|LUCAS OLENIUK/TORONTO STAR|
One of our most popular maps has been one I produced last year showing gun ownership rates in the GTA by postal code.
Earlier this fall, I filed a fresh access-to-information request with the RCMP, asking for similar data. It is up-to-date to December 2009. Having both sets of numbers allows us to map change in gun licence rates. The earlier data was taken in July of 2008, so the map shows change over about 18 months.
The map shows gun ownership stable or falling in all but four Toronto postal codes, but rising in much of the 905. Gun ownership rose over the period in most postal codes in Caledon and parts of Ajax, Pickering and Oshawa.
It would be interesting to know what the numbers reflect. Does it map falling and rising numbers of gun owners, or different policing strategies? Toronto police have encouraged owners of unused firearms to turn them in; a strategy aimed at getting owners of unlicenced long guns to register them properly would show an increase. Or there could just be a rise in gun ownership in parts of the 905.
The map of gun licence rates shows more gun owners in rural areas. Within the suburban parts of the GTA, gun ownership is higher in Kleinburg, Woodbridge and Oshawa.
The total of gun licences is the sum of the possession-and-acquisition licences and the older grandfathered possession-only licences in any given case. In 13 of the 192 postal areas, the total fell below a privacy threshold (which seems to be about 20) and was censored.