Comments on the Article ..."Gun Control and Rates of Firearms Violence in Canada and the United States" by Robert J. Mundt
Hung, C. Kwing, Canadian Journal of Criminology
The major thesis of the article by Mundt (1990) is that parallel trends in violent firearm crimes, firearm suicides, and firearm accidental deaths in both the U.S. and Canada prove that the decrease in firearm crimes and deaths in Canada is "part of a secular trend as in the United States", not the result of firearm control legislation in Canada.
A detailed examination, however, reveals that the article is badly flawed with factual inaccuracies (using wrong numbers), logical inconsistencies (using inappropriate data and deriving conclusions not apparent from the data analyzed), and methodological fallacies (using unproven assumptions). The trends in the two countries are, in fact, not parallel. The analysis and the conclusion of the article are thus erroneous. Contrary to the article, it is clear from the available data that decreases in firearm crimes and firearm deaths in Canada are much steeper than in the U.S. and are most likely the result of the 1978 firearm control legislation.
(1) On page 140, paragraph 1, Mundt states, "Rates for 1986 and 1987 were lower, but that for 1987 is exactly at the mean for the years 1974 -- 1987." The actual 1987 homicide rate was 2.51 per 100,000 population while the average rate for 1974-1987 was 2.71 per 100,000. Thus the 1987 rate was 8% lower than the 1974-1987 rate.
(2) In the last sentence on page 140, Mundt says, "However, the 1985 rate is still higher than the five-year mean for 1974-1978; ..." Yet the data show an average firearm robbery rate of 32.2 per 100,000 population in 1974-1978, as compared to the 1985 rate of 27 per 100,000. Thus the 1987 rate was actually 15% lower.
This apparent error can be explained by the fact that the above statement describes "armed robbery" (including robberies using firearms as well as other weapons), not "firearm robbery". But the sudden shift from "firearm robbery" in the first sentence of the paragraph to "armed robbery" in the second sentence is not clearly indicated and can create a false impression. Furthermore, as the article is about firearms, the use of "armed robbery" instead of "firearm robbery" is unjustified, except if the author intends to prove a point not characteristic of firearm robberies.
(3) Mundt asserts in the same last sentence of page 140, "... the U.S. rate for 1985 is significantly lower than its 1974-1978 mean." According to Figure 3 of the article, however, the 1985 rate is only slightly lower (by not more than 5%) than the 1974-1978 average rate and is definitely not "significant".
(4) Figure 3 on page 143 shows the rates of armed robbery (not firearm robbery) from 1974 to 1985 while Figure 4 (page 145) shows the percentages of firearm robbery from 1974 to 1988. Two questions can be asked. First, since data for firearm robbery are clearly available to the author, why would he use armed robbery" in one and "firearm robbery" in the other without clear indication of the shift? Second, why did the author not include the data for 1986 to 1988 for Figure 3?
(5) On page 144, paragraph 1, the article reads, "Because we do not have comparable data prior to 1977 in Canada, ..." In reality, the data are available from the same data source which the author used for Figure 4 on page 145.
There are two kinds of logical inconsistencies in Mundt's article: (a) the use of inappropriate data (points 1, 4, 5 in the following), and (b) the inappropriate conclusion derived from data analysis (points 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9). (1) The arguments in paragraph 1 and 2 of page 140 are based mostly on all homicides (18 lines of analysis in the article)instead of firearm homicides (7 lines of analysis). This line of argument is inappropriate since the emphasis is on firearms. Furthermore, the analysis is inaccurate as demonstrated in the next paragraph.
(2) Mundt compares firearm homicide in the U. …