Sunday, December 23, 2012

Canada's gun laws

There are many on the more control side of the gun debate that like to point out that Canada has a lower murder rate, and claim that the difference is due to the strict gun laws of our northern neighbors. Comparing the US crime rates to Canada is an apples and oranges comparison.

The entire nation of Canada has a population that is smaller than the state of California, yet Canada's population is spread over an area that is roughly the same as that of the entire United States. That results in a population density that is much lower than the United States. (Canada has a population density of 9.7 people per square mile, the US 79 people per square mile.) This is evidenced by the fact that Canada only has 3 cities with a population over 2 million people.

Even so, violent crime rates (per 100,000 population) between Canada  and the US will surprise you. The violent crime rate in Canada is 1282  per 100,000. The violent crime rate in the US is 386 per 100,000.
The murder rate in Canada is lower overall, until you exclude the large urban areas from the US statistics, and compare the areas of the US with similar population density areas of Canada. Exclude US cities with a population of over 3 million, and in this apples to apples comparison, the US actually has a lower murder rate than does Canada.

I believe that this indicates that we have a problem with culture in  our large cities more than it indicates a gun problem, being that our suburban and rural communities have a higher rate of firearms ownership than do the cities. At any rate, the scientific method dictates that in examining and comparing different data sets, one must eliminate all variables, except the one that is being compared. For that reason, a straight comparison of the US murder rate and the murder rate of any other country is not a valid comparison.

FBI Uniform crime report:
Canada Crime report:


Jeff Cover said...

When you claim that the violent crime rate is greater in Canada, you did not mention that your statistic only counts reported crimes, and that the vast majority of Canada's reported violent crimes are minor assaults.

You also fail to mention that the Canadian population is not evenly spread across all of our territory, and that the majority of Canadians live in areas with population densities comparable to the US.

You did mention the homicide rate being lower in Canada. That's true, 4.7 versus 1.78 per 100,000. But you failed to mention that the US outnumbers Canada in gun-related deaths by 2:1, and gun-related homicides by more than 4:1.


Divemedic said...

Of course I only include crimes that were reported. How can anyone include crimes that weren't reported? It is rather obtuse to suggest that I should include crimes that were not reported.
The term "gun related death" is a red herring. If your goal is to reduce murder, then it shouldn't matter if they were shot by a gun, hit over the head with a rock, or pitched out of a window. A murder is a murder.
As to population density, the largest Canadian city is smaller than the 30 largest US cities. Incidentally, the majority of US murders occur in those 30 largest cities.
I don't care that "minor assaults" are the majority of Canada's violent crime, as the same is also true of the US. What matters is that the same methodology is used in comparing both nations. That is what I did here: and the fact is that guns have little impact on violent crime or murder rates, but I guess that doesn't fit the anti gun narrative.

Jeff Cover said...

First of all, I wasn't suggesting that you should include unreported crimes, but when you use a statistic that says that Canada has nearly four times the amount of violent crime than the US, but fail to mention that the US has twice the amount of murders and almost fifteen times the rapes.
The population of our country does not have anything to do with our population DENSITY. That was your argument, that Canada does not have the population DENSITY that the US has. This is incorrect. The majority of Canadians live in densities comparable to the US. It does not matter that our most populous city would only be number 31 in the US because we're talking about density.
And no, using gun-related violence is not a "red herring" when you are having an argument about gun violence.

The numbers are still not in your favour.

Divemedic said...

I am not arguing about gun violence, I am arguing about violence and the way to prevent it. Simply outlawing guns does not stop violence, it merely means that the murderers use other weapons, like rocks, feet, or knives.
Show me where the population density of Vancouver is the same as the population density of Chicago or Detroit.
The FACT is that the majority of murders in the US take place in the dense cities. Remove those cities, and the rates of homicide between the two nations are similar.
Montreal is Canada's second largest city. It has a population of 1.6 million, and encompasses 1,644 square miles, resulting in a population density of 973 people per square mile. That is less than half the density of Ketchican, Alaska.
Vancouver has a density of 13,000 per square mile, which puts it on par with Maryland in terms of density.
Toronto is Canada's largest city in terms of population, and it has a population density of 22,000 per square mile. This is the only city in Canada with a density approaching that of the US, and it still doesn't come close to the density of Union City, New jersey, where density is 53,000 per square mile.

Jeff Cover said...

To begin, I disagree that you are not arguing about gun control. I'd change my tune if you can show me any situation where someone has inflicted mass casualties with knives, rocks or feet.

Moving on, I'm not sure where you're getting your numbers from.

First, Vancouver has a population density of about 13,000 per square mile. Detroit has about 6,000 and Chicago's density is about 12,000. That makes Vancouver more densely populated than both.

Second, the population density of Montreal is more than 11,000 people per square mile, not 973.

And as for Union City, NJ, you are correct. It does have an incredibly high population density. It is the second most dense city in the entire country. It is also a residential area of the New York City metropolis, and not a representative example of the population density in the United States.

My point is that your claim that violent crime is directly related to population density is not true. For example, the population density of Toronto is about 11,000 (not 22,000). This is well below New York City, but well above the five most violent cities in the United States: Detroit (5,142), St. Louis (4,805), Memphis (2,325), Oakland (7,004), and Baltimore (7,672).

Divemedic said...

For mass murder:

Here is an expansion on the point about urbanization and homicide rates: