NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 5, 2006

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and Toronto Mayor David Miller say that Canada's gun-crime problem is caused by weapons smuggled into Canada from the United States. Certainly this is easier than explaining to Canadians why their country's $2 billion gun registry program has failed to reduce gun crime, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

The fact is that violent crime rates in the United States have declined dramatically since 1994, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, reaching the lowest level ever recorded in 2004 in terms of crimes per 1,000 population. So if lax U.S. gun laws are causing violent crime to rise in Canada, why is it falling here?

  • Perhaps it's because during the 1990s, when countries like Canada, Britain and Australia were regulating, even banning, gun possession, the United States was going in the opposite direction.
  • Thirty-seven of the 50 states now have "right-to-carry" laws that let law-abiding citizens defend themselves against armed predators.
  • Gun-control advocates in the United States predicted an upsurge of violent crime and murder, particularly of police officers, when the assault weapons ban expired, however, it never happened.

John Lott, of the American Enterprise Institute, notes that murder has fallen faster in right-to-carry states than the national average and that states with the highest rise in gun ownership during the 1990s also had the biggest drop in violent crime.

Not all Canadians agree with the assessment of the prime minister or Toronto's mayor. John Thompson, of the Mackenzie Institute, says Canada has a gang problem, not a gun problem.

Moreover, if lax gun laws are the problem, then why is Canada's reported violent crime rate of 963 per 100,000 in 2003 more than double the U.S. rate of 475? Maybe because our law-abiding citizens can defend themselves and our criminals know it, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Canadian Whitewash," Investor's Business Daily, December 30, 2005.


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