Canadian Murders Involving Firearms Rose Again in 2005

TORONTO – According to a recently released Statistics Canada report, Canadian gun deaths increased in 2005 to 222 from 173 in 2004. This is the third consecutive rise in firearm-related homicides in three years.

Additionally, 58 percent of all gun deaths involved handguns. Prior to 1991, rifles and shotguns were the weapons of choice.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Following a substantial increase in 2004, the national homicide rate climbed another 4 percent in 2005 to 2.04 victims per 100,000 population, marking its highest point in nearly a decade.
  • Canadian police services reported 658 homicides in 2005, 34 more than in 2004. The most substantial increases were reported in Ontario (+31) and Alberta (+23). Despite the overall increase, decreases were reported in British Columbia (-15) and Quebec (-11).
  • Saskatchewan (4.33) and Manitoba (4.16) recorded the highest provincial rates. There were no homicides recorded in Prince Edward Island for the second year in a row.
  • Among Canada’s census metropolitan areas (CMAs), Edmonton reported the highest homicide rate (4.29), and its highest rate since CMA statistics were first available in 1981. There were no homicides reported in Saint John, Sherbrooke (for the third year in a row) and Trois-Rivières. Montréal’s rate was its lowest since 1981 when CMA statistics were first available.
  • There were 222 victims killed by a firearm in 2005, 49 more than the previous year. This is the third consecutive annual increase in firearm homicides. Handguns accounted for about 6 in 10 firearm homicides.
  • Homicide data consistently show that victims are far more likely to be killed by someone they know than by a stranger. Among the 478 solved homicides in 2005, about half were killed by an acquaintance, one third by a family member and almost 20 percent by a stranger.
  • The overall increase in homicides was driven by an increase in incidents committed by strangers and individuals known to each other through illegal activities. At the same time, 2005 marked the fewest parent-young child homicides committed since 1964.
  • There were 74 spousal homicides in 2005, 1 fewer than in 2004, resulting in the fourth consecutive annual decline in the spousal homicide rate. Consistent with previous years, the 2005 spousal homicide rate against women was five times higher than the rate against men.
  • Gang-related homicides rose to 107 in 2005 (16 percent of all homicides), 35 more than in 2004. The largest increase occurred in the province of Ontario, where the number of gang-related homicides doubled from last year. Two-thirds (68 percent) of allgang-related homicides were committed with a firearm, usually a handgun.
  • The youth accused of homicide rate reached its highest point in more than a decade. There were 65 youths (12 to 17 years) accused of homicide in 2005, 21 more than the previous year.
  • Consistent with previous years, 9 in 10 persons accused of homicide and three-quarters of victims were male in 2005.
  • In 2005, two-thirds of adult accused and about one-third of youth accused of homicide had a criminal record in Canada. Half of all adult victims and one-quarter of youth victims also had a criminal record.

A copy of the report can be found at www.statcan.ca.

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