Chris Graham: Guns, murders and Canada

bang-headerWe’re used to leading the world in a lot of things. How about this one – guns owned per 100 people.

There are 88.8 guns for every 100 people in the U.S. That rate doesn’t just lead the world; we’ve pretty much lapped everybody else. Number two is Yemen, at 54.8 guns per 100 people.

This is from a study by a Swiss group of small arms ownership worldwide.

After studying that report, and one from the United Nations looking at global murder rates, I got to thinking.

Wonder what would happen if I played around with numbers from the studies comparing murder rates, rates specific to homicides by firearms and firearms ownership, and did a compare and contrast with our neighbors to the north, Canada.

We share a long, long international border. We also share a similar language, by and large. And we share an affinity for hunting dating back to our mutual colonial days in the British Empire.

OK, here we go.

For the first bit of comparison, Canada, which loves to hunt its own wide-open spaces as much as we do ours, is nowhere near us in terms of guns per 100 people – at 30.8.

Using 2009 numbers, it’s also nowhere near where we are in terms of murder rates. There were 610 murders in Canada in 2009, or 1.8 per 100 people; there were 15,399 murders in the U.S. in 2009, or 5.0 per 100 people.

That’s murders by any means. Specific to gun murders, then, there were 173 gun murders in Canada in 2009, 0.5 per 100 people. In the U.S., there were 10,300 gun murders in 2009, or 3.3 per 100 people.

Think for a second. Notice anything when you look at the above two paragraphs?

The difference in the gun murder rate between the two countries is 2.8 per 100 people. The difference in the overall murder rate between the two is 3.2 per 100 people.

Take guns out of the equation, there were 1.3 non-gun murders per 100 Canadians in 2009, and 1.7 non-gun murders per 100 Americans in 2009.

Now consider the arguments that we hear from the gun lobby. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Clearly, from this comparison, people with guns kill people much better.

And then this one: If more people owned guns, we would all be safer.

There are almost nine guns legally in circulation for every 10 of us in circulation. And it’s much safer to be a Canadian with a third of the guns in circulation, all things considered.

So much for those arguments, then.

While it’s safer to be a Canadian, of course, it pretty much doesn’t pay to own a gun shop up there, not to mention a company that manufactures and markets guns for sale.

That’s where it pays to be an American.

That is, as long as you can also avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which these days includes the movie theater, the mall and a kindergarten classroom.



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