Monthly Archives: July 2009

62% of statistics are made up on the spot


The title of this entry may be a bit facetious, but there is an element of truth to it.  The written word is often taken as absolute gospel.  That’s because most people, understandably, can’t be bothered to verify the facts themselves.  It’s for this reason that I cite my references and sources whenever I quote anything, be it a statistic or a comment.  And when it comes to statistics, I try to use neutral sources, like Statistics Canada, wherever possible.  This way I get the true numbers before the spin has been added.

I was just re-reading Elizabeth Mandelman’s “An Interview with Wendy Cukier” and I found myself dumbfounded by the first sentence:

“In Canada, 85% of female homicide victims are murdered by their partners and in Ontario, possession or access to firearms is the fifth leading risk factor for femicide.”

Something about that number, 85%, just didn’t ring true to me, so I did some digging.  Lo and behold, it’s a complete fabrication.  The numbers for 2007, according to this document, state:

Total Homicides                                                  594

Female Victims                                                    162

Females killed by spouse                                       51

(legal and common law, past and current)

Killed by boyfriend/girlfriend/intimate                     16

(past and current)

The last number isn’t broken down into male and female victims, so for my purposes, I’m going to assume a worst-case scenario and say that all of the victims were female.  That gives us a grand total of 67 women who were killed by their current or previous spouse or partner (51+16=67).  So with 162 women killed in total for the year 2007 that works out to 41% of female homicide victims being murdered by their partners.  Not 85% as was so sensationally claimed in Ms Mandelman’s blog.

Is that still a horrendous figure? Absolutely.  But at least it’s the real figure and not a fabricated number designed to illicit an emotional response from the reader. 

According to the RCMP, there are about 2 million licensed firearms owners in Canada.  Most estimates place the actual number of firearms owners at around 5 million people.  That accounts for roughly 15% of the population of Canada. 

Call me crazy here, but if you’re heading a campaign to bring in new laws that will have an immediate and direct impact on 15% of the population, is it not too much to ask that you tell the truth?

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Say it ain’t so!


Elizabeth Mandelman says:

July 28, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Brad,
Add the number of domestic abuse deaths prevented and the number of perpetrators prohibited from acquiring firearms to the number of prevented suicides (or the use of firearms by people mentally unstable to own one), prevented accidents, and prevented criminal activities in this and other countries together, and it’s pretty easy to justify the Firearms Act (and, as has been pointed out again and again, it did not cost $2billion dollars).

You are correct in stating that you haven’t been using an emotional plea, and neither have I. There are fellows in other countries such as Uganda, Argentina, Nepal and Serbia, working on the same issue that I am. However, in those countries, there are no harmonized laws. Take a look at the statistics on domestic abuse and the use of firearms in those places, and maybe you’ll understand better why sometimes regulation is a good thing. I’m here looking at the Firearms Act as good practice, determing what elements are useful and what changes could be made to make the legislation even better. So by me being here, I am working to help other places in the world that you say are in need of people like me, with convictions.

Please tell me I’m wrong.  Please tell me that Ms Mandelman didn’t just try to compare domestic violence in Canada to domestic violence in 2nd & 3rd world countries.

The above comment was taken from Elizabeth Mandelman’s blog.  She’s working with IANSA on their Disarm Domestic Violence campaign.  The campaign was recently launched in several countries around the world:  Argentina, Brazil, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, DR Congo, El Salvador, Haiti, Liberia, Macedonia, Mali, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

I’m not going to raise the question of what Canada could possibly have in common with the other 27 countries on that list.  I am going to ask if Ms Mandelman actually believes the segment that I highlighted.  Because it sounds to me like she is implying (if not outright saying) that the primary reason that our firearms use and domestic violence rates are lower in Canada, is because of our laws.

So the extreme poverty in most of those countries has nothing to do with it?  The staggering lack of education is irrelevant?  Not just the history, but the culture of violence that is so prevalent in many of those countries isn’t important to the issue of domestic violence?  And the fact that the majority of the countries on that list are traditionally patriarchal societies in which women have few inherent rights – that doesn’t factor in at all?

You see, I’ve been to several of the countries on that list.  I’ve seen first hand how their societies work.  I can say with absolute 100% conviction that restricting access to firearms will do NOTHING to reduce domestic violence in any of them.  Sure, it may reduce firearm use, but the crime rates and levels of violence will remain the same.

The rate of domestic violence has been declining in Canada for decades.  Any claims that a law which was introduced in 1995 has had any measurable effect on the numbers are completely false and not supported by the available data.  In fact a weapon is used only 7% of the time in cases of domestic violence – that’s all types of weapons, not just firearms.

Spousal Homicide Rate

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-224-x/85-224-x2008000-eng.pdf

 

Firearm-Related Crime

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/85-002-x2008002-eng.pdf

“The rates of overall fi rearm-related violent crime have been stable since 2003. Most violent offences, including homicide, attempted murder, robbery, forcible confinement and assault follow a similar pattern. Longer-term data, available for homicide and robbery, show that the rates of these two offences gradually declined throughout the past three decades with recent levels well below those reported in the 1970s. While the incidence of firearm-related violent crime is relatively low, those that are committed with a firearm most often involve a handgun.

The section I’ve highlighted in bold shows, once again, that firearm-related crime has been falling since the 1970’s.  So how could anyone claim that a piece of legislation introduced in 1995 has had anything whatsoever to do with it?

Handguns have been registered in Canada since 1934.  Yet, as the section I’ve underlined states, they’re still the most used type of firearm in violent crimes.  So what exactly has registration accomplished again?

There are many, many factors involved in the issue of domestic violence, especially in the third world.   Claiming that tighter gun laws reduce domestic violence is not only statistically false, it’s also a betrayal of the victims whom the makers of these laws are supposedly trying to protect.

“The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.”


Pierre Trudeau made that statement in December 1967.  If that’s truly the case, then why is the state so keen to get into mine?  Here is a picture of the current application form for a firearm Purchase and Acquisition License (PAL) – click on picture for a larger image.

 

I hope you find those questions just as disturbing as I did.  What business is it of the government whether or not I’m divorced or separated?  What business is it of theirs who I may or may not have slept with in the last two years?

Even though I was angry about the question, I didn’t have the energy to fight over it.  So I dutifully filled in the boxes and got my PAL two months later.  Unfortunately, most of us are in the same boat.  We just don’t have the money, time, energy or motivation to take the issue to the courts.

Thankfully, there’s one man who was willing to take it to the courts.  Economist and author, Pierre Lemieux may very well become the first person in our country to be jailed for refusing to tell the government about his love life.  For full details on his story check here:

Every man, woman and child in this country should be up in arms over such a gross invasion of privacy by our government.  But wait, where were we again in that lifecycle of civilization?  Oh yeah…apathy.

Do you hear that deafening silence?  That’s the sound of our rights and freedoms being systematically whittled away in the name of “public safety”.

10 Myths of the Long Gun Registry


Taken from the CSSA website

Myth #1: The Gun Registry is a valuable tool for the police and they access it 6,500 times per day.

False. The “6,500 hits” figure for the Canadian Firearms Registry On-Line (CFRO) is misleading per the Public Security Ministry’s website of May 17, 2006 (Ques. 18).

  • Whenever police officers access theCanadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) for any reason, such as for a simple address check, an automatic hit is generated with CFRO whether the information is desired or not. This is the case, forexample, with the Toronto Police Service (5,000 officers), the Vancouver Police (1,400 officers), Ottawa Police Service (1,050 officers) and the BC RCMP (5,000 officers).
  • Additionally, every legal purchase of a firearm generates three administrative hits to the registry; for the buyer, for the seller and for the firearm. These changes to the computer records are conducted by police agencies and are counted in thetotals. Given the seven million firearms registered in the system, legal transfers must account for the majority of “hits.” Clearly, a hit on the Registry does not denote legitimate investigative use.

