Given recent tragic events south of the border, the issues of gun ownership and legislation have been on the minds of Canadians more than usual over the last month. While Canada is generally seen as safer than the United States on the subject of gun crime, what are legal firearm ownership and gun crime rates like within Canada?
The above map displays gun crime rates (per 100,000 population) for provinces, territories and selected cities. Green indicates lower rates of crimes committed with guns, while red translates to a higher gun crime rate. The patterns overlaid on top indicate the number of licences per capita issued by the Canadian Firearms Program – the denser the dots, the greater proportion of the population with a gun licence.
What does this map show us? Across the country, there generally isn’t a strong direct correlation between gun licensing and gun crime, except in the territories, where high licensing rates (presumably associated with hunting) are seen alongside gun crime rates much higher than those in the south. The prairies also see somewhat higher gun licences and higher gun crimes per capita than Canada’s most populous regions (namely Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia).
That said, these statistics don’t differentiate between crimes committed with legal versus illegal weapons; those who acquire illegal weapons are unlikely to have a legal permit to fire them. This map also betrays the assumption that gun crime rates are higher in cities – in general, they’re the same or lower than rural areas.
We’re left with some burning questions: with a gun crime rate many times higher than the surrounding area, just what’s going on in Brantford, ON? And why the higher rates of gun crime in St. John’s, NL? Halifax, NS? Saskatoon, SK?