A study conducted by researcher Mary Allen, of the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics, shows that firearm-related violence rates have increased in recent years.
In 2020, violent crimes accounted for approximately one in five crimes brought to the attention of the police.
Firearm-related crimes typically account for less than 3% of violent crimes reported to the police in Canada. However, this type of crime has a significant emotional and physical impact on victims, families and communities.
In 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 8,344 crimes involving a firearm were reported to the police. This equates to 29 per 100,000 population, a rate similar to that of 2019. However, this was not the case in all jurisdictions, as firearm-related crime rates increased in some areas and decreased in others.
Between 2019 and 2020, there were notable increases in firearm-related violent crime rates in rural areas, such as in southern British Columbia (+34%), northern Ontario (+32%), Alberta (+32% in the North and +31% in the South), Northwest Territories (+23%) and Nova Scotia (+22%).
This study examines firearm-related crime in the two six-year periods before and after 2015, when a significant increase was recorded.
In 2020, police reported a total of 743 homicide victims in Canada, with a rate of 1.95 per 100,000 population. For 277 of these victims, a firearm was used to commit the homicide (a rate of 0.73 per 100,000 population).
After a gradual decline between the years 2009 and 2013, the rate of firearm-related homicides has increased since 2013, with only one decrease in 2018.
As a result, the proportion of homicides by firearm increased from 26% of all homicides in 2013 to 37% in 2020.
Handguns were the most popular weapon in the majority of firearm-related crimes between 2009 and 2020 (59%).
On the one hand, firearm-related crime rates were higher in rural areas than in urban centres in most provinces, and significantly higher in northern rural regions. On the other hand, firearm-related crimes generally accounted for a higher proportion of violent crime in urban areas.
Consequently, people living in some rural areas may be at greater risk of firearm crime, but crimes that occur in urban areas are more likely to involve a firearm.
In 2020, the accused charged with firearm-related offences was frequently unknown to the victim (for 55% of male victims and 41% of female victims). However, this was driven by urban firearm-related crime.