handgun ownership rate and the less restrictive gun laws—Seattle—had more assaults involving guns and more gun-related homicides than Vancouver—the city with restrictive gun laws and fewer handguns in the possession of its residents.

Of course, the gun lobby has been attacking the conclusions and methodology of this study for years, trying to prove that it didn't prove any link between gun, gun laws, and homicides. They're undoubtedly getting ready to 'prove' that the continuing decrease in gun-related homicides in Canada has nothing to do with its gun laws, either.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:34 AM | Get permalink




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