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New data from Statistics Canada show the rate of firearms-related crime in Canada and the number of victims are declining. Incidents involving firearms accounted for 2 per cent of all victims of police-reported violent crime in 2012, Statscan reported. Police reported approximately 5,600 victims of violent crime where a firearm was present in 2012, about 1,800 fewer victims of firearm-related violent crime than 2009. Quebec is excluded from the report due to data-quality issues.

In comparison, the rate of non-firearm-related violent crime was about 49 times higher, at 1,033 victims per 100,000 population, Statscan reported. Since 2009, the rate of violent offences involving other weapons has decreased 9 per cent, while the rate of offences involving the use of physical force, threat, or no weapon has decreased 14 per cent.

Highlights from Firearms and violent crime in Canada, 2012 (PDF)

Halifax has the highest rate of firearm-related violence

With 41 victims of firearm-related violent crime per 100,000 population, Halifax reported the highest rate among reporting census metropolitan areas, slightly higher than Moncton, which reported 39 per 100,000 population. As a whole, there were 21 victims of firearm-related violent crime per 100,000 in Canada in 2012. Saskatchewan and Manitoba had the highest provincial rates in 2012, with 34 and 32 per 100,000, respectively.

Gangs make up nearly half of all firearm-related deaths

Firearm-related killings are more likely to be related to organized crime or street gang activity than homicides committed without the use of a firearm. In 2012, 46 per cent of all homicides committed with a firearm were gang-related, compared to fewer than one in ten homicides committed with another type of weapon (8 per cent) or with physical force (5 per cent). Three-quarters of gang-related homicides involving firearms were committed with the use of a handgun. 

Firearms more likely to be used by a stranger

While it is generally the case that victims of violent crime know the accused person, in 2012 60 per cent of victims of firearm-related violent crime were shot by a stranger. Violent crime committed by intimate partners, family members or acquaintances were less likely to have firearms present.

One in five accused of a firearms-related crime is under 18

Violent crime among youth rarely involves firearms. In 2012, only 3 per cent of youth accused of violent crime involved a firearm. However, when just looking at firearms-related violence, approximately one in five (21 per cent) were youth between the ages of 12 and 17. Age of accused youth also has a bearing on which type of firearm is used. StatsCan includes flare guns and pellet guns as firearms. Nearly half of the time (44 per cent), an accused youth possessed a firearm-like weapon, such as a pellet gun or flare gun. However, 38 per cent of accused youth possessed a handgun.

Editor's note: The spelling of Thunder Bay has been corrected in the first chart.

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