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CMAJ. 1996 Nov 1;155(9):1285-9.

Firearms injury prevention and gun control in Canada.

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  • 1Laval University, Quebec.


Firearms cause more than three deaths daily in Canada. The rate of mortality from gunshot wounds varies among provinces and territories, ranging from 5.7 to 21.2 per 100,000 people. Most deaths from gunshot wounds occur in the home, with more occurring in rural areas than in cities, and are inflicted with legally acquired hunting guns. The cost of the consequences of the improper use of firearms in Canada has been estimated at $6.6 billion per year. There is a correlation between access to guns and risk of death. The mere presence of a firearm in a home increases the risk of suicide, homicide and "accidental" death. It is estimated that, in one third of all households in Quebec that have a firearm, it is not safely, or even legally, stored. To prevent deaths and injuries from firearms, education is not enough. Environmental, technological and legislative measures are also needed. In this spirit, the Quebec Public Health Network has taken a position supporting better controls on access to firearms, including the licensing and registration of all firearms and their ownership, to prevent deaths and injuries. The network believes that licensing and registration will reduce the problems related to firearms by making owners accountable for the use of their firearms, improving public safety, helping to control the import and circulation of firearms, reinforcing research and education, and reducing access to firearms in homes. Licensing and registration do not interfere with legitimate firearm use, their cost is acceptable in light of the advantages they provide, and they are desired by most Canadians.

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