Myth #2: The registry provides police officers information on the presence of firearms when they respond to emergency calls

Maybe. The Firearms Registry only provides a list of the legal guns, the very guns an officer is leastlikely to be harmed by. The truth is, very few legally owned guns are used in the commission of crimes. The latest report shows some 7% of firearm homicides were committed with registered firearms in the last 8 years. The elimination of the registry will only eliminate the useless lists of lawful guns. The fact an individual has a firearms licence will still be known to the police. They will know whether a legal firearmis at a particular location by virtue of the fact that an individual has a licence. The abolition of the long gun registry doesn’t affect that. Even so, it is the illegal firearms that police are usually the most concerned about (93% in the last 8 years). No police officer would rely on the inaccurate registry data to dictate how they approach a domestic or emergency call. They would approach all calls with anappropriate measure of safety.

Myth #3: Firearms related deaths have been reduced due to the long gun registry.

False. Reduction in firearms deaths started in the mid 1970s, well prior to the introduction of the registry in 2003 (StatsCan) and mirrors a proportionally greater reduction experienced in the United States, where firearms laws are being loosened. There is no evidence to link the reduction in deaths with the registry and it has far more to do with the aging demographic that anything else.

Myth #4: Police investigations are aided by the registry.

Doubtful. Information contained in the registry is incomplete and unreliable. Due to the inaccuracy of the information, it cannot be used as evidence in court and the government has yet to prove that it has been a contributing factor in any investigation. Another factor is the dismal compliance rate (estimated at only 50%) for licensing and registration which further renders the registry useless. Some senior police officers have stated as such: “The law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us solve any of them. None of the guns we know to have been used were registered … the money could be more effectively used for security against terrorism as well as a host of other public safety initiatives.” Former Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino, January 2003.

Myth #5: The registry protects women in violent domestic situations.

False. Registered long guns were used in (all) homicide only twice in 2003 (Public Security Ministry website), and a total of 9 times from 1997-2004 (Library of Parliament). The registry of 7,000,000 firearms did not prevent these deaths. Given the extraordinarily low rate of misuse of some 7,000,000 registered firearms, it is unreasonable to believe that maintaining a registry of long guns could have any effect on spousal homicide rates. Moreover, the vast majority of violent domestic assaults are preceded by a lengthy, police recorded history, effectively denying abusers a firearms licence. This should address their access to legally acquired guns.

On an average day, women’s shelters referred 221 women and 112 children elsewhere due to lack of funding. Clearly, there are better uses for the money than registering duck guns.

Myth #6: The registry helps track stolen guns and forces firearms owners to be more responsible in storing their firearms. Over 50% of firearms used in crime are stolen from gun owners

False. Past Department of Justice studies found that among homicides where details were available, 84%of the firearms used in the commission of the crimes are unregistered and 74.9% are illegal guns smuggled into Canada, not the 50% some claim. Recently, Canada’s National Weapons Enforcement Support Team reported that 94% of crime guns were illegally imported into Canada. Vancouver Police report 97% of seized firearms are smuggled. Other government sources show between 9 and 16% ofcrime firearms originate in Canada. That figure is speculative as the vast majority of firearms used in crime are never recovered and most recovered guns cannot be identified as the serial numbers areremoved.

Myth #7: The information on the registry database is secure and cannot be accessed by the criminal element.

False. There were 306 illegal breaches of the national police database documented between 1995 and2003, 121 of which are still unsolved. Many police investigators have publicly voiced their concerns that the gun registry has been breached and become a “shopping list” for thieves.

Myth #8: The money has already been spent to set up the registry. It is foolish to dismantle it now.

False. The gun registry is by no means complete. Only 7 million of the 16.5 million guns that are in Canada (according to government import and export records) are registered. More than 300,000 owners of previously registered handguns still don’t have a firearms licence, more than 400,000 firearm licence holders still haven’t registered a gun and more than 300,000 owners of a registered handgun still have to re-register 548,254 handguns (Canadian Firearms Registry). Based upon precedent, it will cost another billion dollars to complete the registry.

Myth #9: Rifles and shotguns are the weapon of choice for criminals and are the most used firearms in crime.

False. Where firearms were used in a violent crime, 71.2% involved handguns (but it is estimated that over 1/3 involve replicas or air guns), only 9% involved rifles or shotguns (of which 2.1% were registered) and 6.5% involved sawed off-rifles or shotguns (already prohibited).

Myth #10: The recent deaths of 6 RCMP officers at the hands of criminals with rifles proves the needfor the long gun registry.

