Canadians say gun violence rising; prefer national policy over provincial regulations

THE Liberal government made its latest gun policy announcement last week, creating “more stringent rules” to track the sale or transfer of non-restricted guns, a move that comes as Canadians express concerns that gun violence has been increasing domestically.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute canvassing the views of 5,000 Canadians, including large samples in urban centres, reflect these perceptions.

Overall, three-in-five (60%) say gun violence is rising in their province, with Quebecers (75%) and Ontarians (66%) most likely to perceive this to be the case.

Further, two-in-five (43%) say gun violence is increasing in their own community. Those in urban areas are considerably more likely to say this (46%) when compared with Canadians living in rural parts of the country (29%) and residents in Montreal (65%), Halifax (56%), and Toronto (54% in 416 area code, 57% in 905 area code) are most likely to note that their communities have become more violent. Official data from Statistics Canada confirms that firearm offences have, indeed, become more common over the past decade.

Gun control advocates recently sent a letter to Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino asking him and the federal government to ban handguns with consistent national policy and avoid creating a “disastrous patchwork” by offloading this decision to the provinces, as has been done thus far. Asked for their own views on this, Canadians lean heavily toward federal regulation rather than leaving it up to provinces to decide (66% do).

Saskatchewan (41%) and Alberta (34%) residents are most likely to support provincial rights on this issue, but in each case more respondents still say national policy would be best.

More Key Findings:

  • Asked to gauge Canada’s gun laws, 17 per cent of respondents say these laws are too strict, while nearly three-times as many say they are not strict enough (44%). A slightly smaller group of 30 per cent say current laws are about right in their view.
  • Gun owners are the only group within which a majority (56%) say gun laws are too strict. Among those who used to own a firearm, have one in the household that is not their own, or do not own any, sentiment is that laws are either about right or need to be tightened.
  • Nearly three-in-five (57%) current gun owners say federal laws on handgun ownership are the better policy choice, rather than leaving this decision to the provinces. Among those who neither own a gun or know someone that owns one, seven-in-ten (71%) agree.
  • Canadians are divided about a federal buyback program for banned firearms. Two-in-five support it – rising to 50 per cent in Metro Vancouver and 54 per cent in the Toronto core (area code 416). Overall, 47 per cent oppose the idea, including three-quarters (74%) of current gun owners.