NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Canadian Gun Registration Has Little Impact on Crime

April 1, 2002

Gun control has been a fixture of American public policy debate for many years; it has a counterpart in Canada. There, the government made massive cuts in the crime fighting budget -- including freezing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police budget for a decade -- in order to create a massive bureaucracy to register the firearms of ordinary citizens.

According to Professor Gary Mauser of Simon Fraser University, the misguided effort was based on myths about gun use.

  • Less than one-third (30 percent) of Canadian homicides involve a firearm.
  • Meanwhile, between 60,000 and 80,000 Canadians report using a firearm to protect themselves, their family or their property.
  • Between 19,000 and 35,500 of the incidents involved defense against criminal violence.
  • U.S. research shows that over 95 percent of the time a gun is used in self- protection it isn't fired, but merely displayed.

One myth driving government action, Mauser argues, is that Canadian gun laws have kept citizens safe. In fact:

  • Handguns have been registered for more than 60 years, but gun crime is increasing -- especially handgun crime.
  • Since the mid-1970s, handgun homicides have increased from around 25 percent to almost 60 percent of gun homicides.
  • Since 1998, when the government started registering firearms, homicides involving firearms have also increased more than 20 percent.

Meanwhile, opponents to firearm registration include most provincial governments, all territorial governments, and many aboriginal bands. At least one quarter of all gun owners have decided not to comply.

Source: Gary A. Mauser (Simon Fraser University), "Debunking The Myths About Gun Control," Fraser Forum, March 2002, Fraser Institute.


Browse more articles on Government Issues