Firearm availability and suicide in Canada: examining the effects of gun control, unemployment, divorce and sex on firearm suicides from 2009-2020

McLellan, Hayley (2023) Firearm availability and suicide in Canada: examining the effects of gun control, unemployment, divorce and sex on firearm suicides from 2009-2020. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Firearms are the most lethal method used in suicides. However, firearm legislation does not change for the purpose of reducing suicides. Between 2009 and 2020, Canada implemented firearm legislation to regulate the use, storage and purchasing of firearms. Bill C-19 removed the requirement to register certain firearms, Bill C-42 held stronger provisions in prohibiting the possession of firearms of those who have been convicted of a domestic violence offence, Bill C-71 extended background checks and Bill C-21 was introduced to classify certain firearms as prohibited after a mass shooting in Nova Scotia. I examined these legislative changes using secondary data from Statistics Canada to determine if gun control reduces the rate of firearm suicides. Statistical analysis included difference in differences, which examined firearm suicides before and after Bill C-19 and Bill C-42 were enacted. As Bill C-71 and Bill C-21 are too recent to fully examine their effects, they were not included in the full statistical analysis. The rate of firearm licensing compared to the rate of firearm suicides was also examined per province to determine if firearm ownership increases firearm suicide rates. It was found that there was not a significant increase in suicides, both firearm and other, after each enacted legislation. However, there was a slight increase in firearm suicides, even more so when divorce, unemployment rates and sex were added. Firearm legislation itself may not reduce firearm suicide rates, which means quick solutions from the government alone in response to specific instances of suicides and clusters of suicides will not successfully reduce the rates. Therefore, I recommend educational interventions, social welfare systems and healthcare systems work together in a multifaceted approach to tackle this issue.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15943
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 103-117)
Keywords: suicide, firearm, gun control, Canada, sociological factors
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: May 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Firearms--Canada--2009-2020; Gun control--Canada--2009-2020; Suicide--Canada--2009-2020; Suicide--Risk factors--Canada

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