the Logo For the Liberal Gunfarce Homepage
Judith A. Ross, Ph.D.
Fax 416 922-5854
April 27, 1995
The Clerk of the Standing Committee
of Justice and Legal Affairs
The Wellington Building #622
House of Commons
Re: Bill C-68 & Ontario Arms Collectors Association
Submission to the Committee on Bill C-68
You have probably received from a group called Coalition for Gun
Control a document entitled "Myths and Facts on Gun Control".
This is a self serving document consisting of misinformation,
distortions of truth, and misleading statistics. This document
lists several so-called "myths" about gun control and then
proceeds to argue against them as though these "myths" were the
only or the most significant arguments against further gun
control legislation. The document attempts to refute these
"myths" by referring to what it labels as "facts". These so-
called "facts" are then supported by reference to various source-
s, often obscure, frequently biased as they are written by
individuals with the same political agenda as the Coalition for
Gun Control, and often derived from different jurisdictions which
cannot properly be compared with Canada. These "facts" are a
wonderful example of how to deceive with statistics.
The "Myths and Facts" document is hardly an attempt to provide
neutral information which is based on solid evidence, yet the
format of "myth" vs. "fact" with accompanying references is
designed to suggest an intellectual, academic approach.
In the hope that Members of Parliament will not be deceived by
this catchy bit of propaganda, I would like to review the 9
"myths" and "facts" and point out just a few of the problems with
the misinformation that the Coalition for Gun Control has sent to
you. I do possess academic credentials which provide me with the
expertise to analyze misleading statistics, faulty research, and
fatuous arguments in that I have been a professor of psychology
at the University of Toronto for over twenty years. I have taught
numerous courses in which I have instructed students in this very
It is a lot easier to write a few brief and misleading statements
and present them in an eye catching format than it is to provide
a careful refutation of those statements. I urge you, if you have
been in any way influenced or positively impressed by the mat-
erial from the Coalition for Gun Control (CGC), to please make
the effort to read this admittedly lengthy rebuttal in its
entirety. (It is possible that you have not recently received
this particular document from the CGC as they may have prepared
new material. The main point which I wish to make remains the
same; that is that this group of political lobbyists cannot be
trusted to provide accurate and truthful information.)
I will discuss each "myth" in the order in which it was written
in the original document and include some commentary on other
statements made by the CGC.
1. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
This is a bumper sticker slogan and is certainly not the major
argument presented by those who are opposed to further gun
control legislation directed at law-abiding individuals. The
"fact" which alleges that gunshot wounds are more deadly than
wounds from other weapons is questionable and, in addition, is
not terribly relevant . The truth is that a significant number
of homicides result from weapons other than firearms; knives and
bare hands, to mention just two. These are items which are
readily available and access to which cannot be controlled by
The Danish study (2) which the CGC reports differs greatly from
the findings of a number of American studies which find that
rather than being 15 times more lethal, gun shot wounds range
from 1 1/2 to 5 times more lethal than knife wounds. Further-
more, one problem with such studies is that they usually combine
all types of gunshot wounds with all types of knife wounds and do
not consider the differences between different types of guns and
knives; for example, the differences between the wounds inflicted
by a .22 and a hunting knife would be small compared to the
greater differences in lethality between a hunting rifle and a
pocket knife. (3) In this regard, it is interesting to note that
standard hunting ammunition produces a more lethal wound than
does the ammunition for the so-called "assault" rifles which are
a target of further gun control legislation.
With regard to the statement about the accessibility of guns,
this is an untested assumption which would, in any case, reflect
only the legal availability of guns if it were true. It is worth
noting that the source is a journal called Pediatrics which is
hardly likely to be particulary knowledgeable or unbiased in this
respect. (4) There is a considerable body of evidence which will
be referred to further on in this letter which indicates that
reducing the legal availability of firearms through gun control
legislation does not reduce homicide.
The assertion about motivation to murder (5) is similarly an
unproven assertion which in this case is derived from the writ-
ings of a psychiatrist, another unlikely source of hard evidence.
These references from articles written by physicians are examples
of politically oriented research which is conducted by individu-
als who are misusing their expertise and medical credentials in
order to promote a personal view. An excellent critique of
several of these articles which are used as references by the CGC
is contained in an article by Suter (37) which states that "Errors
of fact, design, and interpretation abound in the medical litera-
ture on guns and violence. The peer review process has failed to
prevent publication of the errors of politicized, results-ori-
2. "Gun control legislation does not reduce gun violence."
The "fact" that is presented to argue this point asserts that gun
control saves lives. This is blatantly untrue. Experts in this
area have acknowledged that they have no evidence as to the
effectiveness of gun control in reducing firearms crime. (6)
The document then reports that there was a decrease of firearms
related crime following the 1978 gun control legislation. This
is absolutely untrue and would seem to be a misinterpretation of
the statistics which show a random variation from one year to the
next both before and after the 1978 legislation. Furthermore,
there are reputable studies which report very different findings.
A recent article in the Canadian Journal of Criminology (6) states
"The evidence suggests that the 1977 legislation has had little
perceptible impact in any of the aforementioned areas" (violent
crime, suicide, and accidental death).
There is, in fact, a considerable body of evidence (7,8,9,10) indi-
cating that there is no relationship between gun laws of any type
and violent crime of any type.
The "Myths and Facts" document then proceeds to make a meaning-
less comparison between homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver.
(11) Such a comparison totally ignores the important sociological
differences between these cities which, although geographically
not far apart, are in different countries and have major demogr-
aphic and social differences.
In a similar way, the document goes on to refer to comparisons of
crime statistics and gun control legislation in several U.S.
cities. (12) This is not only an unsuitable basis for drawing
conclusions about the Canadian situation but there is likely to
be other bias related to the method of statistical analysis. For
example, the U.S. has many urban centers and if one were to
choose carefully it would not be too difficult to find seven
centers and data for several years which would support any
hypothesis, which is precisely what was done by the authors of
this study. If one needed further evidence of the meaningless-
ness of this piece of research, one might also consider that the
data on which it is based is over twenty years old.
A much more recent study (13) compared Canadian and American
border cities (Winnipeg with Minneapolis and St. Paul and Duluth
with Thunder Bay) and found that the gun use in various offenses
(homicide, assault, robbery) were similar in Duluth and Thunder
Bay, even possibly a bit higher in the Canadian city, with
overall violent crime substantially higher there.
The Mundt study also found that Canadian small towns and American
small towns had very similar homicide rates, but that the real
distinction was that, in the U.S., as city size increased,
homicide rates dramatically rose, while in Canada, as city size
increased, homicide rates rose fractionally. One significance of
this, in terms of evaluating the impact of firearms acces-
sibility, is that the larger the city, in the U.S., the lower the
level of gun ownership. Fewer guns is associated with more
homicide. The clear conclusion is that there is something about
urbanization in America which is associated with higher levels of
homicide. For further information along these lines, a very
recent article (38) in the prestigious magazine "The Atlantic
Monthly" has some very worthwhile and thought provoking insights.
One point made in this article is that gun control laws "can
never stem the flow of guns and they divert attention from the
roots of our crime problem". The author, Daniel D. Polsby, goes
on to make an interesting and convincing argument for the idea
that gun control laws "must either be ineffectual or in the long
term actually provoke more violence and crime".
A study by Centerwall (14) looked at American states and Canadian
provinces bordering them and found that while gun ownership
levels were higher in the American states, with the exception of
Detroit and New York City, the homicide rates in the American
states were about the same as the Canadian provinces they bor-
Moreover, a closer examination of the situation reveals that
prior to the 1978 legislation, Vancouver had about 24 homicides
per year, one-eighth of which involved handguns. (15) In the
Vancouver-Seattle study referred to by the CGC, the number and
percentage were about the same. (11) As this study was done ten
years after the gun control legislation, it would appear to
indicate that the law had no effect at all.
Some of the most recent and most significant information with
regard to the effects of gun control is contained in the report
of the Auditor General of Canada presented earlier this year
(1994) (39). This report indicates quite clearly that even the
gun control legislation instituted in 1978 has not been properly
evaluated so that no one could say whether or not it had any
effect. The report states "It is essential to know whether the
gun control program is effective." It goes on to indicate that
the new regulations were drafted without knowledge of the effect-
iveness of the old regulations. The Auditor General's report
adds, "if firearms could be easily smuggled into the country, the
objectives of the gun control program would be undermined". As
we know from recent police studies (40) there is a major problem
of firearms being smuggled into Canada. In Project Gunrunner
which was conducted early in 1994 by the police departments of
Toronto and several surrounding municipalities, it was found that
over 85% of the guns used in criminal activity have been smuggled
into this country from the United States. The Auditor General's
message is quite relevant here. The Canadian government seems to
want to persist in passing further "gun control" legislation
without properly evaluating past legislation and in the face of a
serious smuggling problem which clearly renders such legislation
3. "Motor vehicles are more lethal than guns."
