Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

Firearms related deaths

Media Release

02 June 1999

Media release from Senator, the Hon Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Justice and Customs

Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, today released a paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology which shows a reduction in firearms-related deaths since the introduction of the national firearms agreement.

"The paper, one of the AIC's Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice series, shows that between 1996 and 1997 deaths from firearms decreased from 523 to 438, or from 2.96 per 100,000 persons to 2.36 per 100,000 persons," Senator Vanstone said.

"The decline in total firearm related deaths was mainly due to a decline in suicides and accidents with firearms."

"Homicides with a firearm decreased from 104 in 1996 to 79 in 1997, though it should be noted that the 1996 figures include the 35 deaths at Port Arthur."

"The Institute points out that there is some evidence which suggests that laws governing the ownership and possession of firearms can have a long term effect on firearm related deaths."

"The paper found that the two states, Tasmania and Queensland, with the most permissive laws prior to 1997 have had consistently higher rates of firearms related deaths than the national average."

"We need to treat these findings with some caution. The paper highlights that it is still too early to fully evaluate the impact of the national agreement on firearms."

"The Federal Government's initiatives to reduce the number of dangerous weapons in the community are still very new. What can be said however, is that the national firearms agreement did succeed in removing more than 640,000 dangerous weapons from circulation in the community. This is important in providing the community with a greater sense of safety."

"What this AIC paper highlights is that we need more research. The Australian Institute of Criminology's national firearms monitoring program establishes important baseline data for future years."