False. The registry’s monumental failure to prevent the tragic deaths of these police officers underscores the folly of registering the firearms of the law abiding. All the criminals who committed these crimes were in illegal possession of unregistered guns, despite the presence of the registry. These events prove,beyond a shadow of a doubt, the ineffective uselessness of the long gun registry in protecting our society.

Setting the record straight


Following up on my last entry, I’m going to take this opportunity to post a couple of my entries that were axed from Ms Mandelman’s blog.  They were such wonderful pieces of literary genius, it would be a shame to let them rot on my hard drive 😀  Unfortunately I didn’t save them all.  Enjoy!

In response to this entry were these disappearing comments:

Jayde says,

 Elizabeth,

The reason that people who are pro-gun bring up the idea of disarming an entire populace is quite simple. Many pro-gun types are students of history. And history has shown us that firearm registration invariably leads to firearm confiscation – look at Hitler, Castro and Mao to name just three.

History has also shown us that bans never work. The war on drugs and prohibition immediately spring to mind.

Registering firearms to reduce domestic violence makes about as much sense as registering needles to reduce international drug trafficking.

It’s logic 101 Ms Mandelman. Just because all women are human, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all humans are women. Just because guns are sometimes used in cases of domestic violence, it doesn’t necessarily follow that domestic violence is dependent on the gun.

 2nd post by me

Jayde says,

And I’d also like to add that I did read the description of Ms Saywell’s documentary. I was particularly struck by the first line “Small arms are the real weapons of mass destruction, killing more than half a million people a year, spreading like a disease and destablizing entire regions.”

Half a million people a year….I’m assuming that’s globally. Considering that approximately 60 million people die worldwide each year, that accounts for about 0.8% of all deaths each year.

Heart disease takes over 7 million people (12%). Stroke another 4 million (7%). Respiratory infections (including TB) claims about 8 million people globally each year (15%).

Road traffic accidents account for 1.5 million deaths a year. That’s fully 300% more deaths than caused by small arms each year. It would seems to me that cars – not guns – are the real weapons of mass destruction.

 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/facts…/en/index.html

 Elizabeth Mandelman says:
July 25, 2009 at 9:54 am
Jayde-
1,000 people die worldwide per day because of gun violence. If you’re unable to grasp the fact that this equates to a HUGE problem because you’d rather fight for what you think are your inherent rights (which FYI-gun ownership is NOT in Canada) then help end the illegal trade of guns through registering yours, which you own legally, then I don’t what else I can tell you. You clearly put your own self interests above anything else, like helping to keep society safe and preventing more refugee camps from having to be erected in places like Somalia.

 Jayde says:
July 25, 2009 at 10:30 am
Elizabeth
Of course I put my own self-interests above anything else. So do you. So does every person on this planet. If you don’t nobody else will do it for you.

You’re correct. In Canada we don’t have a right to own a gun. In fact, in Canada we have absolutely no property rights whatsoever. We don’t technically “own” anything. The government could take our home away from us with absolutely no compensation if they felt like it.

But we do have a right to self defense. And I will use whatever means are at my disposal to exercise that right. And statistics show that in a structured society, when citizens are armed the crime rates are lowered dramatically. Just look at Washington, DC if you’d like proof – they lifted their handgun ban last year and homicide rates in the city have plummeted.

I understand your drive to help others. I just think your efforts are misguided. Registering every gun is an impossible and pointless mission. I’ve been to war-torn countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. I’ve seen first hand how things work there. Removing the illegal guns will not stop these wars. If they can’t get guns, they’ll resort to machetes and spears. But the wars will still continue.

 And in response to this entry I wrote:

 Elizabeth
If you haven’t noticed it yet, I love statistics And I’ve got the perfect one for you today.

A member of the Edmonton Police Service has been conducting a survey of officers across the country, asking them whether or not they find the firearms registry to be a useful tool. Since April of this year, over 1600 officers have responded, and only 117 think we should keep the registry. That works out to about 1 in 14, or roughly 7%. I’ll say that again: only 7% of police officers polled across Canada think that the firearms registry is a useful tool. One respondent was quoted as saying,

“I think the gun registry gives people a false sense of security, including police officers. Most people don’t realize how confusing and poorly run this system is. I have yet to meet a crack dealer or a murderer who had a registered firearm or license. Two billion dollars would have fed a lot of people, or fixed a lot of roads, or bought a lot of medical supplies for Canadians. It is time the gun registry was scrapped.”