This is a meaningless comparison. What possible difference can
it make which is more lethal or which is more regulated or more
highly taxed? The only important thing is that both cars and
guns be used legally and safely. In addition, the "facts"
presented are debatable; to indicate the number of motor vehicle
deaths for a particular year says nothing about serious and
incapacitating injuries which often occur in motor vehicle
accidents. Furthermore, to say motor vehicles are more regulated
is absolutely and blatantly untrue. (In some of their other
material the CGC makes the absurd claim that dog licenses are
regulated more than firearms! It is clear that they lack credib-
ility.) Besides, what difference does it make? The focus on
lethality is nonsensical. If lethality were such a significant
issue, we would ban all smoking which certainly kills more people
in Canada than either guns or cars and then only after incurring
staggering health care costs.
While this "myth" has little relevance to anything it is worth
looking at some of the details provided because they reflect the
way in which the CGC has misled with half truths. For example,
the term "per-use basis" is undefined and leaves the choice of
data wide open to manipulation so that it can support whatever
point one wishes to make. The statistic reporting numbers of
"motor vehicle occupants" who died would definitely lead to
understating the number of deaths as about one quarter of motor
vehicle related deaths involve individuals who were not occupants
of the vehicle, such as pedestrians and cyclists. The point
about motor vehicles being more highly regulated and taxed than
guns is curious in that these regulations and taxes do not seem
to have created a safe situation in view of the number of deaths
caused by motor vehicles. The CGC makes many statements which
are irrelevant to the issue of gun control.
This section includes a footnoted statement as to the percentage
of Canadians who hunt. This has absolutely no relevance to the
rest of this section but it does provide another opportunity for
the CGC to attempt to appear scholarly by including a reference.
If it is included in an attempt to suggest that few Canadians are
involved in the shooting sports then it is extremely misleading
as hunting is by no means the only recreational use for firearms.
However, it is interesting to note that such a large number of
Canadian residents and tourists enjoy hunting in Canada that the
revenue from this activity is considerable. For example, in
Ontario alone in the 1992-93 season, according to the Ontario
Ministry of Natural Resources,(41) the revenue to the province for
hunting licenses amounted to well over 15 million dollars. This
does not even begin to take into account additional revenue from
tourist facilities, income for guides (often Native people who
depend on this source of income), etc. The fact is that hunting
brings a great deal of money into Canada and a very large part of
it goes directly to the government as it is payment for hunting
4. "What is needed is crime control, not gun control."
This is presented as a myth but it is absolutely true, extremely
important, and at the heart of this entire issue. The alleged
"fact" that easy access to guns contributes to crime totally
ignores the actual fact that criminals have easy access to guns
through illegal channels and that all the gun control legislation
which is aimed at law abiding gun owners will do nothing what-
soever to change this. The recreational shooting community has
been asking for a long time for gun control legislation that
addresses the issue of crime by dealing with the smuggling of
illegal firearms into Canada and by providing penalties for using
firearms in the commission of a crime. Bill C-17 failed totally
to address the issue of criminal use of firearms. One might
reasonably wonder why the now almost defunct Conservative party
should have ignored the issue of crime control.
The claim that easy access to guns contributes to crime is also
not supported by the evidence. Various studies in the U.S. which
are summarized by Kleck (16) indicate that there is no relation-
ship between general gun availability and violent crime. A study
by Killias (17) compares the availability of firearms in different
countries with the percent of homicides involving firearms and
concludes that availability of firearms is unrelated to their use
The "facts" presented here are extremely misleading and are, in
some instances, untrue. For example, to state that "most homi-
cides are committed with firearms" and then to indicate "33%" for
the year 1987 is contradictory. Simple arithmetic must lead to
the opposite statement. That is, if 33% of homicides are com-
mitted with firearms then 67% of homicides must be committed by
other means; therefore, the majority of homicides are clearly
committed with weapons other than firearms.
The document goes on to state that 61% of those homicides in
Canada committed with firearms involve hunting rifles and shot-
guns while handguns account for only 30%. If this is true, then
why is the CGC so interested in banning handguns and so-called
Another extremely misleading statement claims that "in family
murders, shooting is the single most common cause of death". The
operative word in this statement is "single" and its use creates
a totally false impression. In actual fact, 37% of domestic
homicides involve firearms (1); therefore, 63% of domestic homi-
cides do not involve firearms. However, the other causes of
death are each individually responsible for fewer than 37% of the
deaths; hence the use of the word "single". The truth then is
that by far the majority of domestic homicides are committed with
weapons other than firearms. In this regard, it is interesting
to note a recent newspaper column by Michele Landsberg (18) which
indicates the wide range of weapons used in domestic violence.
The absence of firearms is striking; of the 19 women who were
victims of domestic homicide, only 1 was killed with a firearm!
(Ms. Landsberg is, by the way, a supporter of the CGC and yet,
when she presented factual evidence rather than her usual rheto-
ric, this was the result.)
