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  1. An International Survey of Gun Laws and Violent Crime: The Republic of Ireland, Jamaica, Great Britain, Australia, and Canada

  2. Dr. Gary A Mauser Professor Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies Faculty of Business Administration Simon Fraser University Burnaby, BC, Canada Presented to the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology Renaissance Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee Saturday, 20 November 2004 American Society of Criminology

  3. Do British-style firearm regulations create a safer society? • Gun laws are explicitly focused on controlling firearms, but • The promise is that more restrictive gun laws will make society safer • What is the international evidence? American Society of Criminology

  4. An experiment in Brazil • “[The gun law] is … to cut the spiral of violence.. ” • President Luiz da Silva, Brazil • “The amnesty is the latest step in the [Brazil] government’s efforts to reduce violent crime.” • BBC report November 11, 2003 American Society of Criminology

  5. Promises in South Africa • “South Africa hopes to make a dent in its frighteningly high crime rate with a new gun-control law that went into effect …” • Agence France Presse, National Post, July 3, 2004, A10 • “We believe that in the long term these laws will ultimately create a safer South Africa.” • Police spokesman Andrew Lesch, July 3, 2004 American Society of Criminology

  6. How can we measure improvements in public safety? • Violent crime rates should drop • Homicide rates should fall • Not just criminal violence involving guns, but all criminal violence should fall • Not just gun homicide, but total homicide American Society of Criminology

  7. Which measures are the most appropriate? • Gun deaths • Gun violence • Total violent crime • Robbery, armed robbery • Total homicide (or murder) American Society of Criminology

  8. Gun Death is a Red Herring • Gun deaths are largely suicides • Suicide is not central to public safety • Substitution effect is supported empirically • The removal of firearms or sharps must balance liberty with personal safety American Society of Criminology

  9. Gun death is mostly suicide • 57% of gun deaths in the US are due to suicides • 77% of gun deaths in Canada are due to suicides American Society of Criminology

  10. Gun Violence • It is relevant to ask whether gun laws cause gun violence to decrease (or increase), • But …is this the best measure of public safety? • A policy could reduce gun violence, but overall violent crime could still increase • Gun crime is a small fraction of violent crime American Society of Criminology

  11. Gun violence is a small fraction of violent crime • Violent crime involving firearms: • Canada (2003) 2% • England and Wales (2001) 1% • United States (1999) 7% American Society of Criminology

  12. The most appropriate measures of public safety • Homicide rate (or murder) • Violent crime rate • Robbery, armed robbery American Society of Criminology

  13. International trends compared with trends in the US • Countries that have introduced harsh general firearms laws in the 1990s: • Australia, Great Britain, and Canada • Countries that completely banned firearms in the 1970s: • Republic of Ireland and Jamaica American Society of Criminology

  14. A natural quasi-experiment • The justice system in the United States has increasingly diverged from that in Britain or in the Commonwealth: • Arrest/conviction rates higher in the US, • Sentencing/punishment more severe, and • Citizens can carry concealed handguns. American Society of Criminology

  15. Please Note • To assess the effect of laws, we must compare trends across countries • Direct comparison of international averages is inappropriate • Police statistics, despite limitations, are the best international measure American Society of Criminology

  16. Republic of Ireland Gun prohibition and terrorism

  17. Irish Gun Law • Firearms prohibited and confiscated in 1972 • Concern with terrorism motivated this action as well as other police activities American Society of Criminology

  18. Murders continue to increase American Society of Criminology

  19. Jamaica The Gun Court and Drug Violence

  20. Jamaican Gun Laws • Gun court (1974 - 1982) • Firearms and ammunition prohibited • Mandatory life sentences • No bail, no jury trials for charges of possession of firearm or ammunition crimes, • Firearm ownership still prohibited American Society of Criminology

  21. Murders continue to increase American Society of Criminology

  22. Jamaican crime trends American Society of Criminology

  23. Violent crime continues to increase American Society of Criminology

  24. Great Britain

  25. Firearm laws have targeted legal owners • The Firearms Amendment of 1988 was brought in following the Hungerford incident • Brought in shotgun licences • The Firearms Amendment of 1997 was brought in after the Dunblane shooting • Prohibited and confiscated all handguns American Society of Criminology

  26. Homicide increasing American Society of Criminology

  27. Murders increasing in Scotland American Society of Criminology

  28. Violent crime rates increasing American Society of Criminology

  29. Robbery is increasing but gun ownership (legal) is decreasing American Society of Criminology

  30. Very few firearms used in homicide are legally held American Society of Criminology

  31. Australia

  32. Australian firearms legislation • In 1997, government brought in sweeping firearms legislation following shootings in Tasmania • Prohibited and confiscated semi-automatic long arms, • Introduced strict new licencing and registration regulations American Society of Criminology

  33. Homicide rates stable in Australia since 1997 gun law American Society of Criminology

  34. Violent crime growing in Australia, but falling in the United States American Society of Criminology

  35. Robbery rates are climbing in Australia but falling in the US American Society of Criminology

  36. Canada

  37. Canadian firearms legislation • 1977, introduced police screening for firearm purchasers • 1991, stiffer rules for ownership, prohibited a variety of firearms, magazines • 1995, owner licensing and universal firearm registration; banned many handguns American Society of Criminology

  38. Homicide rates decreasing faster in the US than in Canada American Society of Criminology

  39. Violent crime rates are basically flat in Canada, but falling in the US American Society of Criminology

  40. Decline in firearm suicide rate does not reduce total suicide rate American Society of Criminology

  41. 1995 Canadian firearms regulations • Total costs expected to reach $2 billion in 2004 • Originally estimated to cost $2 million • Corruption investigation ongoing • No visible effect on violent crime rates or suicide rates American Society of Criminology

  42. Summary • No evidence that restrictive firearm regulations have reduced violent crime or homicide rates in Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Jamaica, or the Republic of Ireland • Only the United States has witnessed a dramatic drop in criminal violence American Society of Criminology

  43. Tentative conclusions • British-style firearm laws and gun bans are ineffective and expensive • Prediction: new gun laws will fail in both Brazil and South Africa to curb violent crime or homicide American Society of Criminology