Gary Mauser; Papers and Presentations

Professor Mauser can be reached for media interviews, or as a guest speaker for your event at

July 16, 2008
United Nations Biennial Meeting of States to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

16 July 2008

By Gary Mauser
National Firearms Association of Canada – NFA

Mr President, distinguished delegates,

I am Gary Mauser, Professor Emeritus, of Simon Fraser University in Canada. I represent the National Firearms Association. For over 20 years, my academic research at SFU has involved studying firearms and crime. A study I did with constitutional lawyer and criminologist Don B. Kates has been recently published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. I will briefly report on our findings.

  1. Download paper in Adobe pdf -- Mauser 2008 United Nations Statement

Link to to Download Would banning firearms reduce murder and suicide? A review of international and some domestic evidence.: An article from: Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.

March 31, 2008

"A Critique of Methods Used to Estimate Civilian Firearms in Small Arms Survey 2007, Guns and the City"


Shooting Sports Survey, Conservation and Sport
Julianne Versnel Gottlieb (Editor)
Merril Press, Bellevue, WA 2008

In this essay I briefly criticize the methodology used in the recent publication, Small Arms Survey 2007, Guns and the City, to estimate global firearm stock. My critique will focus exclusively on Chapter 2, "Completing the Count, Civilian Firearms", by Aaron Karn, which introduces important modifications to previous approaches used by the Small Arms Survey (SAS) group for estimating firearm stock (Killias, 1993; SAS 2002, 2006). The principal innovation in Chapter 2 is a new way to estimate the number of firearms held outside of national governments, referred to here as "civilian firearms". Using this new approach, the SAS estimates have nearly doubled for world-wide firearm stock, jumping to 875 million from 500 million. This increase is only apparent, as it is due entirely to changing methods for estimating non-governmental firearms. The author asserts that 650 million of these firearms are held outside of government (by "civilians"). It is important to assess this new, and supposedly more sophisticated, approach in order to evaluate its contribution.

  1. Download paper in Adobe pdf -- SAS Critique
  2. Download Data-Tables in Adobe pdf -- SAS Critique Tables

Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International Evidence

Gary A. Mauser, Simon Fraser University
Don B. Kates, retired


The world abounds in instruments with which people can kill each other. Is the widespread availability of one of these instruments, firearms, a crucial determinant of the incidence of murder? Or do patterns of murder and/or violent crime reflect basic socio-economic and/or cultural factors to which the mere availability of one particular form of weaponry is irrelevant?

This article examines a broad range of international data that bear on two distinct but interrelated questions: first, whether widespread firearm access is an important contributing factor in murder and/or suicide, and second, whether the introduction of laws that restrict general access to firearms has been successful in reducing violent crime, homicide or suicide. Our conclusion from the available data is that suicide, murder and violent crime rates are determined by basic social, economic and/or cultural factors with the availability of any particular one of the world’s myriad deadly instrument being irrelevant.

This paper is the penultimate version as a few minor editorial changes have been made in the final publication.

Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International Evidence.

Updated April 2, 2007

A Critique of the Ekos Stakeholder Survey

Any changes the New Conservative government makes in the firearm laws should be based on solid principles that have been shown to be effective. New legislation should not be introduced just because it is popular or acceptable.

The principal flaw in the EKOS survey is that it focused uniquely on the acceptability of changes to gun laws rather than whether the proposed changes would be effective in reducing criminal violence. This puts the cart ahead of the horse.

Acceptability should not be ignored, but it is secondary in importance to effectiveness. To be effective, firearm laws should be acceptable to as wide a spectrum of Canadians as possible.

Unfortunately, the only estimate available for the acceptability of the proposed changes is the EKOS survey. By default, it becomes the best available information about what changes to the firearms laws the Canadian public will accept.

It is wise to base one's decisions on the best available information, even if that information is known to be less than perfect. The EKOS survey only gains respect if its findings correspond with the recommendations of other respected sources, such as the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee. The recommendations of the CFAC predated the survey but they were corroborated by the survey results. This can be seen in several key areas of the survey, where surprisingly high percentages of respondents supported the same recommendations that the CFAC had made earlier.

If the EKOS survey is ignored, there is little else to rely upon besides self-interested partisans who would probably not support the government's initiatives no matter what they proposed.

Read the critique.

November 15, 2006

Professor Gary Mauser draft of an article to be published by the Institute for Economic Analysis in Summer 2007

This draft article is to be published by the Institute for Economic Analysis;

This paper compares long-term crime trends in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries with those in the US. The US is the only country where violent crime and homicide rates fell. Expensive and restrictive firearms laws failed to reduce homicide or violent crime in any of the countries examined.

Charts included in paper

Excel Charts

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October 4, 2006

Mauser Presentation to House of Commons Committee

I am Gary Mauser, a professor at Simon Fraser University. I am privileged to be in both the Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies in Criminology and the Faculty of Business Administration. I have researched and published in criminology for more than 15 years. My doctoral training was in social psychology and quantitative methods. And my academic research has been published in criminology, political science as well as business journals.

My remarks are directed to the question of whether or not incarcerating serious or violent offenders is effective in protecting the public. My reading of the criminological research suggests that imprisoning serious offenders is indeed effective, that increasing the number of offenders who are incarcerated acts to reduce violent crime rates. This effect is especially pronounced with homicide rates.

The research supports the wisdom of imprisoning those who have been convicted of serious offences, that is, those punishable by prison terms of 10 years or longer.

Read the entire presentation.

June 30, 2006

United Nations Small Arms Meeting -- New York

Mauser UN Presentation
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Speech in pdf

United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

Professor Mauser in New York at The UN Disarmament Conference made this presentation on June 30, 2006.

Mauser United Nations Presentation

Brazil United Nations Presentation

June 23, 2006

Gun Registry Myths

registry myths
Click to download Paper in pdf

Claim #1: The registry allows the police to know where the guns are

Facts: The registry provides false security. There are too many errors and omissions in the registry for any police officer to trust the registry.

· Approximately half of all firearms are in registry

· Criminals do not register their firearms

· The RCMP does not trust the registry and cannot use it in court.

· The RCMP found 42% - 91% of registrations or licences have errors

· 4,438 stolen firearms were accidentally re-registered to new owners

Sources: Auditor General of Canada, Garry Breitkreuz, MP.

Claim #2: Police investigations are aided by the registry

Facts: The government has not been able to show that the registry has ever been critical to solving a single violent crime

Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino: "(The) law registering firearms has neither deterred these crimes nor helped us solve any of them. None of the guns we know to have been used were registered .... (T)he money could be more effectively used for security against terrorism as well as a host of other public safety initiatives." (Source: News Release, Ontario Minister of Public Safety and Security, Jan 3, 2003)

We need a registry of high-risk persons. " After the gun registry," Fraser Forum.

Claim #3: The registry is used frequently by "public safety officers"

Facts: Activity is not a measure of effectiveness

· The bulk of queries are generated by automatic checks of driving licences

· Multiple entries are made for each firearm transfer

· Maintaining any data base requires a lot of activity

Source: Will Gun Control Make Us Safe? Ontario Police College Presentation, Auditor General of Canada.

Claim #4: Deaths involving firearms have declined

Facts: No lives have been saved

· Total homicide rate has increased since 1998

· Total suicides have increased despite drop in gun-related suicides

Click to view full size

Click to view full size

June 15, 2006

Fraser Forum - After the gun registry

Fraser Forum
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The gun registry is a failure and should be scrapped. But if it is scrapped, how will we be able to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them?

I will argue here that it makes more sense to create a registry of people who should not have firearms, rather than a list of people who should, a “high-risk persons” registry, in other words. Given that our goal is to protect the public, it makes more sense to focus on the group that poses the greater risk. High-risk people are those who have proven themselves to be dangerous or violent. In contrast, gun owners merely have the potential to be dangerous.