(In some of its more recent statements, the CGC has made the even
more extreme claim that half of domestic homicides involve
firearms. This is not true. There is no evidence whatsoever for
It is also interesting to note that during the 14 year period
from 1974 to 1987, the use of firearms to commit domestic homi-
cide fluctuated, with the gun control legislation of 1978 having
no apparent effect. On the other hand, stabbing as a method of
domestic homicide increased from 13% to 30% (1).
It is also important to note that there is a significant factor
in domestic homicides of the race of the victim and the suspect.
If one truly wishes to understand this phenomenon, one cannot
avoid considering the fact that "Native people are vastly over-
represented in homicide offences in general, and in family
related homicide, relative to their representation in the Cana-
dian population. While Native people make up approximately 3% of
the total population, they accounted for 19% of the suspects and
15% of the victims in all homicide offences over the 1974-1987
period, and 23% of suspects and 22% of victims in homicides
involving family members." (1). As far as the likelihood of this
situation being in any way changed by further gun control legis-
lation, it should be noted that homicides committed by Natives
using firearms generally involve hunting rifles or shotguns as
the weapon. It is highly unlikely that any legislation will
remove hunting rifles or shotguns from Native people.
Clearly there are social factors which far out-weigh the issue of
firearms and it is terribly simplistic and wrong to focus on
firearms as a significant factor in domestic violence.
One last but extremely important point with regard to crime and
firearms is contained in a report recently released by the
Canadian government. (19) This report provides compelling evi-
dence of the declining use of firearms in criminal activity. In
this examination of the violent crime rate in Canada between 1975
and 1989 it was revealed that during this period the violent
crime rate increased by 59% from 597 to 948 incidents per 100,000
population. However, during this same period, the firearm
homicide rate in Canada declined 38% from 1.3 to 0.8 per 100,000
population and the firearm robbery rate declined 36% from 39 to
25 per 100,000 population. As reported by the Ottawa Citizen (20)
what this means is that "Canadians have become more prone to beat
up, stab, or rape but less likely to shoot each other." This
government report is surprising and important because it clearly
disproves the assumptions generally made by the media about
"increasing" use of firearms in crime.
5. "People need guns for protection."
Again a statement is made with the false implication that it is
an argument being promoted by those who oppose further gun
control legislation directed at law-abiding gun owners. This has
absolutely nothing to do with the arguments made by recreational
shooters, collectors, and hunters. While there is a right to
protect and defend oneself in Canada, the shooting community has
many more salient arguments against more meaningless legislation
directed at them rather than at criminal use of firearms.
The stated "fact" that a home is safer without a gun is untrue.
Although a reference is provided, based on American figures,
which purports to show that a loaded firearm in the home is six
times more likely to cause an accidental death than to kill an
intruder, this probably has more to do with the unlikelihood of
it being used to deal with an intruder than anything else. Even
more to the point is the fact that this study (21) was biased in
that it counted accidental deaths wherever they occurred but self
protection homicides were counted only if they occurred in the
home. Moreover, this statistic is extremely misleading as it
deals with killing an intruder. In those instances where a
firearm may be used for self protection, the home owner is
usually not interested in actually killing the intruder and the
intruder is likely to rapidly leave the premises. The result
would be successful self protection and no deaths. A study by
Kleck (22) did show that the use of firearms for protection red-
uced the likelihood that the crime would be completed and that
the victim would be injured. Moreover, as Suter (37) points out,
the studies which claim to show the dangers of guns in the home
have used discredited methodology and have been incredibly
biased. For example, in one of these studies (42,43) the sample of
homes containing firearms was not representative in that it had
an exceptionally high incidence of socially dysfunctional and
unstable families. This does not reflect the situation of the
average Canadian family with legally owned firearms.
It would be totally unwarranted to draw any conclusions about
firearms being unsafe in the home from the studies cited, or
indeed, from any properly conducted study. In addition, the
experience in countries like Switzerland and Israel where every
home contains a firearm is that there is no problem of accidents
or misuse of these firearms.
6. "The risk associated with guns does not justify further
inconvenience for legitimate gun owners."
Although this is stated in a way which trivializes the issue, it
is true that many suggestions which have been made by the govern-
ment for future legislation such as the banning of handguns and
semi-automatic rifles (erroneously referred to by the government
and the media as "assault" rifles), registration of all firearms,
central depositories, banning firearms in the cities, etc. would
have an extremely negative effect on the law-abiding shooting
community and that there would be absolutely no offsetting
benefit to public safety which might justify this.
The "fact" refers to "a minority's inconvenience". The minority
is actually a rather large one in that a recent Reid poll (23)
revealed that 1 out of 4 Canadian households contains firearms.
We are talking about a minority of about 6 million people (44).
