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Firearms: A Net Benefit to Canadian Society

Particularly in times of rare shooting tragedies, anti gun activists seize on the emotion of the moment to advance their agendas to ban guns. These special interests groups present themselves as social-engineering elitists who feel empowered to tell the vast majority of freedom-loving people how they should live their lives.

Banning firearms would cost many thousands of lives annually.

As many as 7 million law-abiding Canadians use a reported 21 million firearms (RCMP) to pursue their recreational shooting lifestyles and their cultural hunting heritage. Responsible gun owners enjoy the freedom to use firearms for recreational target shooting, hunting, trap shooting, skeet shooting, Olympic competitions, protection against animals, protection against criminals, biathlon competitions, collecting, pistol competitions, rifle competitions, defence of country, and for security jobs. They value firearms that have been passed on from generation to generation as their treasured inheritances. They take great pride in safety programs that have led to a steady decline in gun accidents over the past 40 years. Because gun owners are the safest citizens in Canada, insurance companies make money granting them $5 million of primary liability insurance for only $3.35.

The shooting sports contribute $6 billion, 35,000 jobs and 35,000 taxpayers annually to the Canadian economy.

Through license fees, hunters finance Canada’s conservation and environmental programs. Millions of gun owners donate their money, time and energy to preserve the environment and diminishing wetlands. In times of financial cutbacks, gun owners willingly act as the eyes and ears of conservation officers in the field by identifying poachers and violators of wildlife laws. Hunters participate co-operatively in research studies that ensure the survival of many wildlife species. Banning firearms would utterly destroy these wonderful benefits to society.

The Canadian reality is that firearms are used 64,000 times a year for self-protection against criminals and animals (Mauser and Buckner, 1997). This fact is further reinforced by the Ministry of Justice document Self Defence in Canada which states firearms are used 32,000 times a year for self-protection from criminal activity. The resulting impact is that 3,300 lives are saved every year and a safer Canada. If we remove suicides, which are generally considered to be non preventable, approximately 40 lives are saved for every life lost with a firearm in Canada.

Consider that 44% of rural Canadian households own firearms compared to 11% in cities yet the violent crime rate in Canadian cities is 40% higher than in rural areas.

The best scientific evidence demonstrates that the civilian ownership of guns deters both violent crime and mass killings (Lott, 1998). Using extensive FBI statistics for all 50 states and 3,054 counties over 18 years, University of Chicago Law Professor John Lott concluded in More Guns Mean Less Crime, in states where gun availability was higher, crime rates were significantly lower. For every life lost with a firearm in the United States, Suter reported similar results to Canada, with 65-75 lives saved. For non-gun owners, an umbrella of safety and protection is provided by those who own guns. This is particularly potent, if criminals have no idea where the guns are.

How do guns save lives? 

What is the phenomenon at work here? Wright and Rossi (1994) found that where there were high levels of civilian gun ownership, criminals feared an armed homeowner more than the police. Since police are subject to severe restrictions in using firearms, there was reluctance to use them. However, criminals specifically avoided burglarizing houses when citizens were at home because they were afraid of getting shot. Consequently, they headed for safer pastures, such as stealing cars. However, if criminals were guaranteed that all civilians were undefended, open season would be declared on citizens, their families and their private property. If guns were banned from Canadian cities, this country would become less safe.

Banning firearms will not reduce suicide, gun accidents or domestic violence. Where gun bans were implemented in Wales, England, New Zealand, Australia New York City, Washington, D.C., Detroit and Chicago, crime rates soared. Criminals simply move into the undefended vacuum and bless politicians for their ignorance of firearms issues.

There is no compelling statistical evidence that gun control laws reduce violent crime or that legal firearms ownership and violence are related. More specifically, current research indicates that restrictive Canadian gun legislation since 1977 has had no impact on violent crime, despite its enormous costs.

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