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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's murder rate in 2013 dropped for the second year in a row, falling to a 47-year low of just 1.44 victims per 100,000 people, official data showed on Monday.
By contrast, the murder rate in the neighboring United States, where gun laws are generally more relaxed, was 4.8 per 100,000 people in 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available. The rate in Canada was the lowest since 1966.
Statistics Canada said police reported 505 murders in 2013, 38 fewer than in 2012. The drop was due to 40 fewer homicides in the province of Quebec, which followed two years with higher than average numbers.
Canada's right-leaning Conservative government said the data showed the worth of official moves to increase jail sentences for certain offenses.
"When the criminals are kept in jail longer, they are not out committing crimes and the crime rate will decrease," said Jason Tamming, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.
Overall, the homicide rates in eight of Canada's 10 provinces were below their 10-year averages in 2013.
Stabbings accounted for 40 percent of all murders, while shootings were responsible for 27 percent. Almost 90 percent of victims in solved homicides knew their murderer.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway