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Firearm-related crimes highest on Prairies: study

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Some firearms seized during the raid of a house in the RM of Lac du Bonnet earlier this year.

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Some firearms seized during the raid of a house in the RM of Lac du Bonnet earlier this year.

Violent crimes involving firearms are most prevalent on the Prairies, according to 2012 numbers released by Statistics Canada this morning.

In a study based on data from nine provinces (Quebec was excluded) and the three territories, Manitoba and Saskatchewan had the highest rate of firearm-related crimes among provinces. Manitoba saw 32 incidents of these types of crimes per 100,000 people, second only to its provincial neighbour to the west (Saskatchewan, 34 per 100,000).

Manitoba also ranked second in firearm-related crimes involving youth (77 per 100,000). Saskatchewan led that category with 88 per 100,000 youth.

Winnipeg ranked fifth among Canadian cities in terms of violent crime with a firearm in 2012, trailing only Hamilton, Saskatoon, Moncton and Halifax.

While Manitoba and Saskatchewan also reported the highest rates of non-firearm related violent crime in 2012 (1,667 and 1,879 per 100,000 population, respectively), the two provinces did not have the highest rate of firearm-related homicides in 2012. That distinction went to Nova Scotia (0.84 per 100,000 people) and Alberta (0.75 per 100,000).

Interesting note: there were no firearm-related homicides in Prince Edward Island in 2012, marking the 23rd consecutive year the island had no gun-related murders.

Overall, according to Stats Canada, the numbers of victims and the rate of firearm-related violent crime fell more that 25 per cent between 2009 and 2012. Police across the country reported 5,600 victims of firearm-related violent crime in 2012, approximately 1,800 fewer victims of this type of crime than in 2009. This represented a rate of 21 victims per 100,000 people in 2012, down from 29 victims per 100,000 population in 2009.

The data also reveals that while violent crime is decreasing in Canada, violent crime involving guns is decreasing at a faster rate than non-firearm violent crime.

Stats Canada says that two per cent of all violent crime in Canada in 2012 was firearm-related, while 17 per cent of crimes involved a different weapon (knife, blunt instrument) and 81 per cent of violent crimes involved no weapon at all.

Stats Canada reports these proportions remain stable since 2009.

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