There are many fewer high-risk people than there are guns or gun owners. There are between 2 and 7 million gun owners and between 12 and 15 million guns in Canada (Mauser, 2006). No one knows the exact number, but these are the best estimates available. In contrast, there are only an estimated 400,000 criminals and other high-risk individuals who should not be allowed to have firearms (Breitkreuz, 2004a).

May 10, 2006
Sorensen SALW
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Professor Gary Mauser wrote Kevin Sorenson, MP, Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development about Canada's National Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).

Mauser writes:
I recently attended a meeting of the Canadian National Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) at Foreign Affairs Canada and was shocked at what I was told.

I am writing to ask that you review the attached report before it is presented to the United Nations in June.

The chair of this committee, Earl Turcotte, reported that, even though they do not have a mandate from the new Conservative government, they intend to continue acting as if they had.

The Canadian National Committee on SALW has spent tens of millions of dollars - possibly hundreds of millions -- on a large number of vague "feel good" projects around the world. At least 24 different international programs and initiatives are listed as being funded or largely funded by them. (These are listed in the Report appended to this letter).

The SALW Committee is downplaying the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of these projects in attaining their stated goals of reducing terrorism, criminal violence or suicide. There is no convincing empirical support for the success of these projects.

Apparently, one of the primary goals of this committee, set by the previous government, is to embarrass the United States at the United Nations. I hope that a Conservative government would wish to stop supporting a committee that purposefully undermines the government's stated aims of improving relations with the United States.

Mr. Turcotte stated that the United Nations mandate for the 2001 "Program of Action on SALWs" expires this year, and it needs to be renewed for the Canadian National Committee on SALW to continue. If the Conservatives act quickly it may be possible to stop this Liberal boondoggle in Foreign Affairs..

Another goal of this committee is to urge the United Nations to abandon the practice of decision-making by consensus that currently exists in UN committees. Given that a small minority of countries pays the bills at the UN, the United States strongly opposes such an irresponsible practice.


Guns and Gangs: What should we do?

Gangs and Guns
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Professor Gary Mauser, recently made a presentation on Guns and Gangs: What should we do? for the Fraser Institute.

Click on the graphic, to start the presentation. If you have questions, you may contact Professor Mauser

Mauser Presentation in Adobe pdf

Hubris in the North

Hubris in the North
This paper is an invited keynote presentation to: In the Right Hands - an international firearm safety seminar, to be held at Christchurch, New Zealand, 21-23 February 2006. This seminar is co-hosted by the New Zealand Police, New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, and New Zealand Council of Licensed Firearm Owners.


This paper is a preliminary effort to evaluate the effects of the 1998 firearm registry on public safety. The Federal Government saw the firearm registry as crucial for reducing criminal violence and for saving lives. The government's approach to public safety relied upon an unscientific analysis of firearms and violence that, as a result of its acceptance of public health research, greatly exaggerated the dangers of lawful firearm ownership. In this paper I criticize public health research methods as being moralistic and pseudoscientific. The Federal Government's approach to public safety is compared with a provincial program that is more consultative.

The results show that since the firearm registry was implemented, the number of firearm owners has significantly declined, as well as the number of firearm crimes and the number of firearms-related deaths. Nevertheless, public safety cannot be said to have improved because overall criminal violence and suicide rates remain stubbornly stable. The violent crime rate has declined by only 4% since the registry was implemented, but the homicide rate has actually increased by more than 3%. Perhaps the most striking change is that gang-related homicides and homicides involving handguns have increased substantially. Overall suicide rates have declined by just 2% since the registry began. Despite a drop in suicides involving firearms, hangings have increased nearly cancelling out the drop in firearm suicides. No persuasive link can be found between the firearm registry and any of these small changes. In comparison, the provincial hunter-safety program has more modest goals, i.e., to reduce hunting and firearm accidents, but limited evidence suggests that it is effective in actually saving lives.

“Trouble in Paradise: Small Arms in the Pacific”: A Brief Critique

This paper provides a brief review of a 2003 study by Alpers and Twyford in which they claim that the availability of civilian firearms contributes to criminal violence in the Pacific region. The authors admit that they could not collect any information on illegal or smuggled firearms, but instead they chose to focus on firearms that are legally owned. Despite recognizing that the principal source of illegal arms in the Pacific is police armouries, these authors conclude that the most important next step to solving the problems of criminal violence in the region is to introduce more restrictive firearms laws and to disarm civilians. This is a stunning non sequitur as the authors merely assume their conclusion. Their study provides no empirical support that civilian ownership of firearms poses any potential for criminal or terrorist misuse.

The drive to introduce further restrictions on civilian firearm ownership in the Pacific is based upon the fallacy that the availability of civilian firearms exacerbates criminal violence. If this were true, then logically there would be higher levels of crime where there are higher densities of gun ownership. This is not the case. Alpers and Twyford imply that legal firearms in the hands of civilians are somehow the most important factor in destabilization. This is false. The problem lies with illicit firearms, not legal firearms. Contrary to what Alpers and Twyford claim, there is no empirical support for criminals or terrorists obtaining significant numbers of firearms from civilians in any of the countries in the Pacific region. Alpers and Twyford claim that criminals obtain the bulk of their firearms from police armouries or from home-made weapons in the South Pacific. This is a further internal contradiction in their study.

A review of the evidence at the international level undermines the claim that criminal violence in a country is strongly linked to civilian firearm ownership (Greenwood, 2000; Kates, 2003; Malcolm, 2005). Other factors, such as economic development and illegal drugs, are more important (Kopel, 2005; Miron, 2001). It would therefore be ineffective to base either national or regional laws on attempts to restrict civilian firearm ownership.

Read the complete paper in Adobe Acrobat.

National Experiences with Firearms Regulations: Evaluating the Implications for Public Safety

Tower of London
Presented at the Tower of London Symposium on the Legal, Economic and Human Rights Implications of Civilian Firearms Ownership and Regulation, 2 May 2003

Do firearm regulations create a safer society?

  • Modern gun regulations appear to follow televised gun crime.

  • Politicians promise that more restrictive gun laws will make society safer.

  • But do they?

There were over eight hours of presentations at this landmark symposium. Distilled from that program is the DVD, "A Question of Balance", which is 56 minutes long and includes numerous graphics, video footage and photos, as well as a special 13-minute overview of major topics covered.

Speakers covered important issues including: the futility of gun registration as a deterrent against crime, the popularity of shooting in Switzerland, gun ownership as a protection from genocide, women and firearms, the importance of shooting sports as a form of recreation, and advice from the firearms industry on how to regulate trade.

The DVD is extremely informative and appropriate for libraries and schools, as well as for giving to decision-makers.

To get a copy of A Question of Balance Contact The World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities (WFSA).
Read the complete presentation

Armed Self Defence; The Canadian Case

Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the annual meetings of the Canadian Law and Society Association in Calgary, Alberta, 12-14 April 1994, and at the American Society of Criminology meetings in Phoenix, AZ, 27-30 October 1993.

*The author wishes to thank Taylor Buckner for his help in designing the survey instrument. The author also would like to thank Colleen Collins-Dodd, Al Smithies, Mark Wexler, and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful criticism of earlier drafts of this paper.


There is a vigorous debate over the frequency with which private citizens resort to the use of firearms for self defense. No information has been previously available about how often firearms are used defensively outside of the United States. This paper estimates the frequency with which firearms are used for self protection by analyzing three telephone surveys of the general public in Canada and a fourth survey of the general public in the United States. Canadians report using firearms to protect themselves between 60,000 and 80,000 times per year from dangerous people or animals. More importantly, between 19,000 and 37,500 of these incidents involve defense against human threats. The results of the American survey confirm estimates about the frequency firearms are used for self protection in the United States (Kleck 1988, 1991). In comparison with the number of households with firearms, the frequency with which Canadians use firearms to defend themselves against human threats is somewhat less than that of Americans. Policy makers in both the United States and in Canada should be aware the private ownership of firearms has benefits as well as costs for society. Firearms bans may cost more lives than they save.

Armed Self Defense: The Canadian Case Adobe pdf file.

Armed Self Defense: The Canadian Case html document.

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