Aside from the cost, another issue of the registry is security. Are you aware that the registry database has been hacked dozens of times since its inception? That’s right, a database that has the address of every legal gun owner in the country, as well as an itemized inventory of which firearms each person owns has repeatedly been breached. In my world, that’s one hell of a public safety concern.

On top of that, the database is so flawed and inaccurate, that the information it contains is inadmissible in a court of law. If Detective Hawes finds it useful, well good for him, but he’s one of the very few police officers in this country who does. And I’ll just finish by saying this: in the video clip that you’ve included, everything that Detective Hawes said about gun control had to do with licensing not registration.

Censorship at it’s finest


Alright, I’m going to try really hard to keep this short, but that’ll probably be a lost cause 🙂

 I’ve been following Elizabeth Mandelman’s blog for a couple of weeks now, and I’m really disappointed.  For those who don’t know, Ms Mandelman is just the newest kid on the block in a long line of anti-gun advocates in Canada.  There are two things that particularly annoy me about Ms Mandelman’s blog:

 #1 – She’s American and has only been in Canada for a few weeks.  If she was planning on staying in this country permanently, I wouldn’t hold that against her.  But she’s just passing through for grad school.  Now I don’t know about you, but when a guest in my country starts meddling in affairs that they don’t fully understand, it tends to irk me a little bit.

 #2 – This one here is the kicker, and where my disappointment comes in.  As a grad student, I had hoped that Ms Mandelman would be a bit more open to debate.  But unfortunately, it seems she’s just like all the other antis that have come before her: she’s only open to debate so long as you don’t disagree with her too much.

 Now don’t get me wrong here, it’s her blog and she’s free to do whatever she wants with it.  It’s all fine and dandy to disallow a comment or two, but to actively go back and erase every single comment made by a poster on every single blog entry….well, now that’s just censorship, pure and simple. 

 I’ll admit that I have a rather dry and sardonic wit, that doesn’t always come through that well in text.  But seriously.  Come on!  If I was being disrespectful, that’s one thing, but the only crime that I committed was to post cold, hard facts that contradicted Ms Mandelman’s platform.

 It’s pretty typical though.  Pro-gun advocates rely on statistics and facts to back up their arguments, while anti-gun advocates rely on emotional pleas to compensate for their lack of hard evidence.  I don’t know why I expected anything different really…

Lifecycle of Civilizations


“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.” 

That line was written by the Scottish lawyer/writer Alexander Fraser Tytler in the late 1700s.  It’s not known for sure if Mr Tytler coined these words:

 “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

But Mr Tytler is most definitely responsible for this sequence, known as the Tytler Cycle:

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequences:

1. from bondage to spiritual faith;

2. from spiritual faith to great courage;

3. from courage to liberty;

4. from liberty to abundance;

5. from abundance to complacency;

6. from complacency to apathy;

7. from apathy to dependence;

8. from dependence back into bondage.”

I’ve always been fascinated by history, and the first time I heard about this cycle was the classic “lightbulb” moment.  It applies to every great empire and civilization: China, Persia, Greece, Rome, Britain, and now the American empire.  Some of you may balk at my referring to the American “empire”, but that’s another discussion entirely in itself.  The thing that gets me about this cycle, is just how deeply apathetic we, in the west, have become.

Actually, it’s not even the apathy that really bothers me.  It’s the ignorance.  The people who think and act like all the troubles in the world right now are happening for the very first time.  Sure the characters might be different this time around, but it’s still the same story. But even worse than that is the arrogance.  The people, and particularly some of our leaders, who know that it’s all happened before, yet continue to make the same mistakes and think that this time they can “beat the system”.  What’s that definition of insanity again? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

There’s no stopping this bus from going over the cliff, but it sure would be nice to know that at least one or two other passengers noticed that the cliff was coming.