The "inconvenience" is considerable; these aspects of the pro-
posed legislation would bring about the confiscation of millions
of dollars of private property; it would render otherwise law
abiding individuals criminal either because they did not surr-
ender their property or because they failed to comply with
expensive and meaningless registration requirements; it would
destroy the recreation and leisure activities that mean a great
deal to many people. It is hardly adequate to describe this as
Moreover, the "facts" presented in an attempt to document the
cost to society of private ownership of firearms actually provide
a very good argument against further gun control, that is, if one
is concerned with creating effective and meaningful laws. First
of all, reporting the numbers of deaths related to the misuse of
firearms is very different from proving that gun control legis-
lation would prevent these deaths. The CGC seems to presume that
there is such a connection; they certainly provide no evidence
for it. As I have indicated elsewhere in this letter, the 1978
legislation certainly did not bring about a reduction in the
homicide or suicide rate.
An examination of the figures cited by the CGC (24) provides one
of the finest illustrations of the lack of clear thinking of this
lobby group. For example, they indicate that the total number of
deaths by firearms for the year 1987 is 1432. Of these, 1126
were suicides. This means that over 75% of the deaths by fire-
arms were suicides! There were only 193 homicides using firearms
which is 14% of the deaths by firearms. This is an extremely
small number in a country with Canada's population, so small that
it hardly justifies the passage of new legislation.
Moreover, some information the CGC failed to provide indicates
that for 1987, the year they selected, firearms accounted for
1423 deaths (not 1432 as the CGC reported; the minor differences
in numbers are caused by the CGC using crime statistics while the
figures used here include all homicides regardless of whether
criminal charges were laid; these small differences do not affect
the point being made). (25) These deaths include not only homicide
but also suicide, accidents, legal intervention or police shoot-
ings, and other causes. The CGC has neglected to compare this
with 12,786 other externally caused deaths for that year. This
comparison indicates that firearms accounted for only 10.01% of
the externally caused deaths. If we eliminate suicide, firearms
accounted for only 2.11% of all externally caused deaths. If we
consider only homicides (using the number reported by Statistics
Canada as 187 rather than the 193 used by the CGC) (25) it can be
seen that firearms accounted for only 1.32% of externally caused
An examination of the homicides in Toronto in 1990 reveals that
of 55 homicides, only 9 or 16.4% were committed with firearms
while 86% were committed by other methods such as stabbing,
beating, and strangulation.(26)
With regard to the statistics on robberies committed with fire-
arms, if one compares the years 1974, which is prior to the 1978
legislation, and 1988 one will see that the numbers of robberies
with firearms are almost identical. (19) This is not an impres-
sive argument for the beneficial effect of gun control legis-
A proper examination of the statistics clearly indicates that
firearms are not the major factor in homicide or in externally
caused deaths. One can only assume that media coverage has blown
this issue all out of proportion and that groups like the CGC
fail to appreciate that suicides account for an overwhelming
percentage (75%) of deaths by firearms.
The suicides that were committed with firearms are, of course,
lamentable, but one must question the passage of legislation
which would primarily be aimed at preventing suicide, particular-
ly when a large percentage of suicides are committed in other
ways (27) and when it is extremely unlikely that anyone intent on
suicide would not find some other way to do it if a firearm were
not available. This is a very important statistic, the meaning
of which has been totally lost on the Coalition for Gun Control.
The crux of their argument for further gun control is that
significant deaths would be prevented by the passage of such
legislation. However, the statistics which they themselves
present clearly indicate that this is not so! Are the enormous
losses of property and other rights of recreational shooters,
hunters, and firearms collectors and the enormous expense to
government which the enforcement of this legislation will require
really aimed at making suicide more difficult for a very small
percentage of the population who will do it anyway? This situa-
tion is incredibly absurd!
7. "If people who intend to commit suicide do not have access to
guns, they will find other means."
Once again, what is presented as a "myth" is in reality a fact
and the "fact" that guns make suicides easier to attempt and to
complete is not supported by evidence. It has long been known by
those in the mental health professions that male suicides tend to
choose faster methods which cannot be interrupted, such as
firearms, but this is not the case for females. (28) Guns may be
the preferred method for some male suicides. Even so, they are
certainly not the only method and not necessarily the most
popular method. (27) It is well known by most residents of major
cities with subways that suicides in the subway are very common.
This is not publicized because of concerns that publicity may
encourage further suicides. It is, however, such a common
occurrence that body bags are routinely stored at one Toronto
subway station which is located near a large psychiatric hos-
pital. Most users of the Toronto transit system know that when
there is a delay on the subway it is because someone has jumped
in front of a train. As long as there are subways, tall build-
ings, and bridges, it is absurd to suggest that people will be
less likely to suicide because they do not have a firearm.
Moreover, while the prevention of suicide is an admirable goal it
is one which is more appropriately addressed by means other than
further and otherwise unnecessary gun control legislation. Those
interested in the prevention of suicide should interest themsel-
ves in social factors, the health care system, and the school
system for a start. In this regard, it is important to note that
there is good evidence that more restrictive gun control legis-
lation does not lower the suicide rate. One study (29) found that
the suicide rate in Toronto did not change after the 1978 legis-
lation; there was a change for a few years in the popularity of
different methods of suicide with an increase in jumping but one
can only speculate as to the reasons for this, it did not con-
tinue, and it did not affect the overall rate. Other studies
(6,30) found that after the adoption of Bill C-51 the suicide rate
in Canada increased. Clearly there are causes of suicide which
are not affected by gun control legislation.
The important point here is the question of whether ease of
access to a given method affects the incidence of suicide rather
than simply the proportion of suicides who use one method in
preference to another. The answer to this is provided by the
above mentioned studies and by a major work on suicide which
states: "A critical examination of mortality statistics therefore
supports the notion that when intending suicides are deprived of
access to a means of committing the act, they return to other
methods, so that measures taken to limit availability ... are
unlikely to lower incidence or contribute substantially to
suicide prevention." (31)
Another "fact" in this section compares suicide rates in a
particular county in Washington with Vancouver. In addition to
all that has been said above, such a comparison is meaningless.
Despite the fact that the state of Washington and the province of
Vancouver are located in approximately the same area of the
world, different social factors exist on different sides of the
American-Canadian border so that it is the ultimate in tunnel
vision to assume that differences in gun control are a relevant
Once again, although the Seattle-Vancouver comparison is meaning-
less it is interesting to examine it further as it points out the
dishonesty in the way the CGC has approached the statistics. In
fact, the overall suicide rate in Vancouver was higher than the
rate in Seattle. In order to make their point, the CGC had to
search for some way that they could manipulate the statistics to
fit their bias. They came up with the figures for the 15-24 year
old group. It is particularly interesting to note that not only
have they distorted the data but they have also, inadvertently,
provided a good argument against their goal of more restrictive
gun legislation. When you consider the 15-24 age group, for some
of the people in this group Canadian gun laws are more restric-
tive than the American laws; in the U.S. you must be 18 to
purchase a long gun rather than 16 (as it was in Canada at the
time this study was done; it has since been raised to 18) and for
a handgun you must be 21 rather than 18 as in Canada. They have
selected the only age group where Canadian law was more lenient
and in that group the problem of firearm misuse was greater in
8. "The current legislation is adequate."
One source of information on the views of Canadians as to the
adequacy of the current legislation (prior to the passage of Bill
C-17 in 1991) was provided by a Gallup poll (32) conducted in
September, 1991. A question was asked about what issues should
be addressed in new gun control legislation. The results ind-
icated that an overwhelming majority of Canadians (89%) favored
measures such as severe penalties for crimes involving guns,
tighter screening of new gun buyers, etc. in clear preference to
the option of increasing restrictions over present gun owners.
Only 8% of the respondents favored that option! The Canadian
people have expressed their clear opposition to much of what was
contained in Bill C-17. Now that bill is law and even more
restrictive legislation is being proposed by the Government.
In their document the CGC quotes an Angus Reid poll (33) as the
source for the "fact" that 80% of Canadians do not consider the
current legislation adequate. A more careful examination of the
results of this poll indicates that a very large percentage
(almost 40%) of the respondents felt that tougher penalties for
the misuse of firearms was preferable to further restrictions on
the ability to purchase a firearm. The report also indicated that
support for further gun control increased after the Montreal
murders but it must be realized that gun control became a knee
jerk "Mom and apple pie" issue for a while after that tragedy.
The reality of that incident with regard to some aspects of
further gun control legislation is that the coroner's report
concluded that the particular type of firearm and its magazine
capacity was irrelevant to the number of deaths and that the poor
response of the police was the primary factor here. (34)
One aspect of the Reid poll had to do with the desirability of
more thorough checks for a Firearms Acquisition Certificate and
an increase in age before receiving the FAC. Probably most
firearms owners would agree that this was the only worthwhile
aspect of Bill C-17.
The issue of public opinion polls is interesting to consider.
The CGC often refers to polls which they claim indicate that
Canadians want gun control and they use this as an argument for
further gun control legislation. But it is obvious that the way
in which a question in a poll is posed has a great influence on
the answer which is obtained. For example, probably the vast
majority of the recreational shooting community (people who
oppose further irresponsible gun control) would reply in the
affirmative if asked simply if they think there should be gun
control; that is, they believe that there should be some gun
control and that we already have more than enough. Although
they would not support further gun control, this is the false
conclusion which the Coalition draws from this sort of misleading
survey. This is exactly the result which was obtained by
Concordia University Professor of Sociology H. Taylor Buckner
(45). The Administration of Concordia University presented to
Parliament a petition demanding the prohibition of private
ownership of handguns in Canada. What Professor Buckner found in
his survey of students at Concordia was that those who signed the
petition were seriously misinformed as to the gun control laws
already existing in Canada; when informed about the present law
they felt it was sufficient and they indicated that they would as
readily have signed a petition asking for the present law. So
much for polls indicating that further legislation is needed!
With regard to the other "facts" presented by the Coalition for
Gun Control, it should be noted that all the statements about ac-
quisition, screening, FACs, etc. merely describe a situation.
They do not demonstrate that there is any problem with that
situation. Nevertheless, because of the implied criticism, I
will address each of the situations raised:
-Acquisition: What possible difference doess it make that one can
acquire more than one firearm with one FAC? If an individual has
been approved for one firearm, that approval means that in the
opinion of the police, that person is not a risk to society. If
that individual possesses further firearms he is not any more
likely to become a risk. With regard to criminal activity, it is
rather difficult if not impossible to operate more than one
firearm at a time anyway. More to the point, there are no
significant crimes committed by individuals who have acquired
their firearms legally so what difference does it make how many
they own through one FAC?
-Screening: This is the one reasonable poiint in this entire
document. However, to have more effective screening need not mean
that further legislation is needed. If the existing legislation
were enforced properly most people would be satisfied. With a
fuller computer check of an applicant's background much relevant
information would be available. In this way, Marc Lepine who had
been rejected by the Canadian Army because he was found to be
antisocial would have been denied a permit. Most of the shooting
community would agree that the age of 16 without parental consent
is too young to purchase a firearm, however, it is worth noting
that there has been no indication that there has been any par-
ticular problem with young people who acquire an FAC. In any
event, this situation has now been changed so that the minimum
age for an FAC is 18.
- Number of individuals refused an FAC: TThe relatively low
number of people refused is irrelevant. Most people would not
apply for an FAC if they knew that there were reasons why they
might be refused. Moreover, the reference to RCMP statistics is
reported in a misleading way in that many more refusals occur on
a local level but the RCMP figures only reflect those individuals
who appealed their refusals to the RCMP. The comparison with the
percent of individuals who fail driving tests is also ridiculous;
almost everyone is convinced he is capable of driving and there
are bound to be more failures. Similarly the comparison with the
renewal every few years of drivers licenses is also absurd. The
renewal of the drivers license is done primarily in order to
collect revenue and there is no new testing required of the
person's ability to drive unless they have reached an advanced
age. Besides which, the FAC must also be renewed every 5 years.
It is of some interest to note that the Coalition for Gun Control
does not mention that the RCMP has the ability not only to refuse
permits but also to revoke them and that they do revoke some
permits in the interest of safety. (35)
-Number of stolen firearms: The figures onn the number of fire-
arms stolen is grossly misleading. The number of 52,986 from
1974-1989 totally ignores the fact that in 1974 when these
statistics were first being gathered it was decided by the RCMP
statistician not to start counting from 0 but to begin with an
estimate of how many firearms had been stolen up until that time
from the time that some records began to be kept. The number of
30,000 was selected.(36) Therefore, the total number of firearms
stolen since 1974 is actually 30,000 fewer than reported and the
yearly average is substantially less than reported in this biased
document. In addition, some stolen firearms are recovered (4053
in the year 1989) (35) and reduce the number of stolen firearms
Any discussion of stolen firearms must include the new regu-
lations for safe storage that have been in effect only since
January, 1993. It must be expected that with the clearer and
more stringent storage requirements which now exist, the number
of stolen firearms will decrease significantly.
9. "The gun control lobby is a group of well-intentioned but
This is a totally self serving statement without any basis in
fact. The actual myth is that there is such a thing as a gun
lobby at all. Canada does not have firearms manufacturers and
related industries such as exist in the United States where these
groups do assist in financing lobbying efforts by the shooting
community. The reality in this country is that a number of well
informed and concerned individuals who want to protect their
legal activities, their property, and their recreational outlets
are contacting their Members of Parliament and organizing rallies
in order to express their concerns. This is very much in con-
trast to the Coalition for Gun Control which is an aggressive and
well funded professional lobby group. The informational material
prepared by shooting organizations such as the Ontario Handgun
Organization is factual and accurate. This is also very much in
contrast to the blatantly biased misinformation which is dist-
ributed by the CGC such as the "Myths and Facts" document which
we have been discussing. The "experts" to whom the CGC refers
and their other supporters are also for the most part groups and
individuals with understandable concerns about crime and violence
who have not thought through the issues in a clear manner.
