The two graphs below show how the rates of firearm homicide and firearm suicide have varied in Australia over the period 1915 to 2006. More recent figures (up to 2009) suggest that the rates remain near 0.1 per 100,000 of population for firearm homicide and 0.8 per 100,000 of population for firearm suicide. It is clear that the declines in death rates are associated with the list of stricter gun laws introduced, as shown on the right hand side of each graph.
Several Australian gun clubs are deceiving the public by claiming that the National Firearms Agreement of 1996 has not been successful. The Sporting Shooters Association (SSAA) and the International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting are two examples. We believe that soon our politicians will realise that it is often unwise to trust gun club leaders on gun law matters.
The two graphs shown below use Australian Bureau of Statistics data, they show how the number of deaths by firearm homicide and firearm suicide have been greatly reduced since stricter gun laws were introduced after 32 people were murdered in six massacres by legal gun owners in 1987, and 41 people were murdered by non-criminal gun owners in two massacres in 1996.
The improved gun laws after 1996 are usually called the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) or sometimes referred to as the Howard gun laws.
From the graphs it can be seen that the reduction in yearly rates of firearm homicide and firearm suicide are approximately two thirds of what they used to be in the days before improvements were made to the laws (The long period of approx 30 years between 1956 and 1986). Thousands of lives have been saved: why do the gun clubs deny this? Are they ashamed of their stance that more Australians would die?
It took over a decade for the full worth of the post-1987 and post-1996 gun laws to be revealed, but the facts are known now and have been known for several years.
In our opinion, over a decade’s examination of gun incidents has also revealed that there were two weaknesses in the NFA, the superficiality of shooter training and insufficient rigour in several of the regulations relating to gun storage. These could be addressed now, and should be, without any major changes to the successful structure of the NFA.