Northern Sask. firearm crime rate over 4 times national average in 2021: report

A 2021 Statistics Canada report shows Saskatchewan has the third highest rate of firearm violent crime in the country.

Meanwhile, Northern Saskatchewan has ranked first in crime in involving firearms for seven years consecutively.

The firearm crime rate per capita in the northern area is over four times the national average.

The area has seen a very small decrease in the rate, with only two less victims than 2020.

Read more: Saskatchewan opposes handgun freeze, saying it will not reduce crime

University of Saskatchewan sociologist Timothy Kang studies crime and said that the violence rates might not only be related to the number of guns in the province, but to social and individual determinants as well.

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The isolated areas that are reporting the highest numbers of violent firearm crimes are also reported to have lower access to provincial resources than other areas of the province.

“When you think about sparse population, access to education, access to health care, access to social services, access to welfare, employment, housing, you know, there’s just a huge list of things that become that much more difficult, the more sparsely populated a place is,” said Kang.

Ambulance times in rural areas can also play a factor in whether gun violence will turn into a homicide or not, he said.

“The thing that determines whether an assault turns into a homicide is how quickly the ambulance can get to the victim,” Kang said.

Read more: Saskatchewan reported to have highest homicide rate in Canada

Saskatchewan is reported to not contain a more guns compared to other areas, but the population in the area is significantly smaller.

Kang did note that population fluctuations can play a large role in reports like this that are primarily created for comparison.

“In the case across Canada, the magnitudes of the places that we’re usually comparing, for example, Ontario and Saskatchewan, you know, that it’s quite a big difference. And so that does play a role and it’s especially highlighted when you’re talking about relatively rare things.

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“With all of that said, the numbers are still quite high. Saskatchewan does still sort of represent a fairly large proportion of the absolute number of firearms reported or firearm related crime.”

To combat these numbers, the federal government is banning assault style rifles — weapons that can fire more than one shot quickly.

Some groups in Saskatchewan have said that this will impact hunters across the province. However, the recent report shows that crime is highest in the rural, commonly hunted areas.

You can read the Statistics Canada report here: Firearms and violent crime in Canada, 2021 (statcan.gc.ca)

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