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Monday, 25 February 2008

Metro Vancouver had the highest rate of gun crime

Metro Vancouver had the highest rate of gun crime in the country in 2006, part of a trend of relatively high violent crime and weapon use in western provinces, according to a new Statistics Canada report. Calculated by population, Metro Vancouver's gun crime rate was ahead of second-place Winnipeg and third-place Toronto. B.C.'s largest metropolitan area recorded 45.3 violent offences involving guns for every 100,000 people, compared to 43.9 in the Winnipeg region and 40.4 in metropolitan Toronto. The national average for gun-related crime of all types was 27.5, illustrating the modern trend of gun crime in urban areas. For gun-related homicides, the report found Abbotsford had the second-highest rate in Canada behind Edmonton. Provincially, B.C. had 29 gun-related homicides in 2006, and 521 robberies in which guns were used. B.C.'s rate was slightly higher than the national average for both homicides and robberies with guns. Nationally, gun crime rates for B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were two to three times greater than those in the Atlantic provinces. One exception was Halifax, which had the highest rate in the country of robberies with guns. With its large population, the Toronto region accounted for a quarter of all the gun-related crimes in the country.
Long-term trends show a decline of homicide with guns through most of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, with the 2006 rate about half what it was 30 years earlier. The study attributes that mainly to an 86 per cent decrease in homicides using rifles and shotguns, which have become scarce in modern urban society. The use of handguns in homicide surpassed rifles or shotguns by 1991, and by 2006 there were three times as many people killed with handguns as with rifles and shotguns.
The study found that mandatory minimum sentences for gun-related crime resulted in an average sentence of just over four years in prison, double the average sentence for violent crimes committed without guns. Adults accused of a violent offence involving a gun were also less likely to plead guilty. In 2005-06 a guilty plea was entered in 79 per cent of cases involving a firearm, compared to 86 per cent for violent crimes without a gun.



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