Comparing Murder Rates

Clayton E. Cramer posted an article on PJ Media about the difference in murder rates between Canada and the United States. Part of the point he was trying to make is that gun laws aren’t necessarily behind the differences in murder rates between Canada and the United States.


His comparisons aren’t valid. He doesn’t know Canada, and so he missed some important points. I don’t know the United States as well as he does, but I used to travel there a lot, and I see things differently.

Let’s look at the numbers he quoted.

  • Idaho – 2011 – murder rate was 2.3 per 100,000.
  • Minnesota – 2011 – 1.4 murders per 100,000.
  • Montana – 2011 – 2.8 murders per 100,000.
  • North Dakota – 2011 – 3.5 murders per 100,000.
  • Nunavut  – 2011 – 21.01 murders per 100,000.
  • Northwest Territories  – 2011 – 6.87 murders per 100,000.
  • Nova Scotia  – 2011 – 2.33 murders per 100,000.
  • Manitoba  – 2011 – 4.24 murders per 100,000.
  • Saskatchewan – 2011 – 3.59 murders per 100,000.
  • Alberta – 2011 – 2.88 murders per 100,000.

Looks pretty solid, doesn’t it? But is it?

  • Idaho – 1,595,728 population
  • Minnesota – 5,420,380 population
  • Montana – 1,015,165 population
  • North Dakota – 723,393 population
  • Nunavut – 31,906 population
  • Northwest Territories – 41,462 population
  • Nova Scotia – 921,727 population
  • Manitoba – 1,208,268 population
  • Saskatchewan – 1,033,381 population
  • Alberta – 3,645,257 population

When you look at population, you’ll note that the populations of the Canadian provinces and territories are a lot lower. This means that if there is one murder in Nunavut, the murder rate is 3.13 murders per 100,000 population.

He also doesn’t understand Canadian gun laws. While I don’t have solid figures on gun ownership in Nunavut, it is probably like where I live in Northern Ontario. There are more guns than people on the street where I live. Seriously. Hunting is a big sport up here, and nearly every house has at least one shotgun or rifle.

So if anyone wants a gun to commit a murder, they aren’t that hard to obtain. In fact there are more guns in areas like where I live, than in most areas of the United States.

I do agree with him that there are underlying contributing factors which need to be addressed. Poverty, Alcohol, and Domestic Violence are huge contributing factors. Many of the states with the highest poverty levels have incredibly high homicide rates. Canadian poverty rates are far lower, and that impacts on our homicide rate, which is also far lower.

And of course he ignored the Yukon. It had a homicide rate of 0.00 in both 2011 and 2012. But mentioning that would have ruined his thesis.

For reference, please see:

FBI Crime Table 2011

FBI Crime Table 2012

Statistics Canada Crime Table 2011

Statistics Canada Crime Table 2012


Wayne Borean

Saturday May 24, 2014



2 thoughts on “Comparing Murder Rates

  1. US murder rates very widely depending on the socioeconomic situation. Most areas with high murder rates are poorer areas while wealthy areas have very low murder rates. I suspect this trend is true worldwide. So aggregating the rate over a state or province masks this distribution. What would be better is compare the rates in smaller areas of comparable poverty/wealth between the US and Canada. My guess the poorest areas of Toronto have rates that are much higher that national or provincial average. The would be true of any major US city, such as Chicago, the poorest areas will have much higher rates than the Illinois or US average.

    Basically, the analysis uses sloppy statistics to “prove” a point. The real issue is not that guns, knives, baseball bats, etc. are used as murder weapons but why do some areas have much higher rates than other areas.

    1. Ah, but there aren’t any poor areas in Toronto.

      Seriously. We’ve had Americans come visit, who wondered where the ghetto was, while standing right in the middle of it…

      Compared to Canada, much of the United States is like a third world country, something that shocked me when I first started travelling a lot in the USA on business. What is supposed to be the richest, and most advanced country in the world, looks more like China (yes, I’ve been there too).


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