Armed Self Defense: the Canadian Case
Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 24, No. 5, pp. 393-406, 1996
34 Pages Posted: 4 May 2010
Date Written: May 5, 1996
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.
Keywords: firearms, self-defence, United States, Canada, citizen survey
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