MSc Security and Risk Management

Subject: Law
Pages: 55
Words: 15486
Reading time:
57 min
Study level: College


The present work considers access to firearms and peculiarities can f national and local legislation as possible facilitators of firearm-related homicide rates on the example of two cities, Seattle and Vancouver. The initial supposition guiding the work is that the rates in Seattle, USA are much higher than those in Vancouver, Canada, disregarding their geographical proximity, due to the fact that the US legislation offers practically unlimited freedom in granting the carrying and possessing of firearms, which affects the overall responsibility for them and their application in real or perceived crisis situations.

The analysis of research questions is conducted in the theoretical framework by analyzing the history of firearms legislation in both countries, the USA and Canada, the main factors shaping the present research in the discussed cities, as well as in the national scale in the countries studied. In the process of the investigation of these processes, it was determined that the policy regarding firearms acquisition, usage and application are substantially different n the USA and in Canada, with the latter strictly limiting the usage of any kinds of firearms and continuing to introduce new restrictions, and the former providing unlimited possibilities for its citizens in this respect and having loose legislation for controlling what this author would argue is a major national health crisis. The findings of such significant qualitative and quantitative differences presuppose the proof for the hypothesis initially adopted about the possible direct correlation between access to firearms and the rate of firearm-related homicide rates.

In addition, the second part of the work is devoted to the analysis of potentially dangerous means of homicide and tendencies for their change in connection with the change of access to firearms, as it happened in Canada. The statistical data utilized for the purposes of the present research clearly signifies the rise in homicide rates by other means than firearms in Vancouver, which seems to prove the fact that homicide rates are not solely dependent on access to handguns and other types of weapons of this kind. However, the heavy dependence of homicide rates on the gun culture and peculiarities of local legislation has been clearly proved and shown in practical inferences from the analyzed data.


Background of research

The present research is dedicated to the thorough investigation of the legislation concerning firearms possession and the ease of access to them in cities, the USA and Canada. Seattle and Vancouver have been chosen because of their geographical proximity and multiple similarities in demographic, population, natural and social indicators, thus ensuring the objectivity and accuracy of the findings.

The initiative for the research came from understanding the fact that homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver are incomparably different despite the fact that the cities share many commonalities. Therefore, on realizing this, it became clear that one of the prime reasons for the difference is the liberal gun access legislation adopted in one city and the strict, tough policy on gun access in the other. Policies and the legislative actions of the USA and Canada towards firearms control are substantially different so the comparison is likely to yield efficient results. However, using only data of comparison of total indicators of the USA and Canada would be too vague and generalized, which justifies the choice of Seattle and Vancouver as objects for analysis and comparison.

Vancouver is a leading Canadian seaport situated on a peninsula opposite Vancouver Island and located in British Columbia on the Pacific Ocean. It is 42 km northwest of the US – Canadian border. Vancouver occupies third place by its population, area and scope of business, commercial, manufacturing, tourist and cultural activities in Canada, after Toronto and Montreal (Wynn, 2009: 1).

Vancouver is predominantly a service center. Since the 1960s the city has experienced high levels of growth in population, labor force, investment, and trade. Recent growth has been concentrated heavily in the service sector, especially in finance, insurance, and real-estate-related activities. Other areas experiencing rapid growth include tourism (accommodation and food services), health and medical services, and business services’ (Wynn, 2009: 1).

At the present period of time, Vancouver has the highest population growth rate as compared to the whole of British Columbia. Its population represents a vivid cultural mix including representatives of Aboriginal people, African Americans, Asians, Europeans, Native Alaskans, French settlers and others (Wynn, 2009:1). All these characteristics indicate the high level of heterogeneity of the Vancouver community as well as a sign of the intensifying development and the expansion of the city and its metropolitan areas. One of the most important characteristics in the city’s profile relevant for the present study is the rates of homicide. According to the firearms statistics table provided by the Department of Justice, the homicide rate in Vancouver is steadily increasing, though still remaining at a very low level compared to US cities of comparable size. Figure 1 contains all data revealing the homicide statistics for the past decade in Vancouver, BC1.

Looking at the provided data, one can arguably conclude that the homicide rate in Vancouver is unusually low, being an indicator of a stable, lawfully obedient community residing in the area and abiding by the stringent gun control legislation in Canada. Even going a bit farther from the precise evaluation of firearms homicide rates and looking at the proportion of total homicide rates committed by firearms, one can see that it constitutes from one quarter to one third and even at times up to half of all homicide cases in Vancouver. If the amount of all alternative means of committing homicide is taken into account, one can clearly see that the rate of criminal activity, in general, is extremely low, the reason for which will be investigated further.

A completely different situation is observed in another North American city situated 182 km south from the US-Canadian border with a population of about 586,000 residents – Seattle. Seattle is the largest city in the State of Washington and is also a strategically important, densely populated American seaport (The Greater Seattle Datasheet, 2008: 1). In addition, it is often called ‘a commercial, cultural and advanced technology hub of the US Pacific Northwest’ – it performs a highly important role due to its location and socio-economic structure (The Greater Seattle Datasheet, 2008: 1). Seattle is known for its technology base, including Microsoft, Boeing aircraft, both founded and headquartered in Seattle, as well as Starbucks coffee and other globally recognized brand names.

Caucasian people constitute the majority of the population but representatives of many other ethnicities, such as African Americans, Asian, Native Americans and Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and others are also a significant part of the Seattle population (The Greater Seattle Datasheet, 2008: 1). The quality of life in the city is fairly high:

Seattle is frequently ranked among the top U.S. cities based on such factors as level of education, number and quality of arts organizations, access to wireless Internet connections and pedestrian-friendly environment’ (The Greater Seattle Datasheet, 2008: 1).

However, looking at the relevant statistics, which is at the core of the present research, one may see that the situation in the city is substantially different with regard to homicide rates than to the more general statistical characteristics of the city: Figure 2. Statistical data on homicide rates in Seattle, 1994-20042.

This statistical data fully corresponds to the nationwide statistical analysis conducted in 1996 concerning the crime rate tendencies that had been observed at the end of the previous century:

Overall homicide rate increased rapidly during the late 1980s and began to decline in 1992; in addition, non-firearm-related homicide rates decreased, and the percentage of firearm-related homicides increased. During 1985-1994, the percentage of firearm-related homicides among all homicides in the total population increased from 60% to 72% and among persons aged 15-24 years, from 67% to 87%’ (Trends in Rates of Homicide – the United States, 1981-1994, 1996).

The US Department of Justice (DOJ), also supports the statistics about the steadily growing rates of homicide within the territory of the USA, emphasizing that the regional structure of homicide rates is also highly diverse. For example, the Pacific region in which Seattle is located is known for having a level of homicide above average for more than 20 years, but falling below the national average figure in 1998 (Fox and Zawitz, 2007: 72).

Concluding generally from the represented data, it is possible to bring out a hypothesis that the excessive availability of crime facilitators such as firearms leads to increased crime rates with the use of these types of weapons. In addition, the influential factor that is going to be examined for consistency in the present research is the role of liberal or strict legislation concerning access to crime facilitators in the changes in crime rates in the USA and Canada, based on the example of Seattle and Vancouver.

Purpose of the study

The present study is targeted at several aims. The first one is to check the consistency of the earlier research conducted by Sloan, Kellerman and Reay (1988), dedicated to the investigation of the disproportionate increases in the homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver. The main basis the researchers used for grounding their hypothesis and further proof thereof, was the difference in legislation in the two discussed cities – judging from strict and liberal laws pertaining to handgun possession, Sloan et al. (1988) made their assumptions concerning the probable causes of unequal homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver, the former being much higher than the latter in this stipulated sphere.

Since the major emphasis was made on the impact of legislation, the aim of the present research is to either confirm the results’ efficiency for the modern reality or to dispute them, considering a number of other variables that may also be of a certain effect on the homicide rates in the chosen two cities.

The second aim pertains to the consideration of much broader factors that may presumably produce a certain impact on the homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver. These factors will be expanded from legislation to social, economic, cultural and other indicators, thus helping to create a comprehensive image of patterns of life in two North American cities similar in geography, structure and demographic characteristics. This aim also includes facilitating the understanding of the concepts of crime, handguns and their impact on the social life in Seattle and Vancouver through the prism of different attitudes to these concepts in the USA and Canada.

Making logical inferences from the difference in legislative measures concerning firearm acquisition, possession and the procedures to obtain licenses for them, the third aim of the study is to prove the direct correlation of legislative measures and reduced access to firearms and thereby reducing the rate of these homicides.

Research problems

In November 1988, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study by Sloan, Kellermann, and Reay, entitled ‘Handgun regulations, crime, assaults, and homicide: A tale of two cities’. The study consisted of an examination of the rates of various types of crime in Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, BC from 1980 through 1986. The study reported that Seattle had about a 16 percent higher rate of aggravated assault i.e., with weapon or injury, but that the rate of assault with firearms, was about 7 times higher.

The per capita homicide rate was about 1.28 to 2.08 times higher in Seattle than in Vancouver. The study reported that virtually all of the excess risk in Seattle was ‘explained by a 4.8-fold higher risk of being murdered with a handgun in Seattle’. The study concluded that restricting access to handguns may reduce the rate of homicide in a community (Sloan, Kellermann, Reay, 1988).

In May 1996 the 190 nations of the United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO) passed a resolution declaring violence, including murder, a worldwide public health problem, urging member states to assess the public health impact of violence, and requesting the Director-General of WHO to initiate a science-based public health approach to violence prevention. This resolution provides a scientific framework for action throughout the world addressing global violence.

Considering everything said thus far, the range of problems considered by the present research lies within the scope of crime rates in the USA and Canada on the example of the cities of Seattle and Vancouver, namely homicide rates caused by firearms and other means. The focus of the study is made on the premises that there are core differences in the attitudes towards firearms permits in the two countries, which are reflected in the national, state and local legislation.

It is argued that the USA has lower caution measures and adopts a policy of increased access to handguns, an easier procedure of obtaining a license and a larger list of citizens eligible for obtaining them, thus revealing its democratic principle of everyone’s right to self-defense (Agresti, 2008). In contrast with the USA, Canada has adopted a stricter legislative posture, to obtain firearms, which is reflected in the 1977, 1995 and 1998 legislative acts restricting access to firearms and making the procedure for obtaining or renewing a license harder. In general, strict gun control was seen as the major public policy in the discussed context during the 1990s (Hartnagel, 2002: 403).

These varying policies, when compared, show a clear distinction in attitudes revealed in the legislation pertaining to firearms possession, which could not help but affect the crime rates in the two discussed cities accordingly. This assumption may be supported by the results of statistical analysis conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) published in 1996 and proving that;

[in] all regions of Canada, there has been a steady decline in firearm homicides since the 1977 legislation was implemented…the results of the exploratory and time-series analyses suggest that the 1977 legislative amendments have had some impacts… the 1977 amendments have reduced the rate of homicides in Canada by approximately 55 per year’ (RCMP Departmental Release, 1996).

In the USA, on the contrary, strict measures for gun possession control contradict the democratic perceived principle where ‘Americans use firearms to defend themselves from criminals at least 764,000 times a year’ and 34% of criminals who are in prison have been captured with the help of an armed victim they unsuccessfully directed their offense at’(Agresti, 2008).

Homicide rates as the focus of investigation and statistical analysis of the present research seem to be credible evidence linking the possession of firearms (both legal and illegal) with the rate of legislative tolerance towards guns possession, thus with the rate of their use resulting in human victims. Therefore, the problem to be investigated is the close interrelation of the three characteristics shaping the integral vision of homicide; reasons, tendencies and rates.

Objectives of the study

The prime objective of the present research is the objective assessment of the existing difference between Seattle and Vancouver, in homicide rates by all means and by firearms in particular in order to try to draw a reasonable correlation between the ease of access to firearms and the increased rates of homicide. The objectives of the study do not include making any moral assumptions about the propriety of pro-gun or anti-gun lobbying because of the contentious dilemma not being relevant to the scope of the current study. Only objective statistical data, empirical and theoretical research findings will be considered for making practical conclusions about the correlation of data.

Another objective pursued by the present study is to define the correlation of the homicide rate with other variables besides increased or restricted access to firearms. To be more precise, the communities of Seattle and Vancouver will be investigated on the basis of the change to the overall homicide rates relating to access to firearms. This additional investigation is aimed at finding out whether homicide rates tend to rely on the ready availability of firearms, or whether other means of committing a homicide will be increasingly used under the condition of restricted access to firearms.

Significance/Justification of the study

The present study pertains directly to the course materials of the University of Leicester, Department of Criminology. The study of crime causation is the core essence of the MSc in Security and Risk Management. The course materials primarily dealt with crime in society and the workplace, crime facilitators, crime controllers, rational choice perspectives and the possibility of crime prevention (University of Leicester, Modules, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6). Consequently, it is fully possible to draw a conclusion that the present research is fully relevant to the course of study and to the present-day situation.

The choice of the topic was also facilitated by increased access to materials essential for conducting the present research by the author of the project. The author worked in the Seattle Police department and was a homicide detective and is now a war crimes investigator for the United Nations, and is thus was able to access most relevant materials pertaining to the study and ensure their credibility and accuracy.

Scope of the study

The process of stipulating the scope of the study involved consideration of the whole multiplicity of sources available for consideration in connection with the chosen objects of research. Paying adequate attention to the specificity of the present study, the researcher’s personal interest and objectives, statistical sources on the national, regional and local scale were thoroughly considered and evaluated. Additionally, the criminal codes of the USA, Canada, Washington State and the City of Seattle, as well as their constitutions, legislation acts, regulations and other relevant state provisions were also the subjects of consideration in this study.

Conceptual Framework

The present conceptual framework is built on three theoretical basics that will be analyzed in the present section. They all deal with the individual and social reasons for committing a crime and provide a deeper and broader vision of the problem of crime in society. Such theories as ‘situational control’, ‘situational crime prevention and ‘rational choice perspective’ have become the focus of the present research.

They have been chosen to ensure that not only the statistical and legislative view on the problem is taken into account while analyzing findings and making conclusions from them, but the human factor is also viewed as an important variable in the crime rates consideration. Despite crime being viewed as rough statistics in the present dissertation, it is still necessary to understand that crimes are committed due to certain circumstances, due to some inner incentives that drive the criminal towards a crime and shape his vision of his actions. Thus, in the present section one may find three most relevant theories trying to find objective and subjective reasons for committing a crime known in criminology.

In 1982 Downes and Rock developed and postulated a theory of ‘situational control’ holding that offenders made judgments regarding the act in question, their perceptions of criminal activity were considered as well as moral judgments regarding the act in question, criminal opportunities and the risk assessment of being caught (Downes and Rock, 2007).

Despite the existing criticism of the theory stated to be narrowing the scope of criminological hypotheses, the authors argue that it only expands its possibilities. They justify the point by several considerations:

  • the explanation of crime being focused more on the criminal case;
  • explanations of particular categories of crime are made more explicit;
  • the theory has more advantages as compared to ‘dispositional’ theories because of an individual’s current circumstances and immediate characteristics of the crime setting being given more importance in the explanatory aspect (Downes and Rock, 2007: 211).

The authors heavily emphasize the importance of situational crime prevention (SCP) laid out by Clarke in 1977 and note that ‘measures for crime prevention have two linked emphases: reducing the physical opportunities for offending and increasing the risk of an offender being caught’ (Downes and Rock, 2007: 211). In this context, they closely examine Laycock’s study (2001) of ‘acceptance of the advice of police officers on target hardening’ that resulted in the dramatic reduction of pharmacy burglaries, and research of Bennet and Wright (1984) that showed the direct correlation between the visual easiness of trespass and the decision to commit a burglary.

The whole work of Downes and Rock (2007) is devoted to the search for the reasoning of crimes and finding all hidden and explicit incentives that criminals face and follow on their way to delinquency. Considering the work of Gottfredson and Hirschi entitled ‘A general theory of crime’ published in 1990, they lay out the main assumptions of authors devoted to possible origins of crime.

Their hypothesis is that crime is deeply rooted in such innate characteristics as low self-control and derives from the wish of a criminal to achieve quick pleasure because of his inability to get it by other means. A crime is first of all the expression of power over others, this is why people who do not have sympathy towards people they affect this way, who want to satisfy their immediate whims and desires at the particular moment and who tend to engage in criminal activity (Downes and Rock, 2007: 221).

Low self-control, in turn, is associated with a lack of discipline, training, or nurturing and those are properties vested in a number of institutions, including schools, friendship groups and the family and its child-rearing practices. Successful socialization hinges on someone caring enough for a child to monitor his or her behavior, identifying deviance when it occurs and punishing that deviance in a consistent and appropriate manner’ (Downes and Rock, 2007: 221).

In 1986, Cornish and Clarke developed this further into the ‘Rational Choice Perspective’ (RCP), holding that people, when considering the commission of a crime, make very rational choices about whether or not to commit the offense. According to Cornish and Clarke, this is purposeful behavior designed to meet the offender’s commonplace needs for such things as money, status, sex and excitement, and that meeting these needs involves the making of sometimes rudimentary decisions and choices (Cornish and Clarke, 1986).

The RCT views offending behavior as involving decision making and the making of choices, which are constrained by time, cognitive ability and information, resulting in a ‘limited’ rather than ‘normal’ rationality for the offender. The premise is that the decisions and factors that affect offender decision making vary greatly at both the different stages of the offense and among different offenses’ (Rational Choice Theory, 2004).

In fact, the theory of Cornish and Clarke turned out to be revolutionary in the context of perceiving delinquent behavior. Conventionally it was considered to be unique, abnormal, unnatural and not reasonable, which was contradicted by the researchers in their rational choice model. In the course of their study they generated a set of findings:

  • the prime motives of criminals are absolutely commonplace, normal nature and do not contain any pathologies (Cornish and Clarke, 1986: 6);
  • the rational choice perspective focuses more on similarities criminals and non-criminals have than on their differences; it closely examines rational, justifiable aspects of a crime (Cornish and Clarke, 1986: vi);
  • the theory initially introduces the assumption that crime cannot be generalized and categorized broadly – on the contrary, it requires specificity and uniqueness in approach, judging about every case individually (Cornish and Clarke, 1986: 6);
  • the focus of the RCP is mainly made not on the individual characteristics of the offender but on the essence of the criminal event itself for the sake of producing an objective, comprehensive judgment (Cornish and Clarke, 1986: vi).

Whilst contract killers might wake up in the morning and make the rational choice about whom they may kill that day, it’s reasonable to assume (and statistics support this assertion) that most offenders who commit murder do not fall into the Rational Choice Perspective model. Most murders are not premeditated. Intentionally killing a person is not like selecting a suitable house to burglarize. Criticism of Clarke and Cornish’s Situational Crime Control model included assertions that serious crimes were less likely to be reduced by situational crime control methods because they did not occur because of the seeming easiness of killing a person – they took place without the person’s control or due to the natural predisposition of a criminal to committing such grave offenses.

Serious crimes like homicide cannot generally be prevented because of their specificity – they do not depend on crime facilitators because people who want to kill a person and have a gun will do it with the help of a gun; those who do not have a gun will attempt to do it by other means, but very few facilitators are as lethal as firearms and the advances in emergency medical care cannot also be ignored. Killing a person is a very serious misdeed so it cannot be judged as a regular offense – it requires absolutely different measures for consideration.

Can homicide be prevented, unlikely, but can it be reduced? Very likely and Canada’s strict gun control legislation is a prime example, where regulation and strict penalties for gun possession and use have reduced gun-related deaths throughout the country.

The United States Department of Justice, National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJ) conducted a study published in July 2001 (NCJ 190120) where the impact of Canada’s Bill C-51 was examined. The study examined gun control, in light of C-51 legislation in Canada and its impact on homicide. The study concluded;

[t]he results indicated that the passage of Bill C-51 was associated with a decline in the overall homicide rate, a non-significant decline in the firearms homicide rate, no increase in the homicide rate by all other methods and a non-significant reduction in the percentage of homicides committed by guns’ (NCJ 190120).

Situational Crime Prevention, developed by Ronald Clarke in 1977, forcibly argues, and this dissertation will use this framework to assert that situational crime prevention methods could work in reducing highly specific forms of crime, including serious crimes like murder, by increasing the risk of getting caught, i.e. crime controllers and by reducing crime facilitators, i.e. firearms, by depriving the offender the ability to carry out the offense.

Clarke (1997) continues his research on the issues of crime opportunity-reducing techniques by means of the application of ‘situational measures’ and ‘preventive technology developments’. His work ‘Situational Crime Prevention’ of 1997 is again dedicated to working out techniques of crime prevention and enriching their scope. His theoretical inferences rest on two main concepts – ‘diffusion of benefits’ (focused crime prevention efforts can sometimes bring benefits beyond the targeted settings) and ‘repeat victimization’ (helps to focus crime prevention effort) (Clarke, 1997: viii).

Clarke asserts that his SCP theory has found many applications that assist communities in the crime rates reduction enormously. The author also seeks an explanation of the failure of previous criminological activities to build up an efficient crime prevention framework:

Most criminological theories have been concerned with explaining why certain individuals or groups, exposed to particular psychological or social influences, or with particular inherited traits, are more likely to become involved in delinquency or crime. But this is not the same as explaining why crime occurs. The commission of a crime requires not merely the existence of a motivated offender, but, as every detective story reader knows, it also requires the opportunity for crime’ (Clarke, 1997: 2).

The opportunity for crime mentioned in the quotation has been the focus of Clarke’s work and can be viewed in Figure 3. After giving out the brief explanation of the essence of SCP Clarke enumerates its four elements: a theoretical foundation pertaining to everyday activity and rational choice approaches; a standard methodology grounded on the action research; opportunity-reducing techniques; and evaluated practice, namely studies of displacement (Clarke, 1997: 6).

The result of the difficult, time-consuming work of Clarke and others was embodied in the list of twenty-five opportunity-reducing techniques that are primarily aimed at achieving five preventive effects: increasing perceived effort, increasing perceived risks, reducing anticipated rewards and removing excuses (Clarke, 1997, p. 22). The detailed information about each technique together with the illustration thereof on a set of examples may be seen in Figure 4.

Literature Review

Definition of Homicide, Firearms and Handguns in Both Jurisdictions

One of the central peculiarities of attitude to homicide, firearms and handguns in both examined countries, of Seattle and Vancouver is the legislative basis for consideration of these issues embodied in the main state or national legislative enactments. To understand the mentioned concepts one has to acquire a basic, comprehensive understanding of the three main concepts of the present dissertation. Therefore, it will be necessary to examine the Criminal Code of Canada and the Revised Code of Washington. These two statues contain detailed definitions of homicide and firearms and stipulate the measure of the availability of different types thereof for different categories of population of these two countries.

The first concept to be reviewed is homicide. According to the official definition from the Revised Code of Washington (RCW),

Homicide is the killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another, death occurring at any time, and is either:

  1. murder,
  2. homicide by abuse,
  3. manslaughter,
  4. excusable homicide, or
  5. justifiable homicide’ (RCW 9A.32.010).

Homicide, according to the RCW, may be committed in different ways and it is defined as murder in the first and second degree, homicide with abuse, manslaughter in the first and second degree and criminally negligent homicide.. Murder in the first degree is the case of the intended cause of death of a person or death caused by the extreme indifference to the value of human life. Homicide is considered murder in the first degree in cases where the death occurred when it was committed during a robbery, rape in the first degree, sodomy in the first degree, or arson or burglary in the first and second degree and kidnapping in the first degree. It is classified by law as a class A felony, punishable by 20 years in prison to life in imprisonment (RCW 9A.32.030).

Punishment presupposed by the US law for murder in the first degree is life imprisonment except in the case of aggravated murder for which capital punishment can be imposed (RCW 9A.32.050).

Murder in the second degree is committed under the same circumstances but without premeditation or the intent to cause death (RCW 9A.32.055). It is also a class A felony, but with a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. Circumstances other than those accompanying murders in the first and second degree are classified as Manslaughter, or Criminally negligent homicide and homicide by abuse:

A person is guilty of homicide by abuse if, under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life, the person causes the death of a child or person under sixteen years of age, a developmentally disabled person, or a dependent adult, and the person has previously engaged in a pattern or practice of assault or torture of a said child, person under sixteen years of age, developmentally disabled person, or dependent person’ (RCW 9A.32.055).

Manslaughter in the first degree presupposes causation of death of another person due to certain reckless actions or death of an unborn child through injuries to a pregnant woman (RCW 9A.32.070). The former is a class A felony, while the latter is classified as a class B felony, with a sentence of up to ten years in prison.

Criminally negligent homicide can be charged when the actor, is aware of, and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk and engages in conduct that causes the death of another human being (RCW. 9A.32.085). This is characteristically ‘drunk driving’, or the death of persons when firearms are fired into the air, killing another person unintentionally.

The criminal code of Canada (CCC), offers a bit different classification of homicides. The definition given to homicide presupposes the causation of death to a human being by any means, directly and indirectly. Homicide can be culpable (murder, manslaughter or infanticide) or not culpable (which does not constitute an offense, such as justifiable homicide) (CCC, 222).

Culpable homicide includes unlawful actions, negligence, or threatening violence to people or willful frightening of people belonging to a vulnerable group of the population causing their death (CCC, 222). Deaths are classified in a more detailed way: death that might have been prevented, death from the treatment of injury, acceleration of death, killing by influence on the mind, premeditation, etc.

Murder as one of kind of homicide is defined as the causation of death by intent or due to indifference to the value of human life, thus causing death. It can be classified as murder in the commission of serious offenses, planned and deliberate murder, contracted murder, murder of a peace officer, hijacking an aircraft, sexual assault or kidnapping, criminal harassment, murder during terrorist activity, intimidation, etc. (CCC, 229-230). All these types of murder presuppose different measures of punishment and belong to different categories of felonies.

Canada also defines manslaughter as another type of culpable homicide that involves the killing a person under the circumstances of provocation, strong emotions or the state of affection (CCC, 231). Infanticide involves the causation of death by a woman to her newly-born child due to the particular after-birth condition and neglect (CCC, 233). Proceeding to punishment for murder, the Canadian criminal code presupposes life imprisonment. Infanticide is punished by a sentence not more than 5 years, while manslaughter is punished by law depending on the circumstances – from 1-4 years of imprisonment to life imprisonment (CCC, 235-237).

The next concept to be compared is the definition given to handguns in both countries. First Canada, one should consider the following definition. In the Criminal Code of Canada, a handgun is defined as;

a [handgun]’ is a firearm that is designed, altered or intended to be aimed and fired by the action of one hand, whether or not it has been redesigned or subsequently altered to be aimed and fired by the action of both hands’ (CCC, 84).

The revised code of Washington does not include any particular definition of handguns, but it enumerates such kinds of firearms as pistols, rifles, short-barreled rifles, shotguns, short-barreled shotguns, machine guns and antique firearms (RCW). In Canada, firearms have many implications for possession and restrictions. Thus, it is important to consider firearms that, according to the prime law of Canada, are banned:

  • a handgun that
    • has a barrel equal to or less than 105 mm in length, or
    • is designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32 caliber cartridge;
  • a firearm that is adapted from a rifle or shotgun, whether by sawing, cutting or any other alteration, and that, as so adapted,
    • is less than 660 mm in length, or
    • is 660 mm or greater in length and has a barrel less than 457 mm in length;
  • an automatic firearm, whether or not it has been altered to discharge only one projectile with one pressure of the trigger, or
  • any firearm that is prescribed to be a prohibited firearm’ (CCC, 84).

Turning to the USA, the RCW stipulates the following restrictions on the possession and usage of firearms: people who were previously convicted of a crime, those who underwent mental treatment as an inpatient, as well as under-aged persons (except some particular cases), cannot carry and keep firearms (RCW 9.41.040). No information on available or forbidden kinds of firearms is evident in the RCW, with the exception of sawed-off shotguns and fully automatic machine guns, which presuppose much more liberty in firearm possession.

Background of Research

The prime source for considering the background of research in the sphere of crime, homicide and firearms in Canada and the USA is the work of O’Leary (1999) summarizing all key findings on the history of gun control legislation and statistics from 1990 to 1998.

The first work O’Leary turns the reader’s attention to is the one of Bartlett (1990) dedicated to the comparative analysis of gun control actions taken by the government of the USA, the UK and Canada and assessment of results the introduction of these regulations brought about. The report of Block (1997) also directly pertains to the present comparative analysis of gun control trends in the USA and Canada since it measures such indicators as firearms ownership and victimization in Canada and eight other countries including the USA according to the structure of the International Crime (Victims) Survey 1996.

One more comprehensive international study on homicide, suicide and firearm-related death (with the focus on children) was conducted in 1997 in 26 countries, again including the USA and Canada. The results showed the USA overwhelming leading the studied countries in childhood homicide, with the rates being five times higher than all other countries. It is also worth considering the point that figure included the total number of homicides, with fire-arms-related homicide rate exceeding the average by sixteen times (Centers for Disease Control, 1997).

One more highly relevant work for the present discussion is the work of Gabor (1997) dedicated to the issue of firearms and self-defense. The study is a comprehensive, multi-faceted research that was conducted to compare the level of gun ownership, cases of application of guns for self-protection as well as cases of gun misuse in the USA and the Canada.

Several works were also considered in a narrowed scope on the subject of homicide rates and tendencies. The works reviewed by O’Leary in this respect include the works of Blackmann (1997), Centerwall (1991) and Kellerman et al. (1993).

Blackman (1997) mainly directs his attempts at evaluating the epistemological approach to studying firearms and homicide. He argues that the majority of studies, do not conform to the methodological basis and therefore should be questioned on the subject of their credibility. Centerwall’s study of 1991 is devoted to the statistical analysis of homicide rates in the USA and Canada from 1976 to 1980 with the purpose of finding a correlation between homicides and the level of handgun possessions. The study was focused on the adjourning territories of the USA and Canada indicating a fairly equal level of both variables. However, the study was not limited by drawing a parallel between the two mentioned characteristics and included a critical analysis of other nations in search of a reasonable explanation of the discussed phenomenon.

Finally, the study of Kellerman et al. (1993) considers firearms as a rich factor contributing to the probability of a homicide. On the basis of multiple research methods including focus groups surveys, questionnaires and examination of reports from the crime scene indicated that the common perception of a gun kept in the household was not associated with self-defense and increased safety. On the contrary, in the majority of cases, the main association was drawn towards violence and homicide in these same households.

One more major source for background research for the topic was the work of Sloan et al. (1988) who conducted a comparative survey in Seattle and Vancouver on a number of variables: statistics of people killed annually, firearm regulations of both cities, rates of gun ownership, identification and definition of cases. The researchers also thoroughly considered socio-economic characteristics together with the racial and ethnic composition of Seattle and Vancouver because of their conclusion that homicide rates in the low-income layers of society occurred on a much more frequent basis (Sloan et al., 1988).

The mentioned survey was intensely criticized for its inconsistency and the wrong choice of variables being inefficient for conducting the research scientists aimed at:

The doctors tried to argue that the rate of handgun possession in Seattle was far higher than in Vancouver…Their “proof” was a comparison of the number of concealed carry permits in Seattle vs. the number of registered handguns in Vancouver. Use of the second measure…would naturally lead to an indication of correlation of gun prevalence with crime since it would actually be comparing crime rates with themselves’ (Violence Inside and Outside the Home, 1999).

Despite such criticism of the study by Sloan et al. (1988) the statistics they analyzed and inferences they made, still seem to be true for the former and current situation in Seattle and Vancouver, so the research of 1988 served as a prime reliable source and actually the incentive to continue their survey and refer it to a later period.

Gun Control Legislation and Gun Culture

The United States, Canada, Washington State and British Columbia have two, diametrically opposed gun control legislation, attitudes and gun cultures. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted as part of the Bill of Rights 1791, states inter alia:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed’ (U.S. Bill of Rights, 1791).

Another characteristic legislative document that has to be viewed from the point of view of gun culture in the USA is the Washington State Constitution that was adopted in 1889. It is bound by the US constitution and states, inter alia:

The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men’ (WSC, Section 24).

The nurtured freedom of personality and the right to self-defense resulted in the growing need for gun permits in the USA at the end of the 20th century. If, according to statistics, in 1986 the laws allowing average citizens to carry guns were enacted only in 9 states. Then 1998, additional enacted legislation brought about the same rights in 31 states, which tends to suggest the extreme loyalty towards firearms in the USA (Agresti, 2008).

One more issue to be considered in this respect is the case of Cherry vs. Seattle – it pertains to the discussed question in particular and to the rules and permits in carrying weapons in general – the case came to the Washington State Supreme Court in 1991 and concerned the decision of the Seattle Court about the discharge of the metro bus driver employee carrying a concealed weapon. The Seattle Metro pursued the no-weapon policy and considered the driver’s conduct a grave misdeed; however, as soon as this case came to the Washington State Supreme Court, they ruled that the Supreme Law of the country (the US Constitution) did not forbid the carrying or firearms for any US citizen eligible for this right. Thus, the case assumed the violation of state law by issuing the local law on no-weapon policy and found Cherry not guilty (Cherry vs. Seattle, 1991, p. 6).

Judging from this case, it is possible to make an additional inference about the gun legislation in the USA – even under specific conditions, it is impossible to restrict carrying arms due to the regulation stipulated in the US Bill of Rights (1791). Most important in the Cherry v. Seattle decision by the Washington State Supreme court was that for the first time, municipalities were bound to change the procedures for issuing concealed weapons permits. The wording in the law was changed from ‘may issue weapons permits’ to ‘shall issue weapons permits to its citizen’ (provided certain qualifications were adhered to). (Ibid)

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.41.070 allows Washington Cities to adopt ordinances for the issuance of Concealed Weapons Permits (CCW) as an inherent right under the State and Federal Constitutions. The Seattle City Council adopted an ordinance of Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 117157 on 09 May 1994 authorizing the police department (now the King County Sheriff’s office) to issue CCW permits to its citizens, provided them:

  1. had not been convicted of a crime;
  2. had not been institutionalized in a mental facility;
  3. had not been convicted of any domestic violence offense.

Applicants must be fingerprinted and a thirty-day waiting period for a criminal background check must be completed. After the issuance of the permit, citizens may carry a concealed firearm on their person and in their vehicles. There are certain prohibitions to carrying concealed weapons, i.e. public meetings, liquor-licensed establishments, courthouses, schools and universities, etc. (SMC 12.14.080). The ordinance controls the issuing and carrying of concealed firearms in public, not in one’s own private dwelling. A permit is not required to possess a handgun at home. Interestingly to note, that same year, 1991 and 1992, Seattle experienced it’s worst ever homicide rate by the use of handguns, with 44 victims recorded. See figure 12.

The Canadian constitution has no such privileges granted its citizens as does the US Constitution and in fact, has introduced strict gun control legislation and aggressive enforcement on it’s territory. British Columbia is bound under Canadian Federal legislation Bill C-51, 1977, which introduced statutory regulations for all Provinces, including British Columbia, stipulating that; anyone who wishes to acquire a firearm must first obtain a Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC). Possession of a valid FAC entitled its holder to legally purchase any non-restricted or restricted firearm. Any FAC could be refused if an applicant had:

  1. a criminal record for any violent offense within the previous five years
  2. had been treated for a mental disorder involving violence; and
  3. has a history of any other violent behavior (Firearms Act, 1995).

In 1991, Canadian Federal legislation, the title ‘Bill C-17’, was introduced and largely strengthened many of the 1977 measures, including more stringent and detailed FAC screening procedures, which involved:

  1. applicants having to provide a personal photograph and personal references;
  2. a mandatory 28 day waiting period to obtain a FAC;
  3. expanding the application form for the purpose that the applicant had to provide more information.
  4. that applicants must successfully pass a course concerning the safe handing of firearms (Carter, 2002: 99).

The bill also increased the penalties for firearm-related crimes, created new Criminal Code offenses, in line with Clarke’s 1997’s situational Crime Control, ‘increasing risk’ of getting caught.

In 1998, Canada passed even tougher gun control legislation, replacing the FAC with two types of permits needed to possess or acquire a firearm. These were referred as the Possession Only License (POL) and Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). At the present moment, the procedure of obtaining a POL or PAL to be able to have a firearm in a household, vehicle or on ones person is a complicated and time-consuming procedure. Since a huge number of accidents involving the misuse of firearms occurred in the previous years, suggesting the need to pay more attention to the training courses and compliance of the applicant with the requirements of acquired level of training, the POL/ PAL application form, mandates the key training programs one has to accomplish to have the right to apply for different types of licenses:

If you are applying for a Possession and Acquisition License (PAL) for non-restricted firearms, you must have passed the test for the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC). If you are applying for a PAL for restricted firearms, you must have passed two safety tests: the CFSC and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (CRFSC)’ (Application Sheet, 2009: 1).

Besides being compliable with all requirements mentioned above, there is additional requirements for checking the personality of the applicant. The Chief firearms officer in the nine provinces in Canada, has statutory authority to conduct interviews with people who are close to the applicant, for example, members of his or her family, their children, neighbors and colleagues, etc. This can be done for the purpose of obtaining as much information as possible about the applicant, so that sounds decisions can be made, justifying the issuance of a POL/PAL to the applicant (Bartlett, N.D.).

Homicide Rates in the USA and Canada

The section dedicated to homicide rates in the USA and Canada is mainly based on statistical data and theoretical considerations published by the Commissioner of Firearms (Canada) in his 2007 report and, additionally, statistics about the trends in rates of homicide that were published in 1996 by the US Department of Health and Human Services. These two theoretical sources discuss the main issue relevant for the present work – the trends, figures and statistical characteristics as well as their changes within a previous couple of decades. In addition, the author traveled to Seattle to make personal contact with former colleagues in the Seattle Police in the planning, research, development, and crime analyst section and obtained unique access to, homicide and weapons permit data.

Those statistics will be discussed further in chapter 4, but needless to say, a quick glance at Figure12 graphically illustrates the disproportionately higher number of murders committed by firearms in Seattle, compared to that of Vancouver.

Concerning the situation in the USA, the article claims the tendencies in the firearm-related homicide rates to be heterogeneous, changing from one period to another one:

Since 1985, national homicide rates have increased sharply, especially firearm-related homicides and homicides among persons aged 15-24 years. However, based on data from the Supplementary Homicide Report compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and reports from some cities, homicide rates have been stable or declining since 1993’ (Trends in Rates of Homicide – the United States, 1985-1994, 1996).

This tendency seems rather strange taking into consideration the fact that the range of available firearms for personal disposal was gradually expanding and the legislation became more liberal concerning the carrying and possession of firearms of different kinds. However, the figures may be explained by the fact that people grew more civilized and got used to possession of firearms on a normal, ordinary basis rather than using them in every critical situation. The trends that have been traced by the authors of this article can be seen in Figures 1 and 2.

On the basis of this article’s findings, it is possible to draw a conclusion that the tendency of increased access to firearms, first brought about the alarming increase in firearm-related homicide rates, but further on, the dramatic increase in violence raised the question of the necessity of public health intervention. The attempts were directed at multiple spheres of human activities such as education, social sciences, etc. Increased attention was paid to such aspects as individual education, formation of the nation’s vision of firearms and the system of proper attitudes towards their possession and use as well as formation of a healthy social, political and physical environment (Trends in Rates of Homicide – the United States, 1985-1994, 1996).

At the present moment, taking into proper consideration the events in the USA and growing violence, as well as homicide rates in the country, the situation has been recognized as a nationwide serious public health problem. Consequently, joint actions have been continuously taken by the USA and other countries to overcome the problem in its growing scale and figures.

Examining the situation in Canada, it is necessary to note that the first legislative act concerning possession of handguns was the Criminal Code of Canada adopted in 1892. According to this legislation, a person could be put in jail for the unauthorized carrying of a gun in a public place for a period of up to half a year because of the potential threat to the health and safety of other citizens. ‘Certificate of exemption’, was the basic permission needed by a person to carry a gun, and no one could sell a gun to a person under the age of 16. These were the main crimes presupposed by the law and people had increased access to handguns and other kinds of firearms (2007 Report, 2008: 2).

Another major milestone of Canadian legislation in connection with firearms possession regulation was Bill C-51 (1977) which introduced many changes in the scheme of overall attitude and penalties towards firearms and the procedure of their acquisition in Canada. As a result of the adoption of the bill, such changes as the waiting period upon the application for firearm possession increased gravity of penalties for firearm-related crimes and regulations on possession and storage were created (2007 Report, 2008:2).

The next stage of making Canadian legislation stricter towards firearms possession was the adoption of the Firearms Act of 1995. The full title of the document was Bill C-68: Act Regulating Firearms and Other Weapons. This document introduced the final elements to the contemporary image of Canada firearms-related legislation – it includes criteria for assessment of firearms and categorizing them as restricted or permitted ones, the procedure of acquisition, licensing and registering the firearms in Canada as well as possibilities and circumstances for their use (2007 Report, 2008:2). Stricter obligations are also imposed in the sphere of safety training that people have to pass in order to be able to apply for a firearm license.

Hence, at the present moment, it is possible to say that the legislation in Canada has taken into account the much more hazardous aspects of firearm possession and authoritative bodies of Canada responsible for the firearm registration, licensing and renewal of licenses as well as other procedures in this sphere have a much wider range of authority then those in the USA. These bodies in Canada include the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Firearms Center (CAFC) and the Chief Firearms Officers, as well as local law enforcement. (2007 Report, 2008: 1).


Research design/methodology

In the scope of conducting the present research, a number of considerations have been undertaken while making a decision on the methods to be chosen to produce the most efficient results. The researcher, in order to answer the research questions comprehensively, will use a variety of qualitative research methods.

First of all, the history of both countries gun culture and gun control will be examined so that the reader understands the set of differences in the perception of permissible gun access rates acceptable by the nations and governments of both countries and the usual conventions connected with carrying a gun and defending oneself with the help of a firearm. This understanding will further enhance the reader’s perception of the core differences in legislation affecting homicide rates, over several decades and shaping the country’s criminal profile.

The methodology of the present dissertation encompasses several stages of data collection and analysis, thus requiring different types of actions that must be taken to achieve the expected results. The first stage will involve conducting an extensive theoretical research aimed at gathering the relevant information about legislation and basic concepts on which the considerations of the present work will rest. Relevant legislation of both countries pertaining to gun control will be revised and analyzed with the purpose of obtaining the most relevant amount of information concerning crime controllers enacted in Canada and the USA.

At this stage such legislative acts and laws as such as the RCW, the United States Constitution and the Washington State Constitution will be reviewed as valuable sources of discussed data pertaining to the US, while the CCC, the Canadian Federal Legislation Bill C-51 and the Firearms Act will serve as prime theoretical sources for the same data about Canada.

In addition, the conceptual framework of the dissertation will be shaped around three main criminological assumptions considered in the present work – the ‘situational control’ paradigm, the ‘rational choice perspective’ and the ‘situational crime prevention’. These assumptions will be important when assessing the impact of legislation on the perception of the US and Canadian population and drawing parallels between these lawful actions and homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver.

The next stage will include obtaining quantitative statistical data on homicide rates in both the USA and Canada, with further narrowing the research focus to Seattle and Vancouver statistical indicators. In this respect such sources as the Canadian Firearms Action Council Statistics, the British Columbia Coroner’s Homicide Data statistics, the City of Seattle homicide data statistics, the King County Police Department concealed permits data and British Columbia weapons data for both cities will become relevant sources of data for consideration, evaluation and making rational correlations and inferences.

Sampling techniques

Sampling techniques chosen for the present study were stipulated in the process of considering the time expenditures and level of access to statistical materials essential for the present study. It was also necessary to align sampling deriving from the results expected from the study without infringing on their accuracy and completeness. With these considerations in mind, it was decided to choose two cities, Seattle and Vancouver that suited the choice according to a set of variable intended for examination and investigation to prove or dispute the hypothesis of the present research.

Finally, the sampling decision was dictated by the multiple similarities in the geographical position of the two cities, their population composition, and approximate equality in size and life patterns. Seattle and Vancouver share many traits in common, are situated not far from each other, thus belonging to one geographical region and allowing to make certain theoretical and empirical generalizations.

Besides, the choice of cities for examination and checking of the hypothesis was dictated by the prior research conducted by Sloan et al. in 1988 and serving as the ultimate goal for checking as well – these researchers chose the same two cities and conducted their research using information about Seattle and Vancouver, assuming the rate of homicide in the USA being much higher according to a set of variables stipulated as the baseline for analysis. Logically, the present research aimed at checking the results of research by Sloan et al. (1988) and ensuring whether the tendency is continued or not.

Data collection methods

In the present research processes, there were two sources of data relevant for consideration: primary sources included in the statistical data from various authorized agencies and governmental bodies both in the USA and Canada. Secondary sources consisted of numerous legislative acts and firearms reduction policies in both countries. Secondary sources included the critical analysis of formal procedures for obtaining a license for firearms or the renewing of them. Archived homicide and death rates for both jurisdictions were obtained, most of them being open source documents.

In the process of conducting secondary research, the author searched for theoretical information concerning legislation in the USA and Canada, pertaining to gun control and accessibility of firearms in Seattle as well as Vancouver. Additionally, the author sought information about national US and Canada legislation on the issue to construct a more general framework of attitude to gun control and possession for different kinds of firearms in these two countries. In this respect, criminal codes of both countries, the RCW and the Canadian Firearms Act of 1995 were very helpful and provided the majority of relevant information.

Primary data collection method was designed to obtain updated, accurate and complete information on some empirical issues pertaining to the research, namely, the statistical data on homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver. The choice of primary data collection was shaped due to the privileged access to the mentioned sources of information, as the author has a unique access to the data from the Seattle Police department.

The author worked for the Seattle police from 1984 to 1999 and prior to that, was a homicide detective for 7 years in the State of Oregon and now works as a War Crimes investigator for the United Nations, with 32 years of criminal investigation experience. All these characteristics predetermined the scope of data intended to be obtained and analyzed in the course of conducting primary research to prove the hypothesis of the present dissertation.

In addition to the described methods of data collection, the author included the elements of the observational survey to provide the complete, updated background information about the two analyzed cities, their demographic and ethnical structure stated to make a certain contribution to the homicide rates in them. To obtain results in this context, the author utilized information about Seattle and Vancouver taken from personal experience and from state websites devoted to these cities and their police departments.

Methods of data analysis

The distinguishing peculiarity of the present work concerns the fact that it examines both numeric (statistical) and textual (legislation) data that has to be properly aligned, interrelated and evaluated. With the proper consideration of this trait, two ways of analysis are required for implementation.

Numeric data is usually presented and analyzed in the form of tables, charts and statistical compilations to ensure adequateness and accuracy of inferences from it. Comments on the statistical charts will be given out directly in the text to ensure explicit explanations thereof to enhance the reader’s understanding of their relevance for the research and to provide adequate justification of conclusions and empirical implications derived from this data.

Analysis of textual data, namely legislative acts on gun possession and licensing, legal procedures of obtaining and renewing licenses will be conducted with the application of critical content analysis. In the context of discussing this particular data analysis method, it is necessary to take into account the fact that actual value of textual data is contained within the text itself but not within the researcher’s interpretation. Thus, appropriate objective analysis that is appropriate within the scope of the study is highly important.

Keeping in mind the specific combined method of data analysis, the author planned to achieve logical, grounded and reasoned results about homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver and their direct interrelation with peculiarities of legislation in the USA and Canada. The awaited results will contain only textual data based on considerations of both numeric and textual sources, thus contributing enormously to understanding the correlation of the main variables discussed in the present paper.

I expect the analysis to reveal and confirm the earlier study by Sloan, Kellerman and Reay (1988) but with more specific criteria, handgun deaths and the availability of handguns in both jurisdictions. All crime by Handguns is too broad and instead, the study will compare two comparable cities, one in the U.S. with liberal gun laws and availability and the other in Canada with strict gun control legislation and handgun availability.

Limitations of research methodology

The first limitation of the study necessary to be taken into account is the core difference in defining homicide, firearms and handguns in the legislative documents of the USA and Canada that will be considered further in the course of the literature review. Due to this difference, statistical data pertaining to variables constituting the major subject of the present research will be non-consistent for summarization to a certain extent, thus impairing the quality of assessed indicators.

Another limitation, similar to the study of Sloan et al. (1988), is that the official statistical data on gun possession does not reveal the real situation in the discussed field because of the growing number of smuggled handguns and possession of firearms without any license, and including handguns taken in other crimes, such as burglary. The proportion of illicit handguns possession may be assessed only by means of making suggestions, which excludes accuracy of data. For this reason the described variable is eliminated from the scope of the study.

Turning to the findings of Sloan et al. (1988) again, it is necessary to mention one more limitation – despite similar characteristics of both cities chosen for the present analysis inferences received as a result of the research are not generally applicable as a pattern of nationwide homicide tendencies. The reason for this is high dependence of results on specific characteristics and with the proper account of socio-economic and demographic peculiarities of chosen cities that are unique for them only and do not reveal the state pattern.

Finally, because long barrel guns are more loosely regulated than handguns, death by these means were suppose to be eliminated from the study, as will deaths by justifiable homicide. However, this proved to be very problematic, as the British Columbia Coroner’s Service does not distinguish between ‘handgun’ murder and ‘other firearm’ murders. The final comparison for this study compared ‘handguns’ murders in Seattle and ‘firearms’ murders in Vancouver. Another obstacle to the current research was that Canada required a ‘Freedom of information’ request for information concerning homicides and more specifically, POL and PAL weapons certificates, Seattle had no such restrictions on it’s data in this regard.


The Concept of Homicide in Both Jurisdictions

As has already been discovered from the literature review conducted in the context of the present work, the concept of homicide differs in meaning in the USA and Canada, thus influencing the whole perception of a ‘felony’ by authoritative bodies in both countries, as well as in the cities being currently researched. The fact that American and Canadian Criminal Codes define homicide in a different ways and give different classifications to this type of a crime underlies the deep differences in the cultural, conscious and subconscious perception of the phenomenon that cannot help but affect the way people treat homicides and punish them by law.

From the review of the US Criminal Code, it was understood that the typology of homicides is less diversified and comprises; murder, manslaughter and homicide of abuse. They are also divided into groups according to the graveness of offense and may have the first or second degree (RCW, 2009). However, the Canadian Criminal Code dedicates much more attention to the classification of homicide and distinguishes a much larger number of types of homicide including the named types and infanticide as well (The Criminal Code of Canada, 2009). The list includes murder of a police officer, murder during terror activities etc., thus presupposing much more particular attention to the way and possible motives of committing an offense.

In addition, it is necessary to examine that the Canadian legislation presupposes life imprisonment for the crime of murder. Infanticide and manslaughter presuppose softer punishment depending on the mitigating circumstances, which is also important in the context of the present discussion. The US legislation is still stricter concerning the fact that the death penalty is still widely used in the majority of the US States despite the fact that practically all countries of the world have evolved away from this type of criminal punishment. The fact that death penalty has been widely used throughout the 20th century in the US may imply that the cost of human life has diminished considerably, thus raising rates of homicide, especially firearm-related homicide.

It is possible to draw a conclusion that the way murder is perceived on a legislative and cultural level in the USA and Canada differs substantially. The history of the Washington State legislation brought about the case of Cherry vs. Seattle, discussed in the literature review section of the present work, which also contributes to the substantiation of the fact that Seattle law does not in general restrict carrying handguns and as a result the crime rates are growing in that city.

After a thorough examination of the procedure of granting a permit for carrying a gun in specifically Seattle and in Vancouver, one can see that Canada pursues a much stricter policy for allowing citizens to have handguns and firearms of another kind for personal use and possession. The period to considering applications for its citizens to bear firearms has been extended and a set of additional conditions an applicant has to comply with has been diversified, thus making the procedure of obtaining a permit longer and much more complicated.

In contrast with this observation, the Washington State and Seattle specifically, procedure of obtaining a permit is practically absent and restrictions for having a handgun are considerably less strict. Such unrivaled freedoms and practically unlimited opportunities for obtaining a firearm, without question, affect the way people treat their use. Multiple acts of violence showed that people may unexpectedly change their mind and use the gun they could have freely obtained round the corner, which certainly does not add to the overall feeling of security in the country.

Drawing a conclusion from the present discussion, it becomes possible to admit that the perception of homicide concepts in the USA and Canada are completely different, which cannot help but influence the homicide rates considerably. People who get accustomed to the everyday possession of handguns do not realize the threat they are potentially posing and may use them in a perceived crisis situation, or the situation that seems, justifiable or not, a threat to their personal safety. In Canada, in contrast to the USA, firearms are primarily intended to be used for hunting, law enforcement, and military training, not for personal use, thus forming the cultural perception of a handgun or another type of firearms as a restricted, forbidden appliance that bears a threat to everyone, so it should be strictly controlled.

This difference in the perception of firearms and their use and in addition – more accurate and thorough consideration of homicide in Canada as compared to the USA, implies that the concept is perceived in a more serious way in Canada. The population of Canada was initially raised with a clear understanding of the fact that homicide is a grave offense severely punished by law. Americans, on the contrary, grow with the thought about the Bill of Rights that allows self-defense to what some would argue, is an unlimited extent, thus forming a more loyal attitude to carrying and applying firearms, which results in a more dangerous social situation and a heavier impact of crime facilitators on the crime rates in the USA, and in Seattle in particular.

Deaths by Homicide and Other Means in Vancouver and Seattle. Gun Control and Gun Culture in Both Jurisdictions

In the context of discussing the influence of crime facilitators on the homicide rates, it is essential to consider firearm-related homicides in statistical respect. By comparing the figures in both cities it will become possible to substantiate the conclusion on the difference of gun culture and gun handling in both cities and find possible connections with all other variables considered in the present research. Starting the analysis from Seattle, it is necessary to have a look at Figure 7 illustrating trends in homicide rates within the recent period of time in a detailed way, with the description of accompanying circumstances and certain peculiarities of those crimes.

The Figure indicates a high rate of homicide in varied circumstances, which can be supported by the statistics of Seattle compared to the overall US Statistics shown on Figure 8. Green indicators are the US statistics and purple ones represent the Seattle homicide rates. From this figure it is possible to conclude that homicide rates are much higher than average in Seattle compared to other US cities. Consequently, the conclusion on rates in Seattle alone are much worse than the ones in Canada and Vancouver in particular, which will be seen from Figures , 9 10, and 11 representing Canada’s and Vancouver’s firearm-related homicide statistics.

Most striking is figure 12 showing the difference, side by side of the homicide rates caused by firearms in both jurisdictions. From 1987 to 2000, Seattle suffered 305 handgun related murders, while its sister city to the north, Vancouver suffered 114, representing % less murders with firearms.

Judging from the data obtained from statistics of the British Columbia Coroner, it becomes possible to conclude that the rates of crime on the whole and homicides, especially firearm-related homicides, are relatively low in comparison to those in Seattle. However, in case we compare data of Vancouver with the relevant information in Seattle, the latter shows much higher rates of homicide; in case we assess each city alone, the statistics support prevailing crime rates in Vancouver. The similar opinion has been voiced by the Journal The Canadian Geographer:

Within the Canadian context, crime rates in Vancouver are higher than expected on the basis of population size. Thus, with respect to the rate for all criminal code infractions, not considering traffic offences, the Vancouver CMA (1996) is first in Canada (14,868 per 100,000 persons), more than doubling the rate found in Toronto (6,920 per 100,000 persons) and almost doubling that in Montreal (7,979 per 100,000 persons)’ (The Canadian Geographer, 2006).

As a result of these considerations it is possible to conclude that the rates of crime in Seattle and Vancouver are high if related to the overall state and provisional statistics and represent highly problematic areas in both countries. However, the comparison on the basis of influence of handgun access in the role of a crime facilitator, shows substantial difference in crime rates for Seattle and Vancouver that tends to support the direct correlation between handgun access and the homicide rates in both researched cities.

Socio-Economic Analysis of Seattle and Vancouver

Homicide rates in Seattle and Vancouver are highly expressive about the way these two cities differ in gun culture and perception of carrying a gun as a threat or self defense. However, following the study of Sloan et al. (1988) it is also vital to consider socio-economic indicators of these two cities to try to make a presumption based on the comprehensive analysis of the environment, inner tendencies and peculiarities these two cities offer to their residents, thus forming the overall profile of a city.

Socio-economic data has always been considered a necessary element of a certain group assessment, so in the present study, it is important to note that the conditions in which people live often can influence their tendency to engage in criminal activity. Such indicators, according to criminologist and sociologist, can include; unemployment, lower levels of education or belonging to a discriminated, segregated group of the population that has always been stereotypically referred to negatively, as likely to engage in delinquent activities.

One can recollect a set of examples when people participating in gangs and other criminal groups justified their criminal activity by their origin, inner rules and norms of their group and the perceived inability to avoid their destiny other than becoming a criminal. It is still a common situation in the majority of societies, that for whatever reason, they are unable to provide everyone with equal opportunities for development, education and personal evolution they can move towards criminal behavior.

It has always been a common situation for many regions of America where the multiple unregistered immigrants striving for a better life in the US have realized that they have limited job opportunities, scarce access to prestigious work, therefore, no way out of their situation, but to start criminal activities to feed themselves and their families. In addition, powerful, well-formed gangs and criminal groups have always been eager to impose certain obligations on such groups of people to ensure their belonging to their group under certain conditions. So with the purpose of understanding the difference in crime rates in Vancouver and Seattle it is highly necessary to understand how their socio-economic profiles differ and how they can affect and explain this difference.

Starting our analysis with Seattle, it is necessary to consider the ethnic composition of the city. From Figure 15 it becomes clear that Seattle represents a highly diverse city by ethnicity. However, the percentage of Caucasians is rather disproportionate, providing the indisputable traditional population dominance in the ethnic profile of Seattle.

It is hard to presuppose how this diversity may affect the behavior of people and shape their criminal character, but still it is clear that the culture and people of Seattle are the dominant reasons for the residents’ wish to leave the city and more to another place. It implies the fact that people who are not natives and move to Seattle do not find friendliness and see that they do not fit into the profile of the average ‘Seattlite’ in the city. One of respondents specified his attitude to the local government actions as ‘passive aggressive social tyranny’, others name such reasons for not liking Seattle as ‘passive-aggressive, ultra-leftist hippies with more causes than friends’, ‘not family friendly’ etc. (Seattle, Washington, 2009).

From these responses it is clear that even despite the small number of ethnic minorities, Seattle seems to be still not favorable in a cultural context, thus making people look for other locations more suitable to migrate too.

To discuss some other indicators of socio-economic development of Seattle it is essential to analyze the educational opportunities people have in this city. It goes without saying that people with higher education are less likely to engage in violent criminal activity because they have a much wider range of possibilities, job opportunities, income, etc. The areas with a high percentage of high education and fewer uneducated people are likely to possess a much more peaceful and law abiding atmosphere offering a healthy environment for life and personal development. On the contrary, regions lacking educational opportunities and depriving people of a chance to develop professionally give a direct way for growing crime rates. The educational profile of Seattle may be witnessed on Figure 16.

Marital status also appears to be an important indicator for consideration. Statistically, people who have a family, a job are much more stable psychologically and socially. It is possible to draw a parallel between the marital status statistics of the city and the cultural, social stability tendencies that may be derived from it. Arguably, it is not an indisputable dependence limited many peculiarities such as individual traits of residents and unexpected life changes, but still in general a positive marital status situation may influence perception of security and stability in a region (see Fig. 17). One more important variable influencing the welfare of a particular city’s population is the profile of its employment. Employment of Seattle residents can be seen on Figure 18.

Turning to the analysis of Vancouver according to similar indicators, it is necessary to consider the following figures: ethnic composition of the Vancouver population, the peculiarities and level of income of Vancouver’s population as well as the sources of this income. All these figures will enhance our further understanding of the Vancouver socio-economic profile and will help us make further inferences for comparison with Seattle. Figures 19 and 20 offer a comprehensive, full picture of all demographic characteristics of the Vancouver population.

Additionally, is important to consider within the scope of socio-economic analysis of Vancouver population, the economic component of the union: sources of income and volume of taxation imposed on population. In certain cases people with low income and with high taxes are desperate to find the way to feed themselves and their families so they start looking for additional, illegal sources of income, which brings about a higher rate of criminal active and unemployment. For this reason the researcher should correlate the amount of money earned in the city and tax rates by the municipal powers in order to understand the real income of people living there. Figures 18 and 19 illustrate all implications in this respect:

Judging from the figures above it is clear that the city of Vancouver is also a multi-cultural city with diverse population with varied sources and amount of income, which tends to influence the variety of behaviors, social group norms and arrangements, etc. Deriving the ideas about crime and homicide from socio-economic data obtained from official sources both about Vancouver and Seattle it is possible to reach a conclusion that the environment in which people live can shape their attitudes, behavior and tends to affect their minds as well as perception of life, thoughts about good and bad etc.

It may be the social life conditions, ethnic origin or financial status that makes people commit homicide; however, this indicator is not the only one influencing the conscience of people living in any territory of the world. There are a great number of other motives that make people become criminals; nonetheless, there is still the direct interconnection between homicide and social environment in which people live, so it should be seriously considered in the scope of any analysis connected with the investigation of some tendencies existing in a society.

Analysis of both Seattle and Vancouver shows that there is diversity, distinction and peculiarities in both cities, which marks the difference and similarity of both cities at the same time. Both cities possess a high level of diversity, risk groups and ethnic minorities who may become instigators of growing crime rates. Still, analysis of socio-economic data alone cannot give the intelligible, full and understandable picture of crime facilitators existing in Seattle and Vancouver – in order to achieve a constructive conclusion it is vital to analyze statistical data on crime rates and investigate the reasons for committed crimes as well as logical justification thereof. In the question of deciding which crime facilitators affect the crime rates in Seattle and Vancouver, it is necessary to accept the fact that crime is a multi-faceted phenomenon that cannot be justified by data of just one kind or study, including this one.

Conclusion and Recommendations


Making logical inferences from the author’s present research and summing up the research findings that were revealed in the course of analysis of Seattle and Vancouver firearm-related homicide rates, it becomes clear that the initial hypothesis that was the basis for the present work was modestly proven. The fact that crime facilitators, such as the easy access to handguns and the lack of crime controllers, such as gun legislation, have proved to be the instigators of violence and raising crime rates in both cities is contentious, but arguably, unambiguous.

In the course of considering the literature related to the questions of crime rates in the USA and Canada and specifically Seattle and Vancouver, the historical overview of changing tendencies and volume of crime in both countries, a number of interesting findings have been reached and the fact that violence is increasing together with the easy access to weapons, handguns in particular, has become evident. The cases of domestic violence and firearms related homicide have witnessed that households keeping firearms as a means of self-defense apply them more often for homicide and suicide, not self-defense. Especially negatively is the tendency that revealed itself in the course of investigating child and under-age deaths.

It is now understood that misuse of firearms is the cause of child death in the USA at the astounding level increasing rates of any other country in the world by more than a dozen times. These findings brought about further considerations of the possible range of reasons for such dramatic tendencies and initiated considerations in the sphere of legislation and gun culture in the USA as compared to Canada.

The basis for the current situation with access to handguns and attitude to firearms is provided by the peculiarities of the Canadian and American legislations. In contrast to the free access to handguns with the purpose of unlimited right for self-defense brought about by the second amendment of the US Constitution and Washington States landmark decision in the Cherry vs. Seattle case, it is possible to consider that the strict laws in Canada restricting acquisition and possession of firearms in 1977 and further in 1995 are more effective in reducing homicides.

The USA has never tried to limit its citizens in gun possession and encouraged safety measures to provide the nation with liberties and autonomy to the maximum extent; however, such freedom and nurturing of liberties resulted in the diminishing value of human life, the overall obsession with self-defense and overwhelming possession and carrying firearms by all classes, groups and social entities of the USA.

A good example of the extent to which the freedom to carry handguns has emerged in the USA, is the fact that there are restrictions on carrying fully automatic guns or carrying a gun in the open, unconcealed, yet almost no restrictions on carrying them concealed or possessing them in one’s own dwelling. In discussing which categories of citizens may be eligible for carrying concealed firearms and which ones may not, there are no strict regulations in Seattle, except the limitations for mentally treated persons and those with criminal records for a specific list of certain offenses.

Canadian legislation proved to have been directed at limiting the population’s access to weapons and handguns in particular. The most significant laws in this sphere have been place into force in 1977 (Bill C-71) and in 1995 and were aimed to make the procedure of obtaining a permit to possess a firearm more difficult and comprehensive. Nowadays the access to firearms for Canadians is precisely monitored, which can be seen from the reduced number of issued permits for firearms. As a result, the gun culture of the country has changed, becoming healthier with a greater respect for human life. In Canada, people possessing firearms can obtain them for a very restricted number of purposes such as competitive target practice, very limited hunting activities, law enforcement duties and even military training and duties.

All these facts, included in the comprehensive comparison of indicators of crime rates in Seattle and Vancouver, strengthen the theory that crime facilitators, for example handguns, can have a direct impact on the crime rates in the investigated cities and crime controllers, such as gun legislation can reduce the number of homicides by restricting the crime facilitators. Vancouver, even statistically having a higher rate of crime as compared to other comparable cities in Canada, still has a much lower rate of crime, especially firearm-related homicides, than Seattle. This fact, together with the consideration that both cities are situated in a relatively similar geographical region that excludes certain regional differences, shows that crime facilitators of free access and peculiarities of firearm legislation continuously produce considerable influence on gun culture and homicides by means of firearms application.

Recommendations and Areas of Further Research

Taking into consideration the implications of the present research, it is obvious that the situation, even being detected, still requires urgent and comprehensive measures being taken. The situation with Vancouver is much more complicated because even in case it represents much lower rates of crime in comparison with Seattle, it is still a problematic area in Canada, showing high crime rates in comparison with Toronto and other major cities of Canada.

Even under the strict legislation providing limited access to handguns it is clear that the high rate is caused by some other crime facilitators which may come into force in that region. For this reason it is necessary to follow the theory of Clarke and pay more attention to crime prevention than to analysis of the crimes that have already been committed. According to his findings, research in the sphere of understanding the hidden mechanisms that become an incentive for people committing crimes may give the enormous potential to police officers who may prevent the crimes instead of merely investigating them.

The theory of Clarke’s SCP (1977) may become a powerful tool for crime prevention and reduction of crime rates by extensive social and psychological work with the police departments and the communities they represent, in dealing directly with crimes and their consequences. When the police take further steps, instead of just traditional detection of crime and arresting people who are suspected of committing an offense, there will be the possibility to make the potential offenders abstain from their criminal intentions. To put this plan into action the direction of professional training courses for police officers have to be substantially changed in order to provide the police officers with the sound theoretical and empirical basis for further development and implementation of the crime prevention theory.

The situation with Seattle is much clearer but still, the action that should be taken with the purpose of reducing crime rates has to be comprehensive and large-scale. The main gap to be filled is the current absence of appropriate legislative measures that would restrict handgun possession and application. Together with the rules concerning handgun possession and handguns becoming a rarer phenomenon in the US society, gun culture is likely to change and yield positive social results. It is a long process to go through, and US citizens and specifically Washington State residents, are likely to be unwilling to give up their constitutionally protected liberties concerning their right to keep and bear arms, with the usualby false perception that to do so, would expose them to be victims of violence.

Unless there is an active campaign and education on the premise of restricting handgun usage is properly structured and the message of this action is properly and accurately communicated to the common public, the process to bring positive, visible results in this area is unlikely. America has to look inward to evaluate if this liberty is worth the consequences in a national epidemic of violence and death, including its children. This is a tough road ahead for Americans and involves a contentious debate that will not be settled in our lifetimes. To quote Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights (1791);

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it’ [away].


2007 Report, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Commissioner- Firearms. RCMP Canada Firearms Centre, Ottawa.

‘A Statistical Analysis of the Impacts of the 1977 Firearms Control Legislation’ 1996. Web.

Agresti, JD 1999 ‘Gun Control Facts’. Web.

‘Application for a License under the Firearms Act’ 2000. Web.

Bartlett, D., ‘Firearm Acquisition Certification Information’. Web.

Bill of Rights 1789. Web.

British Columbia Coroner’s Homicide Data Statistics 2009. Web.

Carter, GL 2002, Guns in American Society, ABC-CLIO, 756 pp.

‘Cherry vs. Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle’ 1991, Wash.2d 794, 808 P.2d 746.

Clarke, RV 1977, ‘Situational Crime Prevention’, School of Criminal Justice

Rutgers University, Harrow and Heston Publishers, Guilderland, New York.

Downes, DM & Rock, PE 2007, Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking, 5th edn, Oxford University Press.

‘Fire Arm Related Homicides in the City of Vancouver BC, 1987 to 2000’ 2009, BC Coroners Service, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

‘Firearm Statistics: Updated Table’ 2009. Web.

‘Firearm Locking Devices’ 2008. Web.

Firearms Act 1995. Web.

‘Firearms and dangerous weapons’ 2009, Chapter 9.41 RCW. Web.

Fox, JA & Zawitz, MW 2007, ‘Homicide Trends in the US’, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

‘Homicide’ 2009, Chapter 9A.32 RCW. Web.

King County Police: Concealed Weapons License Section. Seattle, WA. USA. Web.

Nickels, G 2008, ‘The Greater Seattle Datasheet’, The Office of Intergovernmental Relations City of Seattle.

O’Leary, M 1999, ‘Firearms research: annotated biography on selected issues’, Canadian Firearms Center, Policy Sector, Department of Justice Canada.

‘Rational Choice Theory (RCT)’ 2004, On-Line Learning. Web.

Seattle Police Department, Planning, Research and Development Section documents, obtained by the author in person, Nov. 2008, Seattle, WA. USA

Seattle Police Department Annual Reports. Web.

‘Seattle, Washington’ 2009. Web.

Sloan JH et al. 1988, ‘Handgun regulation, crime, assaults, and homicide: a tale of two cities’, The New England Journal of Medicine, no. 10, pp. 1256-1262.

The Criminal Code of Canada 1985. Web.

‘Trends in Rates of Homicide – US, 1985-1994’ 1996, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Web.

University of Leicester, Department of Criminology, Intake 2007.Crime and the Work Place, Module 1.

‘Vancouver City’ 2007, BC Stats, Community Facts. Web.

‘Violence Inside and Outside the Home’ 1994. Web.

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Wynn, G 2009 ‘Vancouver (British Columbia)’, Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. Web.


Figure 1. Homicide Statistics in Vancouver, 1994-2004.

Avr Vancouver. 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04
17 Homicide 15 9 19 16 15 18 22 19 14 19 22
0,85 Rate of Firearm Homicide 0.84 0.49 1.00 0.82 0.76 0.9 1.08 0,92 0.67 0.89 1.01
52 All Homicide 48 64 56 52 45 57 42 43 69 45 56
2,6 Rate of All Homicide 2.7 3.5 2.9 2.7 2.3 2.8 2.1 2.1 3.3 2.1 2.6
25 Firearm Homicide as % of all Homicide 31 14 34 31 33 32 52 44 20 42 39

Figure 2. Statistical data on homicide rates in Seattle, 1994-2004.

Year 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05
Number of Victims 69 41 37 49 49 45 36 25 26 32 24 25
% Guns 72.5 57.5 43.2 61.2 57.1 62.2 52.8 68 61.5 52.9 62.5 52
% Knife 14.5 20 24.3 12.2 20.4 17.8 25 12 19.2 26.5 29.2 24
% Other Weapons 13 22.5 32.4 26.5 22.4 20 22.2 20 19.2 20.6 8.3 24

Figure 4. Opportunity-reducing techniques. Clarke 1977.

Increase the effort Increase the risks Reduce the rewards Reduce provocations Remove the excuses
1. Harden Targets
immobilizers in cars
anti-robbery screens
6. Extend

neighborhood watch
11. Conceal targets
gender-neutral phone directories
off-street parking
16. Reduce
frustrationand stress

efficient queuing
soothing lighting
21. Set rules
rental agreements
hotel registration
2. Control access to facilities
entry phones
7. Assist natural surveillance
improved street lighting
neighborhood watch hotlines
12. Remove targets
removable car radios
pre-paid public phone cards
17. Avoid disputes
fixed cab fares
reduce crowding in pubs
22. Post instructions
‘No parking’
‘Private property’
3. Screen exits
tickets needed
electronic tags for libraries
8. Reduce anonymity
taxi driver ID’s
‘how’s my driving?’ signs
13. Identify property
property marking
vehicle licensing
18. Reduce emotional arousal
controls on violent porn
prohibit pedophiles working with children
23. Alert conscience
roadside speed display signs
‘shoplifting is stealing’
4. Deflect offenders
street closures in red light district
separate toilets for women
9. Utilize place managers
train employees to prevent crime
support whistle blowers
14. Disrupt markets
checks on pawn brokers
licensed street vendors
19. Neutralize peer pressure
‘idiots drink and drive’
‘it’s ok to say no’
24. Assist compliance
litter bins
public lavatories
Homicide rates in the USA (1985 – 1994).
Figure 6. Homicide rates in the USA (1985 – 1994).
Firearm-related homicide rates in the USA, 1985 – 1994.
Figure 7. Firearm-related homicide rates in the USA, 1985 – 1994.

Figure 8. Seattle Homicide Rates.

00076656 10100 R4 20000218 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER SIDEWALK
00114814 07700 H1 20000313 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER STREET
00169005 09400 R1 20000415 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER STREET
00184318 10300 R5 20000424 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER PARK LOT
00193112 04400 U2 20000429 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER STREET
00251350 10100 R4 20000603 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER PARK LOT
00299800 07800 H3 20000701 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER STREET
00905294 05302 U5 20000628 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER HOSPITAL
00361144 11100 S2 20000804 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER APT
00448892 09300 K3 20000924 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER STREET
00482683 08100 K1 20001015 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER SIDEWALK
00484203 09800 W2 20001016 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER HOUSE
00507054 10800 F1 20001030 MURDER-OTHGUN 01A MURDER SVC STN
00516105 10100 R5 20001104 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER MOBILE RES
00539925 10800 F1 20001119 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER APT
00549727 11800 S4 20001125 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER APT OTH
00563474 10400 S1 20001204 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER HOUSE
00600936 11100 S2 20001230 MURDER-HANDGUN 01A MURDER STREET
Fire Arm Related Homicides in the City of Vancouver BC, 1987 to 2000.
Figure 10. Fire Arm Related Homicides in the City of Vancouver BC, 1987 to 2000.

Figure 12. Homicide Rates in Canada.

Homicide (Firearm and Total), by major CMA, 1994-2004
Number of Firearm Homicide
YEAR Toronto Montreal Vancouver Calgary Edmonton Ottawa Quebec City Winnipeg
1994 31 32 15 8 7 6 4 1
1995 15 31 9 5 4 11 2 2
1996 29 28 19 6 3 3 8 4
1997 30 32 16 3 4 1 4 1
1998 16 29 15 2 2 1 9 2
1999 24 27 18 1 1 4 6 1
2000 28 33 22 4 4 2 6
2001 37 38 19 2 3 0 1
2002 39 16 14 4 5 1 0 3
2003 42 20 19 3 9 2 0 3
2004 41 21 22 4 10 3 1 11
Average 30 28 17 4 5 3 4 3

Figure 13. Rates of Firearm Homicide.

Rate of Firearm Homicide (per 100,000 population)
YEAR Toronto Montreal Vancouver Calgary Edmonton Ottawa Quebec City Winnipeg
1994 0.73 0.97 0.84 0.98 0.79 0.79 0.58 0.15
1995 0.35 0.93 0.49 0.60 0.45 1.43 0.29 0.30
1996 0.66 0.84 1.00 0.71 0.34 0.36 1.16 0.60
1997 0.67 0.95 0.82 0.34 0.44 0.12 0.58 0.15
1998 0.35 0.86 0.76 0.22 0.22 0.13 1.30 0.30
1999 0.52 0.79 0.90 0.11 0.11 0.49 0.87 0.15
2000 0.59 0.96 1.08 0.42 0.42 0.24 0.86
2001 0.76 1.09 0.92 0.20 0.31 0.15
2002 0.78 0.45 0.67 0.40 0.51 0.12 0.44
2003 0.82 0.55 0.89 0.29 0.91 0.23 0.44
2004 0.79 0.58 1.01 0.38 1.00 0.34 0.14 1.58
Average 0.64 0.81 0.85 0.42 0.50 0.39 0.53 0.39

Figure 14: Percentage of Homicide Rates.

Firearm Homicide as Percentage of All Homicide (%)
YEAR Toronto Montreal Vancouver Calgary Edmonton Ottawa Quebec City Winnipeg
1994 36 43 31 44 29 50 36 6
1995 20 40 14 28 21 46 50 13
1996 37 37 34 50 15 27 53 14
1997 36 43 31 33 14 11 44 5
1998 21 45 33 11 9 25 60 11
1999 39 38 32 8 5 33 60 7
2000 35 44 52 25 21 25 50
2001 47 49 44 13 12 5
2002 43 24 20 27 19 13 13
2003 44 36 42 27 41 20 17
2004 44 33 39 20 29 30 17 32
Average 29 28 25 18 15 23 32 13
Races in Seattle.
Figure 15: Races in Seattle.
  • White Non-Hispanic (67.9%);
  • Black (8.4%);
  • Hispanic (5.3%);
  • Two or more races (4.5%);
  • Chinese (3.4%);
  • Filipino (2.8%);
  • Other race (2.4%);
  • Vietnamese (2.1%);
  • American Indian (2.1%);
  • Other Asian (1.8%);
  • Japanese (1.6%);
  • Korean (0.9%);
  • Asian Indian (0.5%).
The Educational Profile of Seattle.
Figure 15. The Educational Profile of Seattle.

For population 25 years and over in Seattle

  • High school or higher: 89.5%.
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 47.2%.
  • Graduate or professional degree: 17.3%.
  • Unemployed: 5.1%.
  • Mean travel time to work: 24.8 minutes.
Marital status - For population 15 years and over in Seattle city.
Figure 16. Marital status – For population 15 years and over in Seattle city.
  • Never married: 41.8%;
  • Now married: 39.9%;
  • Separated: 1.6%;
  • Widowed: 5.4%;
  • Divorced: 11.4%.
Unemployment Rates in Seattle.
Figure 18. Unemployment Rates in Seattle.
Vancouver Population Socio-Economic Characteristics.
Figure 19: Vancouver Population Socio-Economic Characteristics.
Population Estimates and Age Distribution in Vancouver.
Figure 20: Population Estimates and Age Distribution in Vancouver.
Taxation Statistics.
Figure 21: Taxation Statistics.
Tax Volumes in Vancouver.
Figure 22: Tax Volumes in Vancouver.

Figure 23.

Concealed Pistol License Activity in Seattle, 2000-2007
Permit Category 2000 Number 2001 Number 2002 Number 2003 Number 2004 Number 2005 Number 2006 Number 2007 Number
DEN permits 10 9 8 4 0 3 1 1
EXP permits 30 40 1 25 19 14 6 0
LATE permits 96 255 249 152 88 44 99 114
NEW permits 707 823 610 456 412 360 404 455
REN permits 487 1002 884 503 260 295 530 443
REPL permits 117 76 94 80 44 48 55 53
REV permits 9 7 9 8 4 3 5 2
VOID permits 11 26 1 2 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 1467 2238 1856 1230 827 767 1100 1068
Notes: Permit Category Codes are, as follows:
DEN = denied
EXP = Expired
Late = Late renewal
NEW = new license
REN = renewal lic
RPL = replacement
REV = revoked
VOID = voided lic
TOTAL = total permit activity; TOTAL PERMITS ISSUED excludes denied, expired, revoked or void and includes the shaded categories.
City of Seattle CCW permits and Vancouver POL certificates issued, 2000-2007. 
Figure 24: City of Seattle CCW permits and Vancouver POL certificates issued, 2000-2007. 


  1. Source: Department of Justice, 2009. Web.
  2. Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009. Web.