Paging Captain Obvious…
by Tristin Hopper
Criminal record checks, 28-day waiting periods, the long-gun registry: none has done anything to stem Canadian firearm homicide rates, according to a new study by an emergency-medicine academic.
“No significant beneficial associations between firearms legislation and homicide or spousal homicide rates were found,” reads the abstract on the study, written by Caillin Langmann, a resident in the division of emergency medicine at McMaster University, and himself a vocal foe of gun control measures who has argued instead for enhanced social programs to combat the causes of gun violence.
To be published in an upcoming issue of the peer reviewed Journal of Interpersonal Violence, the study took historical statistics on Canadian firearm homicides and compared them to three key pieces of Canadian firearms legislation.
The three pieces of legislation were the 1995 long-gun registry, a 1977 bill that imposed a requirement for criminal records checks and a 1991 bill that imposed mandatory safety training and a 28-day waiting period on firearms purchases.
Canada’s firearm homicide rate has been in free fall since the 1970s. In 1974, 273 Canadians were murdered with a gun. In 2008, despite having a higher population, guns killed 200 Canadians. Even in the past 15 years, homicides by rifle have dropped by 50% and firearm homicides against women have dropped 30% – as opposed to a 16% decline in general female murders.
But Mr. Langmann’s study attributes Canada’s drop in gun crimes to a richer, older population – rather than any particular piece of gun control. “If people are poorer and there’s less income equality, those are more likely to be associated with an increase in homicides by firearm,” said Mr. Langmann.
His analysis factored in other variables “associated with criminality,” such as unemployment, incarceration rates, income equality and the population attributed to immigration. The study also factored in the rate of non-firearms homicide rates and allowed multi-year delays for firearms legislation to take effect.
The team then ran the data through three methods of statistical analysis including Joinpoint, a software program often used to probe the success of cancer interventions.
All three methods of analysis, wrote Mr. Langmann, “failed to definitively demonstrate an association between firearms legislation and homicide between 1974 and 2008.”
“We have the same numbers … and we’ve found the opposite,” said Amelie Baillargeon, communications coordinator for the Coalition for Gun Control.
A Université de Montrèal study published January in the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Justice similarly examined Canadian firearms homicide rates since 1974. The study also factored in external influences such as immigrant populations, the proportion of young men between the ages of 15 and 24 and the per capita consumption of beer. That study, however, found that Canadian gun legislation was responsible for 5% to 10% drops in firearms homicides.
Notably, Mr. Langmann’s study also does not cover suicide, which accounts for nearly three-quarters of all firearms related deaths in Canada. Last year, a Quebec Institute of Health study also using Joinpoint analysis found that male suicide rates declined notably following the introduction of firearms legislation.
Ms. Baillargeon also noted Mr. Langmann’s history of advocating against gun legislation. In 2010, he took a stand against a Canadian Association of Emergency Room Physicians resolution in support of the registry. “The gun registry has hurt and killed people,” wrote Mr. Langmann in a widely circulated May 2010 letter.
Mr. Langmann’s Facebook page also notes his membership in the online groups for the National Rifle Association and “Against the Gun Registry.”
The precise effects of firearms legislation can be difficult to quantify. For instance, studies to examine whether Bill C-51, requiring a criminal records check, had any effect on suicides have produced wildly different results. Early studies showed no effect. A 1993 study from the New Jersey-based Centre for the Study of Suicide found that “restricting easy access to lethal methods of suicide may assist in reducing suicide.” A study from Toronto, meanwhile, found that in the wake of C-51 suicidal individuals had found other, non-firearm ways of killing themselves.
STOPPING THE BULLETS
Since the 1970s, Canadian rates of firearm homicides have been on the decline. Gun control advocates credit the reduction to tighter legislation, but a new study from McMaster University physician Caillin Langmann asserts that the reduction is due solely to demographic changes.
Original web source: National Post