Gun Killings Down – Gun Control Success

The recently released ABS statistics show a dramatic drop in Australian gun deaths for 1998. These figures are shown below. They exhibit the same tendency to decline which was shown in the 1997 figures.

The continued reduction in the number of Australians being killed by guns strongly suggests that the stricter gun laws which have been
put into place throughout Australia during the 1990′s have saved many hundred’s of lives.

A decade ago, in 1988, just before the stricter gun laws started to operate, 696 people died from gun wounds. Last year, 1998, there were 327 gun deaths. Gun suicides and gun homicides have been halved in the last ten years.

In 1998 there were 21 deaths from accidental or careless gun use. Although there has been a moderate decline in the number of accidental gun deaths in the 1990′s compared with the 1980′s there are still far too many dying from gun accidents.

The time has come for all eight Australian gun law jurisdictions to develop a serious training and testing regime for all shooters. The death near Warburton this year of Gary Patterson, at the hands of a young deer shooter, is a tragic example of the weakness in Victoria’s Shooters Licence program.

In February 2000 the police ministers will start examining improvements to the training and testing programs for shooters. Before them is a most inadequate and out of date proposal made by a commercial organisation. It would be a tragedy if this childish program serves as the basis for deciding who gets a gun.

Strict gun laws are helping to save thousands of Australian lives. We need a thorough training and testing program for all shooters, not the play-time ideas being presently proposed by a commercial organisation.

Australia Gun Deaths – Totals

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

Accident

30

19

30

29

24

18

20

15

30

19

21

Suicide

521

451

488

510

490

435

420

388

382

330

234

Assault

124

80

79

84

96

64

79

67

104

79

57

Legal Int.

4

7

4

6

14

3

7

6

0

7

7

Unknown

17

15

15

5

7

6

0

3

5

2

8

Totals

696

572

617

634

631

526

526

479

521

437

327

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics