The Coalition for Gun Control/Pour le Controle des Armes

Guns in the News: Thursday July 30, 2009

Posted by cgccanada on July 31, 2009

1. International : Chinaview, July 30, 2009, Most handguns in Canadian gun crime trace back to U.S. : report

A new study suggests most of the guns used to commit crimes in Canada have been smuggled in from the United States. The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, found that the best available data suggests that about two-thirds of crime guns seized in Canada have their origin south of the border. It’s a situation the Americans would be unlikely to accept if it were reversed, said one of the report’s authors. “The U.S. never hesitates to draw attention to threats to its security,” said Wendy Cukier of Ryerson University, one of the report’s authors and a prominent gun control activist. “Canada seldom points to the obvious fact that lax U.S. gun laws not only result in high numbers of Americans being killed with guns, but fuel the illegal gun trade and handgun homicide in Canada, in Mexico, in the Caribbean and indeed around the world.” The study, conducted by Cukier as well as researchers in the U.S. and Great Britain, looked at the underground market between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. “It is not possible to determine with certainty the percentage of guns used in crime in Canada or Mexico that have been illegally exported from the Unites States, but there is some relevant evidence available that indicates the proportion is high,” the study says. “There are very few cases that show handguns used in crime coming from anywhere other than the USA.” In 2006, Toronto police successfully traced back 181 guns used in crimes to their original sale. The source of 120 of them was the U.S. An Ontario-wide gun tracing program found that 69 per cent of 705 guns used in 2007 in crimes in that province could be traced to the U.S. About 90 percent of those guns were either restricted or prohibited in Canada. That same year, the Canadian Firearms Program reported that of the 710 guns used by criminals it was able to trace in 2007, 54 per cent were smuggled. And last year, Canadian customs officials say they seized 514 restricted and prohibited weapons. Customs officials stop about three per cent of the traffic that flows across the border.”The patterns seem well-established,” said Cukier in an email. Most of the smuggled guns – and guns used in crime – are handguns. The majority of rifles and shotguns used in crimes originate in Canada. Criminal gangs are the recipients of most of the smuggled guns. “Illegal trafficked weapons are primarily used by criminal groups of varying degrees of organization,” the report says. Still, it’s tough to get complete data on the sources of guns used in crimes. Many crime guns aren’t recovered. Serial numbers are often erased and unrecoverable. And it’s doubly difficult to track guns from countries outside the U.S., such as China, Cukier said. Cukier said Canada should step up its efforts to fight gun-running.”Canada should be taking a lead role in international efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms,” she said. Canada has yet to ratify the UN Firearms Protocol, under which countries promise to do more to fight the illegal traffic in small arms around the world.

2. North Shore Outlook, July 29, 2009, Letters: Gun registry has made Canadians safer

There is a fly in Prof. Mauser’s unequivocally pro-gun ointment.  Study after study has not shown that almost all guns used by criminals are smuggled into Canada, as Mr. Mauser asserts.  In fact, by most accounts, 60 per cent of guns found at crime scenes are smuggled into Canada, and the remaining 40 per cent come from legal gun owners.  Of the 8,281 firearms seized nationally since November, 43 per cent were registered.  Nearly 3,000 guns are stolen annually in Canada, by definition ending up in the hands of criminals.  Furthermore, if one cares to look through Stats Canada’s Homicide in Canada 2007, one would see that there has been a decline in homicides overall, despite an increase in gang-related homicides.  Although Mr. Mauser asserts more domestic murders continue to be committed with kitchen knives than with firearms, and that somehow this is supposed to equate to a lack of success attributed to the gun registry, Stats Canada tells a vastly different story.  It shows that spousal homicide rates fell by 18 per cent, and that the victims are at equal risk of being shot or stabbed. Perhaps Mr. Mauser should check his statistics before he begins to write about them, because the statistics as they stand point to the fallacies in his arguments.  The gun registry is not only an essential tool used by police to uncover the sources of guns used in crime, but also to remove firearms from potentially dangerous individuals, as well as people with a history of domestic violence.  Without a doubt, the gun registry has made Canadians safer. Gordon Steele, Edmonton, Alberta.

3. Agence France Presse (Français), July 29, 2009, Violence au Mexique et au Canada: les armes améric

La majorité des meurtres par armes à feu qui ont lieu au Canada et au Mexique sont commis avec des armes acquises illégalement aux Etats-Unis, révèle une étude publiée mercredi dans la revue Criminology and Criminal Justice.  Les Etats-Unis sont “sans aucun doute un fournisseur majeur d’armes illégales, en particulier d’armes de poing, au Canada et au Mexique”, indiquent les auteurs, Philip Cook de Duke University (Caroline du Nord, sud-est des Etats-Unis) et Wendy Ryerson de l’université de Toronto au Canada.  “Les données disponibles montrent que la majorité des armes utilisées pour commettre des homicides au Canada proviennent des Etats-Unis”, notent les auteurs. Mais les réseaux criminels piochent tout autant dans des stocks d’armes volées à la police ou à l’armée de leurs pays respectifs.  Au Mexique, où la profusion d’armes nourrit les violences liées au trafic de drogue à la frontière avec les Etats-Unis, quelque 90% à 95% des armes sont d’origine américaine, selon cette étude qui se base sur les statistiques recueillies par les pays concernés.  Par ailleurs, les organisations criminelles mexicaines recyclent des armes américaines venues d’autres pays d’Amérique centrale, comme le Salvador, le Nicaragua et le Guatemala. Ces armes avaient été importées — illégalement ou non — des Etats-Unis tant par les gouvernements que par les groupes insurgés durant les périodes de guerre civile et de conflits larvés.  Les homicides par armes à feu ont réduit de plus de six mois l’espérance de vie moyenne des Mexicains, d’un peu plus de trois mois celle des Américains et d’un mois celle des Canadiens.  Le nombre d’homicides par armes à feu est 6,7 fois plus élevé aux Etats-Unis qu’au Canada, selon ces universitaires.

