I am informed by Justice Canada and Statistics Canada as follows: (a) The most recent year in which Canadian crime statistics are available is 1997. Data on criminal offences committed with the use of firearms are reported by police to the Aggregate Uniform Crime Reporting Survey UCR1, and Homicide Survey maintained by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. The CCJS is Canada's official source of crime data.
There are three criminal offences reported in the above-mentioned surveys. These include firearm homicide, firearm robbery and discharge firearm with intent. Other types of criminal offences investigated by the police which may involve the use of a firearm, et cetera, for example attempted murder, assault, sexual assault, abduction, are currently not reported to the CCJS, nor are they available nationally from other sources.
In 1997 there were 193 firearm homicide incidents, 5,478 firearm robbery incidents and 189 discharge firearm with intent incidents, representing a total of at least 5,860 criminal incidents which involved the use of a firearm.
(b) Although individual police agencies may collect this information, data on recovered firearms are not available from a national data source. Compiling such data would require considerable effort and cost. However, the Canadian Firearms Registration System, CFRS, will assist in further developing national data on firearms recovered by law enforcement in the future.
A number of alternative sources may be examined to provide a partial picture. Data from the Provincial Weapons Enforcement Unit, PWEU, of Ontario and from various recovered gun studies are presented below. According to PWEU, there were a total of 7,566 firearms seized by Ontario law enforcement in 1997 and 1998. These data reflect firearms seized from a crime scene or guns that were illegally possessed. According to PWEU, their records do not indicate whether the firearms were in fact used in a crime. Individual municipalities are still reporting data from 1998 and as a result the above figure is an undercount.
As additional information, PWEU provided the types of firearms seized by police during the above period. In 1997, 78% of the firearms seized were rifles/shotguns, 18% were handguns, 2% were machine guns/pistols and the remaining 1% were sawed-off rifles/shotguns.
Recently the Department of Justice Canada, in partnership with police services in Saint John, New Brunswick, Hull, Quebec, Thunder Bay and Windsor, Ontario, and Regina, Saskatchewan commissioned a joint research project to study the number and types of firearms recovered by police. It examined police records and property room files for the year 1995.
The study found that in 1995 these law enforcement agencies recovered 473 firearms in criminal incidents. Overall the study found that 52% of the firearms recovered by police in relation to a criminal incident were non-restricted rifles and shotguns, 21% were handguns, 19% were air guns, 4% were sawed-off rifles/shotguns and the remaining 4% were other firearms. It is important to note that under the Criminal Code air guns that shoot projectiles under the velocity of 152 meters per second are not defined as firearms. However, due to the number recovered in this and previous studies data on air guns were collected.
Data collected by the national Firearms Smuggling Work Group from 10 different police agencies across Canada revealed that they recovered 4,496 firearms in criminal incidents in 1993. The study also reported that of the 4,496 firearms recovered in criminal incidents, 47% were rifles/shotguns, 21% were handguns, 18% were air guns, 11% were other firearms and the remaining 3% were sawed-off rifle/shotguns.
In the above two studies, recovered firearms served as the unit of analysis, not criminal incidents involving firearms. In these studies the firearms may or may not have been used directly in the commission of a crime. For example, they includes firearms recovered by police during a drug raid.
(c) As noted above, data on recovered firearms are not readily available on a national level. Futhermore, if national data were readily available, the registration status of recovered firearms could only be ascertained for restricted firearms “mainly handguns” registered on the Restricted Weapons Registration System, RWRS, maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Once again, the CFRS will assist in developing information on the registration status of all firearms recovered by law enforcement.
Long gun registration statistics for crime will only be available when long gun registry is fully operational, after January 1, 2003.
Question No. 175—