Australian Institute of Criminology

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Crime Institute to monitor firearm controls

Media Release

05 December 1996

The Australian Institute of Criminology announced details today of the national program it will run to monitor the effectiveness of uniform gun controls.

The Institute was given the responsibility of this program by the Australian Police Ministers Council, following the Port Arthur tragedy.

Addressing the Australian Sociological Association Conference in Hobart today, the Director of the AIC, Dr Adam Graycar, said that the program would cover these areas:

  • the numbers and types of firearms in Australia
  • the numbers and characteristics of people licensed to possess and use firearms
  • deaths and injuries (homicidal, suicidal and accidental; single and multiple) caused by firearms
  • firearms-related offences generally.
The Institute would provide Australian Police Ministers with an annual report covering these areas, Dr Graycar said today.

"I am sure that the collection of this data will give policy makers and indeed all Australians a better picture of the role of guns in our society than has ever been available," Dr Graycar said. "With this information, we at least will know the true basis on which policy decisions may be made."


Fact sheet

This fact sheet gives a sketch of gun related incidents as we now know it.

  • There have been 24 known mass firearm killings since 1987 - resulting in 128 deaths, an average of 13 a year.
  • There were 519 firearm deaths in 1994.
  • 81% (420) of firearm deaths in Australia in 1994 were suicides. 15% (79) were homicides and 4% (20) were accidents.
  • There were 332 homicide victims in 1994 and 2258 suicides. A firearm was used in 1 in 4 homicides and 1 in 5 suicides. At least one suicide death by firearm occurs each day and every fourth day one person is killed by another with the use of a firearm.
  • The rate of suicide in towns and rural areas is almost four times greater than in capital cities and the highest rate of suicide by firearm is among men over 60.
  • The majority of homicides (55%) occur in the home. Not only is the home more dangerous than the street from a homicide risk perspective but the chances of a firearm being used in the home are higher than on the street.
  • One third of all homicides take place within the family and another one third takes place among friends and acquaintances. Only 11% take place among strangers and, of the stranger homicides, less than 10% involve a firearm.
  • Males comprise 61% of homicide victims and females 39% but males make up 89% of persons accused of a firearms homicide while females make up 11%.
  • Australia's rate of firearm-related homicide is 0.4 per 100,000 population compared with 0.7 in Canada and 6.3 in the USA. In the United Kingdom, the firearm homicide rate is 0.1 per 100,000.