4. Physorg, July 29, 2009, US guns fuel Canada and Mexico crimes, UK gun crime remains rare

Guns smuggled from the US arm criminals in Canada and Mexico, contributing to a higher murder rate in Canada and more intense drug crime conflict near the Mexican border, according to a study published today in a special issue of Criminology and Criminal Justice, published by SAGE.  However, authors Philip J. Cook, of Duke University Durham, NC, US, Wendy Cukier Ryerson of the University of Toronto, Canada and Keith Krause from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Geneva, Switzerland highlight a dearth of empirical evidence on gun crime available to criminologists. Gun violence in North America remains the subject of considerable speculation and debate. In their paper The Illicit Firearms Trade in North America, the authors draw upon economics concepts, examining gun crime in the context of each country’s regulatory framework.  The US is undoubtedly a major supplier of illegal guns (particularly handguns) to both Canada and Mexico. But limited data hamper efforts to predict the effect of a successful crackdown on illegal firearms by US authorities, the authors suggest. Both policy makers and law enforcement would benefit from research to fill these information gaps. The data that are available show that the majority of traced handguns recovered from Canadian crime scenes originate in US. Another major source of illegal guns in Canada, and in many other countries is “leakage” from state stockpiles (police and military) through theft, corruption or other means. For instance, ‘insiders’ illegally sold over 3000 firearms recovered in crime or surrendered in amnesties to the Metropolitan Toronto Police Service.  Investigators have traced 90 to 95 percent of weapons in Mexico to the US, but how did they get there? The guns sampled may not represent the bigger picture: the figure reflects firearms submitted for tracing by Mexican authorities. Authorities recover only a fraction of firearms from crimes and gun battles, and traces are only requested on some recovered weapons. Central America, a region awash with weapons imported by both governments and rebel groups during the civil wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, is a further potential weapon source to Mexico, as are Chinese, Russian, Eastern European, or other sources. To date evidence is mainly anecdotal. Still less is known about the third source of weapons, the Mexican security forces themselves. The Small Arms Survey 2008 showed that weapons diverted from police and armed forces are a major and sometimes the main source of illicit weapons in many countries. Some weapons used in Mexican crimes such as grenades, RPGs and fully automatic weapons are less easy to acquire in the US, and have probably arrived from elsewhere. This contrasts with Canada, where very few cases detail handguns from anywhere but the US, other than arms illegally diverted from legal Canadian supplies.  According to Cook, the specific impact and effects of illicitly trafficked firearms are unknowns. “Although we know that armed violence can have a variety of deleterious effects on perceived and real insecurity, public health, economic development, and political stability, we do not know how much of this can be associated specifically with changes in the availability of firearms,” he says.  Some values can be quantified: Previous research has shown that life expectancy is lowered by 0.6 years for all Mexicans as a result of armed violence, with the US and Canada figures at 0.31 and 0.08, respectively. But firearms’ negative effects are highly context dependent, with factors such as demand strength, types of weapons circulating, social groups with weapons access and reasons they possess them all contributing to the mix. “The use of guns by criminal groups increases their relative power, and in the dramatic circumstances we see in Mexico, contributes to subverting legitimate authority and creating such fear as to have a substantial economic and political impact,” says Cook.  The rate of gun homicide in Canada is statistically low and falling, yet public perception is that gun crime is rising. When Toronto, a city with 2.8 million people hit 52 gun homicides in 2005, it became “the year of the gun” in spite of the fact that the city had one of the lowest murder rates on the continent for a city of its size. Rates of homicide with guns are 6.7 times higher in the US than in Canada, and the US has 5.1 times Canada’s rate per 100,000 of gun robberies.  The authors speculate US authorities would not only have to stem the supply of smuggled weapons from the US, but also other potential sources to successfully block the flow of deadly arms to criminals and criminal organizations.  Statements made by public officials are usually intended to influence public opinion by offering conclusions, rather than to inform researchers’ analyses, the authors believe. They call for more data from criminal investigations and gun tracing to be made available to researchers.  “A broader inquiry is warranted,” says Cook. “The stakes are very high for developing effective strategies for limiting the illicit movements of guns.”  Another paper in the same issue on firearms discusses the UK and the Netherlands, which have among the lowest occurrence of gun-homicide in advanced industrial democracies. In Third Wave Criminology, guns, crime and social order, Adam Edwards of Cardiff University, UK and James Sheptycki, of York University, Canada use these examples to illustrate the evolution of criminology in the context of evolving paradigms from the sociology of science in the wake of postmodernism, and towards a basis for action in the face of scientific uncertainty.

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