It should not surprise many people that Canada’s gun laws have not worked (More Gun Control Isn’t The Answer, John R. Lott Jr., June 15). Anyone living in a big Canadian city has witnessed the horrifying increase in violent crime over the past decade.
Canada’s violent crime rate is now higher than in the United States. Our burglary and assault rates are particularly frightening, and illegal handguns are increasingly misused in our largest cities.
This is the result of the Liberal government’s failure to punish violent criminals and instead to criminalize hunters and target shooters if they fail to get a licence and to register their shotguns and rifles.
Nor do gun laws work any better in Great Britain or Australia. In a recent study for the Fraser Institute, I showed that gun laws in those countries have failed to stop increases in violent crime and homicides.
In contrast, violent crime and homicide rates are plummeting in the United States. Violent crime is dropping even faster in those states that allow citizens to carry concealed handguns.
When is Ottawa going to get serious about stopping violent criminals?
There are several problems with Mauser’s letter.
Above is a graph of the “horrifying increase in violent crime over the past decade” in Canada. If you compare the violent crime rate now with that of ten years ago, you’ll see that it has actually gone down. There has been no increase, let alone a “horrifying” one. And guess where this graph comes from? His own Fraser Institute Study.. He even refers to it in his letter.
And look at the graph in Mauser’s paper immediately before the one showing violent crime rates. In his letter Mauser writes “in contrast violent crime and homicide rates are plummeting in the United States”. But his own graph shows that homicide rates are dropping in Canada in parallel with those in the US.
Mauser also claims that “Canada’s violent crime rate is now higher than in the United States”. What he fails to mention that the “violent crime rate” in the Canadian statistics includes simple assaults but in the US statistics it only includes aggravated assaults. The graph above (from here) shows that the robbery and aggravated assault rates are actually lower in Canada. Moreover, Mauser is well aware of this since in his study he refers to this very graph (it’s from Gannon (2001)) when he writes:
“The comparison here shows the official statistics from both countries. Gannon (2001) constructs indices of violent crime that are more directly comparable. In her analysis, the trends in violent crime in the two countries resemble each other more closely, but her data also show that violent crime in Canada is increasing while it is decreasing in the United States.”
The graph clearly shows that robberies are decreasing in Canada. Mauser seems to consistently call decreases increases when it suits his argument.
His references to violent crime and homicide increases in Great Britain and Australia are also incorrect. Violent crime in England has decreased significantly since their gun ban. The number of violent crimes recorded by police has increased because of increased reporting and changes in recording practices. Mauser reports the police figures to try to make it look as if violent crime has increased even though the more accurate British Crime Survey figures show that it decreased. And he his well aware of what the BCS shows a decrease since he mentions it but buries it in an endnote and does not admit its significance. As for Australia, his own graph shows that homicide has decreased, but as usual he calls it an increase.
In his study he also claims:
Professor [sic] John Lott has shown how violent crime has fallen faster in those states that have introduced concealed carry laws than in the rest of the United States.
Of course, my readers will be well aware that Ayres and Donohue’s more comprehensive study has shown that crime has actually tended to fall faster in the states without carry laws, and that Lott’s results go away when his coding errors are corrected. Mauser is well aware of Ayres and Donohue’s work—we discussed it at great length in 2002 and 2003 on the firearmsregprof list, a mail list that Mauser is on, and yet he does not mention their work at all. In fact he doesn’t cite any critics of Lott at all.
Oh, and guess who is a Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute, the think tank that drafted Mauser’s study: Our old friend Ross McKitrick.