Australian Institute of Criminology

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Firearm deaths drop by almost 50 per cent

Media Release

02 January 2004

The number of firearm deaths in Australia dropped by almost 50 per cent during the period 1991-2001, the Acting AIC Director, Dr Toni Makkai said today.

This information is contained in the latest in a series of papers produced as part of the Australian Institute of Criminology's National Firearms Monitoring Program.

This program was established in 1997 by the Australasian Police Ministers' Council to monitor the effects of the firearms controls introduced by the Australian Government in 1996.

The report found a total of 5,083 firearm related deaths during the 11 year period with suicides accounting for the majority (77 per cent). Homicide accounted for a further 15 per cent and accidental deaths accounted for five per cent.

Males and females aged 24-34 years were the most likely to be involved in firearm related deaths in Australia. People under the age of 15 were the least likely to be involved.

Nine out of 10 firearm related deaths involved males. This gender distribution remained the same over the 11 year period.

While males aged 65 years and older accounted for the largest number of firearm suicide deaths, in line with the general findings of the study, this number also dropped by almost 50 per cent.

The report also indicates that handguns are now being used more often in firearm related deaths.