NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 23, 2005

The rate of "gun deaths" in Canada has recently declined, but it is time to stop using the term "gun death" since its meaning is distracting, says Gary Mauser of the Simon Fraser University.

"Gun death" is a pot pourri of suicides, homicides and accidents; the supposed link is that these deaths share a common cause: a gun was accessible, but the mere availability of guns does not make ordinary people commit murder, or suicide or have accidents, says Mauser.

According to researchers:

  • Suicide is associated with mental illness, substance abuse, depression and family violence, but not with the typical gun owner.
  • Shooting oneself is not a popular method of suicide; it is the third most frequent method after hanging and poisoning oneself.
  • Guns are involved in about one out of six suicides (18 percent) in Canada.
  • Over the past decade in Canada, hanging has increased in popularity, almost doubling in frequency since 1995.

If reduced access to guns is indeed responsible for the decline in suicides involving firearms, it has not saved any lives since people still manage to find ways to commit suicide, says Mauser.

Source: Gary Mauser, "Suicides and the 'Gun Deaths' Fraud," Fraser Forum, September 2005.


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