Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Canadian views are hardening on gun control, & away from the Conservative line

Angus Reid released survey data today with a lot of questions on gun control and gun registry-related issues. I’m sure you’ll hear many of the usual c/Conservative suspects grab a few of the figures to support their talking-points. Indeed, they already are. But looking more closely at the numbers, and more importantly at the trend lines, show some interesting findings they’ll chose to ignore.

They don’t provide the trendlines directly, but if you pull-up the last gun study Angus Reid did in 2009 and compare the findings (the bulk of the questions are identical) some very interesting trends emerge showing the views of Canadians are trending toward greater measures on gun control. You also see some of the funny inherent contradictions that come with public opinion measurement.

For example, Canadians by and large agree gun violence is becoming less of a serious problem. Just 28 per cent called it serious, down by six points, while 42 per cent called it moderately serious, down by four points. Some 23 per cent said it was not too serious, a rise of eight points.

You’d think with that trend, people wouldn’t favour stricter gun control measures. But they do. When asked if they’d favour a complete ban on handguns in Canada, nearly half, 49 per cent, said yes it would be justified, while 39 per cent said it would not be justified. Again, besides the near majority, the interesting thing here is the trends: support for a ban was up three points, and more strikingly opposition to a handgun ban was down by seven points.

Which brings us to the infamous gun registry. One question you’re seeing be latched-onto is if the registry has been successful or not fighting crime. Just 13 per cent said it was (up two) while 43 per cent said it wasn’t (down four) and 20 per cent said it had no effect (down three). Those are interesting results, particularly when compared to the complete ban results. Do they mean many want the government to go further because the registry hasn’t been effective enough, or scrap it all together because it’s ineffective? Probably both, but it’s impossible to say with the available data.

On support/oppose scrapping the long gun registry, the figure you’ll hear most is that 44 per cent support scrapping it, while 35 per cent oppose it. That those numbers aren’t more wide given the opinion on its effectiveness shows that some simply want a more effective registry. And again, here, the trend is telling. Support for scrapping the registry has dropped by seven points since last November, while opposition is up by one point. Which means some former registry opponents are on the fence, and support for scrapping the registry is on the decline.

Finally, going further than just a handgun ban, Angus Reid also asked if it should be legal or illegal for ordinary Canadians to own firearms all together. In a reversal from last year, a plurality of Canadian (45 per cent) said it should be illegal, and 40 per cent said it should stay legal. Illegal was up by six points, while keep it legal declined by seven.

So, look at the numbers and the trends in totality and what can we take away? Canadians are increasingly favouring stricter gun control, not looser. Support for scrapping the registry is declining, and support shouldn’t be taken as a condemnation of gun control.

Finally, a few things are often overlooked by the pundits and the media around this issue. They paint it as a rural/urban thing, which is fair enough. But while they spend much time on how this could impact rural voting, they ignore how it could impact urban voting. We have the registry now, and I’d argue this issue has largely been factored into rural voting patterns. Urban, though, is a different story. How many swing urban soccer mom votes who have gone Conservative during Harper’s sweater vest era (and moved seats) would flip if he succeeds in killing the registry and is seen as soft on gun control? Those are swing seats at risk, while the votes they’d gain are in rural ridings they probably already hold.

Also, look at the regionals and you’ll see opinions in Quebec are quite staunchly anti-gun. Some 76 per cent of Quebecers view gun violence as very or moderately serious, 54 per cent support a handgun ban, 54 per cent would make gun ownership illegal, and 51 per cent oppose scrapping the gun registry.

A: Urban Canada. Quebec.

Q: What are two places the Conservatives can’t afford to lose support if they’re going to ever get a majority?

Were I an NDPer representing a riding like Outremont I’d be a little concerned here too.

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C4SR said...

Great analyis. The issue is trending away from the Harper Tory government.

Many years before you came to Ontario, there was a Premier named Mike Harris.

His government talked a good game on the gun registry and took a (half assed) role in Alberta's failed Supreme Court challenge of the long gun registry.

When push came to shove - unlike the prairie provinces - Mike Harris refused to opt out. His government stayed in the gun registry. (Any of Tony Clement, Jim Flaherty, John Baird or David Tilson MPs can confirm this.)

Going further, the Harris government ended the spring bear hunt despite opposition from the organized hunting and gun lobby.


It's simple. Ontario's swing voters are not what you would describe as "pro-gun". Ontario's swing voers are suburban and ex-urban. They voted for Mike Harris and Jean Chr├ętien. Overwhelmingly.

My guess, and it is only a guess, is that the demographics within this poll shows that support for tightening controls on guns in Canada falls not only within urban and Quebec voters but also among the suburban/exurban Chr├ętien-Harris voters.

And that is bad news for a a Harper Tory government panering to its increasingly narrow base.

Reynald said...

Well I suppose that if you ignore the fact that ALL bans have failed historically then you could be in favour of a gun ban. Freud said something to the effect that if one repeats the same action with the same result but expecting another result then it is insanity.

Ban proponents can not show one instance internationally where gun bans have resulted in less crime. Just the opposite is the case in the U.K. and Australia. New Zealand dropped it's gun registry for being ineffective and expensive. Sound familiar?

Also claiming a gun registry saves lives is akin to religion for you take it on faith with no substantive evidence available.

We need to address the social problems that are the spawning grounds for the urban gangs. The last thing we need is more of a failed Liberal policy. The wasted two billion dollars was taken from health care and social programs. See the results.

Wake up and recognise reality. A ban will only penalize the law abiding citizen and not effect the criminal. That is the historic truth.

The ban calls are driven by ignorance, prejudice, propaganda and political opportunism. This is why I have turned away from the Liberal Party of Canada. They have failed Canadians on health care, crime control, border control, drugs and the military. Where is the merit in supporting a party with poor leadership and a bland, non-responsive political platform?

Yes, current problems can be traced to past Liberal policies and their resultant failures. Gun control is a red herring. Many who support it cannot tell you the difference between personal licensing and firearms registration and these are the folks that may vote on public policy!

No, I must stick to the science and historical facts. Let's see a new and imaginative approach to our problems.

Malcolm+ said...

"Support for scrapping the registry . . . shouldn’t be taken as a condemnation of gun control."

Of course, the only people that have argued that opposing the registry is opposing gun control have been Liberal hacks and that odious woman Wendy Cukier. Many of us support effective firearms regulation, but have never been convinced (and remain unconvinced) that it is effective public policy. In particular, we are unconvinced it is more effective public policy than the status quo ante, which regulated firearms ownership, storage and use.

But Liberal demagogues have effectively prevented any rational discussion of the registry as public policy by pretending that the alternative to the registry is armed gangs roaming th streets and killing people at random.

Of course, the increase support for banning firearms ownership entirely (which conveniently makes the ravings of Conservative demagogues increasingly credible) demonstrates how effective Liberal Party has been over the past 17 years in demonizing responsible firearms owners.

Out this way, for rural folk, a rifle or a shotgun is a tool. The vast majority of firearms owners are mature and responsible.

Unfortunately, the Liberal Party prefers to play wedge politics by encouraging urban easterners to hate, loathe and fear rural westerners.

Didn't you guys used to be the party of national unity? When did you become the party of wedge politics and scapegoating?

CanadianSense said...


It is a nice try but no points.

Here is the rub, Liberals have tried 'they know best' on a number of issues demanded they have the best interests of Canadians at heart.

A policy was created to weaken personal liberty of law abiding citizens.

It has not stopped the use of long guns in the murders at Maythorpe, the Cegep or use of non-registered guns. I has been a Liberal boondoggle.

Liberal believe in Big Government, Central planners who know best and want to redistribute wealth and increase regulation in the personal activity of it's citizens.

Please link the studies prior to the tragedy in Montreal that demonstrate the Liberals did not use his act for wedge politics and it was an evidence fact based decision.

The historical low in popular support 2008 will be broken as a result of political stunts and games.