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27 years after the horrific École Polytechnique massacre, the number of firearms in civilian possession has never been higher, while Canada’s gun murder rate continues to drop at a rate exceeding that of the overall murder rate.

Gun Crime Rate Falling Faster

In 1989, in addition to the 14 victims whose lives were tragically claimed by anti-feminist Marc Lépine, 640 other Canadians were victims of homicide; rendering an overall homicide rate of 2.40 victims for every 100,000 Canadians1. Of those 654 total victims, 216 were killed by firearms, resulting in a firearm murder rate of 0.79 per 100,0002.

According to Statistics Canada’s report on homicide dated 23 November 2016, Canada’s overall murder rate has declined dramatically since 1989, with Statistics Canada reporting a homicide rate of just 1.68 per 100,000 Canadians in 20151. That represents a decrease in the nation’s overall homicide rate of 30% since 1989. The firearm murder rate has been reduced even further; falling from 0.79 per 100,000 in 1989 to just 0.49 in 2015; a reduction of 38%2.

More Guns, More Gun Owners

This Statistics Canada report comes mere months after Canada’s 2015 Commissioner of Firearms Report broke news that firearm possession had seen record-breaking growth recently. 399,086 firearms licenses were issued in 2015 to bring the total number of license holders to 2,026,011 nation-wide3, a total that represents just under 6% of the Canadian population. Likewise, the Commissioner’s report indicates that 2015 marked the first year since the passage of the Firearms Act in 1998 that restricted and prohibited firearms have been possessed by licensed individuals in greater quantities than they were in 1989, with 978,347 such firearms registered in 2015 compared to 947,072 registered restricted and prohibited firearms in Canada in 1989.

At this point, more Canadians have gun licenses than play hockey. Although it’s not yet as socially accepted as our almost-national sport, gun ownership and shooting has historically been a huge part of Canadian culture, and these statistics demonstrate that a pastime we’re used to seeing in more rural areas of the country is starting to take root with a younger, more urban generation. They’re seeing firearm ownership as a way to connect with our national past, harvest healthier food more ethically, or just have a lot of fun.

1: Statistics Canada, Table 253-0001, Homicide survey, number and rates (per 100,000 population) of homicide victims, Canada, provinces and territories.

2: Statistics Canada, Table 253-0002, Homicide survey, primary methods used to commit homicide, Canada.

3: Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 2015 Commissioner of Firearms report.