November 22, 2018 / 1:08 AM / 25 days ago

Canada's murder rate hits near 10-year high in 2017 on gun deaths

FILE PHOTO: A police officer guards the scene of a mass shooting in Toronto, Canada, July 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s murder rate in 2017 jumped by 7 percent to a near 10-year high and gun-related deaths were the highest in 25 years, Statistics Canada said on Wednesday.

Police reported 660 homicide victims in Canada in 2017, 48 more than in 2016. The murder rate was 1.8 victims per 100,000 people, the highest level since 2009. (Report: bit.ly/2Dzm1RA)

By comparison, FBI data show the U.S. murder rate was 5.4 victims per 100,000 people in 2017.

Canada has been hit by a rash of shooting deaths this year, particularly in major cities like Toronto. The national firearm-related homicide rate increased 18 percent from 2016 to 0.72 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1992.

Amid the rise in violence, Canada’s federal government - which says many guns are smuggled in from the United States - introduced gun laws earlier this year that would require retailer record-keeping and beef up background checks.

In 2017, there were 266 firearm-related homicides reported in Canada, 43 more than in 2016.

“Firearm-related homicides have been rising since 2014, and gang-related violence has been the primary driver,” Statistics Canada said in the report.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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