Scrapping the long-gun registry: some relevant numbers

A look at firearms numbers: the registry, the cost, and deaths, homicides and suicides involving guns.

Canada's homicide rate at lowest level since 1966

Since the introduction of stricter gun laws in 1991, there has been a 65 per cent reduction in homicides by long guns, Statistics Canada data shows. The reduction in homicides involving any type of firearm was 37 per cent.

Statistics Canada released a report on Oct. 26, 2011, on homicides in Canada in 2010. That year, there were 170 shooting homicides, about 32 per cent of all homicides. The total homicide rate fell to its lowest level since 1966 (1.62 per 100,000 population).

From 1995, when the firearms registry became law, to 2010, there was a 41 per cent reduction in homicides by long guns.

During those years, the cost of establishing the registry was more than $1 billion. The Harper government campaigned on getting rid of the long-gun registry and now it says it also intends to destroy all the information about long-gun owners that has been collected.

Gun registry information is used by police across Canada more than 17,000 times per day.

Those statistics and others will be part of the debate over scrapping the registry. Here's a look at the numbers. 


Firearms registered (as of September 2011): 7,865,994 
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews talks at a farm near Ottawa, on Oct. 25, about the bill he tabled earlier in the day to scrap the long-gun registry. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)
  • Non-restricted firearms: 7,137,386
  • Restricted firearms: 528,323
  • Prohibited firearms: 200,285

Firearms per 100,000 population: 24,882 (Prince Edward Island has the lowest rate, at 18,029, and Yukon has the highest, 87,278.)

Transfers of firearms registration to a new owner, July - September 2011

  • using the internet, 142,516
  • over the phone, 76,002 
  • total 218,518

Firearms licences

  • Number of licences issued (including renewals), July - September 2011: 72,357
  • Renewal rate for firearm owners, July - September 2011: 88.7%
  • Licence refusals, 2010: 570 ( 395 in the first nine months of 2011)
  • Licence revocations, 2010: 2,229 (1,762 in the first nine months of 2011)

Police queries about firearms

  • Average number of queries per day by police to the Canadian Firearms Registry Online (CFRO): 17,402
  • Total CFRO Queries, 12 months to Sept. 30, 2011: 6,003,913


Cost of gunshot wounds

Cost per survivor admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds: $435,000

(A study of the cost associated with gunshot wounds in Canada was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1995. The study's author, T. R. Miller of the National Public Services Research Institute in the U.S., estimated that in 1991 the total cost associated with gunshot wounds was $6.6 billion.

The cost per survivor admitted to hospital was approximately $300,000. That number was adjusted for inflation to provide an estimate for 2011.)

1995: $2 million (government estimate of total cost of $119 million for the registry, minus registration fees)

2005: $1 billion (Auditor General projection of the registry price tag in 2002. $140 million in registration fees not subtracted)

1995-2009: $1.23 billion (net cost of Canadian government expenditure on firearms, less cost of registration fees)

Canadian Firearms Centre, planned spending 2010-2011: $71.4 million

Savings per year from ending the  registry of non-restricted firearms: $1-$4 million (2009 estimate by consulting firm Pleiad Canada for the RCMP)

Death by firearm

Deaths in Canada involving a firearm, 2003: 792  (78% were suicide, 17% homicide and 3% accidental discharge of a firearm, 2% shot by police)

Homicide by firearm

Firearm homicides, 2010: 170 (0.50 per 100 000 or about 32% of all homicides)

Firearm homicides, 1991 (the year stricter gun control was introduced): 271 (0.97 per 100 000 people)

Types of firearms homicides, 2010:

  • Rifles or shotguns: 23% (36% in 1999)
  • Handguns: 64%
  • Prohibited firearms: 12%

Change, as of 2010, in the number of homicides involving long guns since the introduction of stricter gun laws in 1991: - 65%

Change, as of 2010, in the number of homicides involving long guns since the introduction of the Firearms Act in 1995: - 41%

Homicides by type of firearm by rate per population. ((Statistics Canada))

Share of firearms used in homicides that were registered: 30% (Police recovered 61 firearms that had been used in suicides in 2006, about 36 per cent, and 18 of those guns were registered.)

Spousal homicides caused by shootings, 2000-2009: 167 (23%)

Reduction in the rate for spousal homicides involving firearms from 1980 to 2009: - 74% from nearly three per million spouses in 1980 to less than one per million spouses in 2009, according to Statistics Canada

Share of firearm-related spousal homicides involving a long gun: 50% (The rate of long-gun spousal suicides dropped about 80% between 1983 and 2009.)

Share of family-related homicides of children and youth (7 to 17 years), by shooting, 2000-2009: 26%

Of the last 18 police officers killed in the line of duty, as of August 2010, number killed by long guns: 14 (78%)

Suicide by firearm

Number of firearm-related suicides involving a long gun, 2004: 475 ( 5.4 times the number of suicides with handguns)

Change in number of firearm-related suicides since the introduction of stricter gun laws in 1991 (as of 2009): - 43%

Change in number of firearm-related suicides since the introduction of the Firearms Act in 1995 (as of 2009): - 23%

Increased likelihood that a home where there are firearms is the scene of a suicide, than a home without a gun: 4.8 times (based on a 1992  U.S. study in the New England Journal of Medicine)

Sources: RCMP, Statistics Canada, Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians