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July 16, 2008
United Nations Biennial Meeting of States to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent,
Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects
16 July 2008
By Gary Mauser
National Firearms Association of Canada – NFA
Mr President, distinguished delegates,
I am Gary Mauser, Professor Emeritus, of Simon Fraser University in Canada. I represent the National Firearms Association. For over 20 years,
my academic research at SFU has involved studying firearms and crime. A study I did with constitutional lawyer and criminologist Don B. Kates
has been recently published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. I will briefly report on our findings.
"A Critique of Methods Used to Estimate Civilian Firearms
in Small Arms Survey 2007, Guns and the City"
Shooting Sports Survey, Conservation and Sport
Julianne Versnel Gottlieb (Editor)
Merril Press, Bellevue, WA 2008
In this essay I briefly criticize the methodology used in the recent publication, Small Arms Survey 2007, Guns and the City, to estimate
global firearm stock. My critique will focus exclusively on Chapter 2, "Completing the Count, Civilian Firearms", by Aaron Karn, which introduces
important modifications to previous approaches used by the Small Arms Survey (SAS) group for estimating firearm stock (Killias, 1993; SAS 2002,
2006). The principal innovation in Chapter 2 is a new way to estimate the number of firearms held outside of national governments, referred to
here as "civilian firearms". Using this new approach, the SAS estimates have nearly doubled for world-wide firearm stock, jumping to 875 million
from 500 million. This increase is only apparent, as it is due entirely to changing methods for estimating non-governmental firearms.
The author asserts that 650 million of these firearms are held outside of government (by "civilians"). It is important to assess this new,
and supposedly more sophisticated, approach in order to evaluate its contribution.
Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International Evidence
Gary A. Mauser, Simon Fraser University
Don B. Kates, retired
The world abounds in instruments with which people can kill each other. Is the widespread availability of one of these instruments, firearms,
a crucial determinant of the incidence of murder? Or do patterns of murder and/or violent crime reflect basic socio-economic and/or cultural
factors to which the mere availability of one particular form of weaponry is irrelevant?
This article examines a broad range of international data that bear on two distinct but interrelated questions: first, whether widespread
firearm access is an important contributing factor in murder and/or suicide, and second, whether the introduction of laws that restrict
general access to firearms has been successful in reducing violent crime, homicide or suicide. Our conclusion from the available data is
that suicide, murder and violent crime rates are determined by basic social, economic and/or cultural factors with the availability of any
particular one of the world’s myriad deadly instrument being irrelevant.
This paper is the penultimate version as a few minor editorial changes have been made in the final publication.
Any changes the New Conservative government makes in the firearm laws should be based on solid principles that have been shown to be effective.
New legislation should not be introduced just because it is popular or acceptable.
The principal flaw in the EKOS survey is that it focused uniquely on the acceptability of changes to gun laws rather than whether the proposed
changes would be effective in reducing criminal violence. This puts the cart ahead of the horse.
Acceptability should not be ignored, but it is secondary in importance to effectiveness. To be effective, firearm laws should be acceptable to
as wide a spectrum of Canadians as possible.
Unfortunately, the only estimate available for the acceptability of the proposed changes is the EKOS survey. By default, it becomes the best
available information about what changes to the firearms laws the Canadian public will accept.
It is wise to base one's decisions on the best available information, even if that information is known to be less than perfect. The EKOS
survey only gains respect if its findings correspond with the recommendations of other respected sources, such as the Canadian Firearms Advisory
Committee. The recommendations of the CFAC predated the survey but they were corroborated by the survey results. This can be seen in several
key areas of the survey, where surprisingly high percentages of respondents supported the same recommendations that the CFAC had made earlier.
If the EKOS survey is ignored, there is little else to rely upon besides self-interested partisans who would probably not support the
government's initiatives no matter what they proposed.
Professor Gary Mauser draft of an article to be published by the Institute for Economic Analysis in Summer 2007
This draft article is to be published by the Institute for Economic Analysis;
This paper compares long-term crime trends in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries with those in the US. The US
is the only country where violent crime and homicide rates fell. Expensive and restrictive firearms laws failed to reduce
homicide or violent crime in any of the countries examined.
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October 4, 2006
Mauser Presentation to House of Commons Committee
I am Gary Mauser, a professor at Simon Fraser University. I am privileged to be in both the Institute for Canadian Urban Research
Studies in Criminology and the Faculty of Business Administration. I have researched and published in criminology for more than
15 years. My doctoral training was in social psychology and quantitative methods. And my academic research has been published in
criminology, political science as well as business journals.
My remarks are directed to the question of whether or not incarcerating serious or violent offenders is effective in protecting the public.
My reading of the criminological research suggests that imprisoning serious offenders is indeed effective, that increasing the number of
offenders who are incarcerated acts to reduce violent crime rates. This effect is especially pronounced with homicide rates.
The research supports the wisdom of imprisoning those who have been convicted of serious offences, that is, those punishable by prison
terms of 10 years or longer.
Claim #2: Police investigations are aided by the registry
Facts: The government has not been able to show that the registry has ever been critical to solving a single violent
Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino: "(The) law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us
solve any of them. None of the guns we know to have been used were registered .... (T)he money could be more effectively
used for security against terrorism as well as a host of other public safety initiatives." (Source: News Release, Ontario
Minister of Public Safety and Security, Jan 3, 2003)
· Total suicides have increased despite drop in gun-related suicides
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June 15, 2006
Fraser Forum - After the gun registry
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The gun registry is a failure and should be scrapped. But if it is scrapped, how will we be able to keep guns out
of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them?
I will argue here that it makes more sense to create a registry of people who should not have firearms, rather than a
list of people who should, a “high-risk persons” registry, in other words. Given that our goal is to protect the public, it
makes more sense to focus on the group that poses the greater risk. High-risk people are those who have proven themselves
to be dangerous or violent. In contrast, gun owners merely have the potential to be dangerous.
There are many fewer high-risk people than there are guns or gun owners. There are between 2 and 7 million gun owners and
between 12 and 15 million guns in Canada (Mauser, 2006). No one knows the exact number, but these are the best estimates
available. In contrast, there are only an estimated 400,000 criminals and other high-risk individuals who should not be
allowed to have firearms (Breitkreuz, 2004a).
May 10, 2006
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Professor Gary Mauser wrote Kevin Sorenson, MP, Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International
Development about Canada's National Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) at the Department of Foreign Affairs
and International Trade (DFAIT).
I recently attended a meeting of the Canadian National Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) at Foreign Affairs
Canada and was shocked at what I was told.
I am writing to ask that you review the attached report before it is presented to the United Nations in June.
The chair of this committee, Earl Turcotte, reported that, even though they do not have a mandate from the new Conservative
government, they intend to continue acting as if they had.
The Canadian National Committee on SALW has spent tens of millions of dollars - possibly hundreds of millions -- on a large
number of vague "feel good" projects around the world. At least 24 different international programs and initiatives are
listed as being funded or largely funded by them. (These are listed in the Report appended to this letter).
The SALW Committee is downplaying the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of these projects in attaining their stated
goals of reducing terrorism, criminal violence or suicide. There is no convincing empirical support for the success of these
Apparently, one of the primary goals of this committee, set by the previous government, is to embarrass the United States at
the United Nations. I hope that a Conservative government would wish to stop supporting a committee that purposefully
undermines the government's stated aims of improving relations with the United States.
Mr. Turcotte stated that the United Nations mandate for the 2001 "Program of Action on SALWs" expires this year, and it needs
to be renewed for the Canadian National Committee on SALW to continue. If the Conservatives act quickly it may be possible to
stop this Liberal boondoggle in Foreign Affairs..
Another goal of this committee is to urge the United Nations to abandon the practice of decision-making by consensus that
currently exists in UN committees. Given that a small minority of countries pays the bills at the UN, the United States
strongly opposes such an irresponsible practice.
I would ask that you review the CANADIAN REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS PROGRAMME OF ACTION TO PREVENT,
COMBAT AND ERADICATE THE ILLICIT TRADE IN SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS IN ALL ITS ASPECTS before it is presented to the United
Nations in late June.
Guns and Gangs: What should we do?
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Professor Gary Mauser, recently made a presentation on Guns and Gangs: What should we
do? for the Fraser Institute.
Click on the graphic, to start the presentation. If you have questions, you may
contact Professor Mauser
This paper is an invited keynote presentation to: In the Right Hands - an international firearm safety seminar, to be held at Christchurch,
New Zealand, 21-23 February 2006. This seminar is co-hosted by the New Zealand Police, New
Zealand Mountain Safety Council, and New Zealand Council of Licensed Firearm Owners.
This paper is a preliminary effort to evaluate the effects of the 1998 firearm registry on
public safety. The Federal Government saw the firearm registry as crucial for reducing criminal
violence and for saving lives. The government's approach to public safety relied upon an
unscientific analysis of firearms and violence that, as a result of its acceptance of public
health research, greatly exaggerated the dangers of lawful firearm ownership. In this paper I
criticize public health research methods as being moralistic and pseudoscientific. The Federal
Government's approach to public safety is compared with a provincial program that is more
The results show that since the firearm registry was implemented, the number of firearm owners
has significantly declined, as well as the number of firearm crimes and the number of
firearms-related deaths. Nevertheless, public safety cannot be said to have improved because
overall criminal violence and suicide rates remain stubbornly stable. The violent crime rate
has declined by only 4% since the registry was implemented, but the homicide rate has actually
increased by more than 3%. Perhaps the most striking change is that gang-related homicides and
homicides involving handguns have increased substantially. Overall suicide rates have declined
by just 2% since the registry began. Despite a drop in suicides involving firearms, hangings
have increased nearly cancelling out the drop in firearm suicides. No persuasive link can be
found between the firearm registry and any of these small changes. In comparison, the provincial
hunter-safety program has more modest goals, i.e., to reduce hunting and firearm accidents, but
limited evidence suggests that it is effective in actually saving lives.
“Trouble in Paradise: Small Arms in the Pacific”: A Brief Critique
This paper provides a brief review of a 2003 study by Alpers and Twyford in which they
claim that the availability of civilian firearms contributes to criminal violence in the
Pacific region. The authors admit that they could not collect any information on illegal or
smuggled firearms, but instead they chose to focus on firearms that are legally owned.
Despite recognizing that the principal source of illegal arms in the Pacific is police
armouries, these authors conclude that the most important next step to solving the
problems of criminal violence in the region is to introduce more restrictive firearms laws
and to disarm civilians. This is a stunning non sequitur as the authors merely assume their
conclusion. Their study provides no empirical support that civilian ownership of firearms
poses any potential for criminal or terrorist misuse.
The drive to introduce further restrictions on civilian firearm ownership in the Pacific is
based upon the fallacy that the availability of civilian firearms exacerbates criminal
violence. If this were true, then logically there would be higher levels of crime where
there are higher densities of gun ownership. This is not the case. Alpers and Twyford
imply that legal firearms in the hands of civilians are somehow the most important factor
in destabilization. This is false. The problem lies with illicit firearms, not legal firearms.
Contrary to what Alpers and Twyford claim, there is no empirical support for criminals
or terrorists obtaining significant numbers of firearms from civilians in any of the
countries in the Pacific region. Alpers and Twyford claim that criminals obtain the bulk
of their firearms from police armouries or from home-made weapons in the South Pacific.
This is a further internal contradiction in their study.
A review of the evidence at the international level undermines the claim that criminal
violence in a country is strongly linked to civilian firearm ownership (Greenwood, 2000;
Kates, 2003; Malcolm, 2005). Other factors, such as economic development and illegal
drugs, are more important (Kopel, 2005; Miron, 2001). It would therefore be ineffective
to base either national or regional laws on attempts to restrict civilian firearm ownership.
National Experiences with Firearms Regulations: Evaluating the Implications for
Presented at the Tower of London Symposium on the Legal, Economic and Human Rights
Implications of Civilian Firearms Ownership and Regulation, 2 May 2003
Do firearm regulations create a safer society?
Modern gun regulations appear to follow televised gun crime.
Politicians promise that more restrictive gun laws will make society safer.
But do they?
There were over eight hours of presentations at this landmark symposium. Distilled from that
program is the DVD, "A Question of Balance", which is 56 minutes long and includes numerous
graphics, video footage and photos, as well as a special 13-minute overview of major topics
Speakers covered important issues including: the futility of gun registration as a
deterrent against crime, the popularity of shooting in Switzerland, gun ownership as
a protection from genocide, women and firearms, the importance of shooting sports as
a form of recreation, and advice from the firearms industry on how to regulate trade.
The DVD is extremely informative and appropriate for libraries and schools, as well
as for giving to decision-makers.
Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the annual meetings of the Canadian Law and
Society Association in Calgary, Alberta, 12-14 April 1994, and at the American Society of
Criminology meetings in Phoenix, AZ, 27-30 October 1993.
*The author wishes to thank Taylor Buckner for his help in designing the survey instrument.
The author also would like to thank Colleen Collins-Dodd, Al Smithies, Mark Wexler, and
the anonymous reviewers for their helpful criticism of earlier drafts of this paper.
There is a vigorous debate over the frequency with which private citizens resort to the use of
firearms for self defense. No information has been previously available about how often firearms
are used defensively outside of the United States. This paper estimates the frequency with which
firearms are used for self protection by analyzing three telephone surveys of the general public
in Canada and a fourth survey of the general public in the United States. Canadians report using
firearms to protect themselves between 60,000 and 80,000 times per year from dangerous people
or animals. More importantly, between 19,000 and 37,500 of these incidents involve defense
against human threats. The results of the American survey confirm estimates about the frequency
firearms are used for self protection in the United States (Kleck 1988, 1991). In comparison
with the number of households with firearms, the frequency with which Canadians use firearms
to defend themselves against human threats is somewhat less than that of Americans. Policy
makers in both the United States and in Canada should be aware the private ownership of firearms
has benefits as well as costs for society. Firearms bans may cost more lives than they save.