Australian Institute of Criminology

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Decline in firearm-related hospitalisations

Media Release

02 April 2001

Figures released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology show that the number of people treated in hospitals for firearm-related injuries fell from 616 to 473 (a reduction of 30 percent) in the five years to 1999. This is in line with a significant drop in firearm-related deaths.

In releasing the figures, Dr Adam Graycar, AIC Director, highlighted the limited availability of published information on the number and types of firearm injuries recorded in Australia. "The need for such information has become increasingly important, especially since the introduction of firearms regulations limiting access to firearms", he stated.

The figures are contained in a report, Firearm-related Morbidity in Australia 1994-95 to 1998-99 by Jenny Mouzos. Other facts outlined in the report include:

  • About half of firearm incidents giving rise to hospital treatment in Australia are unintentional. Hospital treatment due to self-inflicted firearm injuries accounted for approximately 16 to 21 per cent during the five-year period. Just under one-quarter of all firearm-related hospital treatments were due to assault. Injuries as a result of law enforcement officers performing their legal duties accounted for just one to two per cent of all recorded firearm-related hospital treatments in Australia.
  • Based on the available information where the type of firearm was recorded (excluding legal intervention and undetermined injuries) most firearm-related injuries were committed with a shotgun (36.1%), a hunting rifle (32.6%) or a handgun (28.5%). About 3 per cent were committed with a military firearm.
  • About nine out of ten firearm-related hospital treatments during the five-year period involved males.
  • Similar to males, the largest proportion of hospital treatments involving females was for accidental injuries (43.4%), and assaults (32.3%).
  • The paper emphasises that firearm-related hospital treatments do not measure the incidence of firearm-related injuries in Australia, as not all persons who suffer firearm-related injuries seek medical attention at a hospital and are admitted.