Surely the Canadian Medical Association, the National Association
of Women and the Law, and the Quebec Hospitals Association cannot
be considered experts on gun control. Indeed, it would seem that
many of the "experts" referred to by the CGC are in fact the
"well-intentioned but misinformed people".
The Campbell government's Bill C-17 did not deal with legitimate
concerns about crime and violence as it only addressed the non-
existent problem of law abiding citizens who own firearms. The
Special Committee on Bill C-80 saw things more clearly when they
recommended an emphasis on smuggling of firearms into Canada and
stronger penalties for criminal use of firearms without scapegoa-
ting and unnecessarily penalizing the law abiding shooting
community. The legislation which the current government is now
talking about introducing does seem to include crime control
measures and these are welcomed by the legitimate shooting
It is interesting to note that there is nothing in the CGC
material which would indicate that lawful gun owners were par-
ticularly involved in any of the activities where firearms were
misused, such as homicide and other criminal activity. There is
also nothing to indicate that their wishes for changes in admin-
istrative matters such as the cost of the FAC, the number of guns
per FAC, renewal of the FAC, etc. actually relate to any
problems. With their relish of statistics, one can be certain
that if they had any to provide on these matters they most
certainly would have been included.
I trust that if you have had the patience to read this far you
now agree with me that the Coalition for Gun Control has at-
tempted to influence you with misinformation, distortions, and
irrelevancies in their document of "myths" and "facts". Even
more to the point, there is nothing in their material which would
justify a ban on handguns or "assault" rifles, registration of
all firearms, central depositories, prohibition of firearms from
urban areas or any of the other possible prohibitions which have
been suggested might be in future legislation. There is nothing
in this anti-firearm material which actually would justify such
It is important to realize that we already have very strict gun
control in Canada. I urge you to resist pressures to pass
further unnecessary and irresponsible "gun control" legislation
which would be horribly damaging to law-abiding recreational
shooters and would offer absolutely no offsetting benefits to
public safety. I urge you instead to pass responsible crime
control legislation which deals with crimes of violence whether
committed with a firearm, knife, baseball bat, bare hands, etc.
I urge you to insist on the laying of charges under Section 85 of
the Criminal Code which allows for mandatory penalties for the
use of a firearm in the commission of a crime. I urge you to -
call for a crackdown on the smuggling of firearms into Canada. I
know that it takes courage to resist political pressure groups,
media manipulation, and simplistic solutions but I hope that the
information which I have attempted to provide will be helpful to
I thank you for your attention to this rather long letter.
Judith Ross, Ph.D.
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JUDITH ROSS, Ph.D. - QUALIFICATIONS.
Date of birth October 29, 1938.
Ph.D. in clinical psychology 1966.
Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto 1971 to 1993.
Psychologist, Psychiatric Service, University of Toronto, 1967 to
Handgun shooter from 1981 to present.
Director of Hart House Revolver Club, University of Toronto from
1982 to present.
Recipient of Vincent Gaudino Memorial award, Hart House, University
of Toronto, March, 1993.
Chair and Vice-Chair Hart House Revolver Club, University of
Toronto from 1985 to present.
Member Sharon Gun Club from 1982 to present.
Newsletter Editor, Sharon Gun Club from 1986 to present.
Club level handgun safety instructor from 1982 to present.
Club level practical pistol instructor from 1989 to present.
Qualified practical pistol shooter from 1983 to present.
Qualified practical rifle shooter from 1989 to present.
Qualified practical shotgun shooter from 1989 to present.
Competitive bullseye pistol shooter in Metro Toronto Pistol League
from 1983 to present.
Competitive practical pistol shooter from 1983 to present.
Competitive practical rifle shooter from 1989 to present.
Competitive practical shotgun shooter from 1989 to present.
Second lady in Ontario Practical Pistol League 1989.
Second Canadian lady Canadian National Practical Pistol Champion-
Alternate on Canadian Ladies team, World Practical Pistol Champion-
ships, Bisley, England, September, 1993.
Studio guest Ed Needham radio program February 1989, subject, women
Official spokesperson IPSC Ontario from August, 1993 to December
Official spokesperson CPSA Ontario from January 1, 1995 to the
Speaker on behalf of Ontario Handgun Association at rally at
Justice Minister's constituency offices, August, 1994.
Speaker on behalf of the Ontario Handgun Association and IPSC
Ontario at rally at Parliament Hill, September, 1994.
Represented the Ontario Handgun Association and IPSC Ontario at
various town council meetings and meetings of other organizations
such as Metro Toronto Police Services Board and other Metro Toronto
committees from 1992 to the present.
Various interviews and appearances on radio and television programs
(CBC, CTV, City TV) representing the shooting community 1992 to the