4397.0 - Firearms Deaths, Australia, 1980 to 1995  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/02/1997  Ceased
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February 26, 1997
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
More than 10,000 firearms deaths in 16 years - ABS

A nation-wide analysis of firearms deaths has found there were 10,150 firearm related deaths over the 16 years from 1980 to 1995. These accounted for 0.5 per cent of all deaths registered.

Full results of the analysis by the Australian Bureau of Statistics were released today in the publication Firearms Deaths Australia, 1980-95. The figures were collated from the data on registered deaths maintained by the Registrars of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in the States and Territories.

The analysis found that 78 per cent of firearms deaths were suicides. A further 15 per cent were homicides and 5 per cent were accidents. Males made up 89 per cent of all firearm deaths.

Over the period there were 210 firearms deaths of children under the age of 15 years. Almost half of the child firearm deaths were homicides (46 per cent) and a further 30 per cent were accidents. However the highest firearm death rates occurred among those aged 15-34 years. Among adult age groups, most firearm deaths were suicides (over 70 per cent in each age group).

While the type of weapon used can be recorded on death certificates as part of the cause of death details, about 37 per cent of deaths registered over the period contained insufficient information to classify the type of firearm involved. Of the remaining deaths, 63 per cent involved a hunting rifle and 30 per cent involved a shotgun. Information on whether the weapon used was automatic or semi-automatic is not available.

The number of firearms deaths and the death rate decreased over the reference period. The firearms death rate decreased from 4.8 deaths per 100,000 population in 1980-82 to 2.6 deaths in 1995. There were 700 firearms deaths in 1980 and 479 firearm deaths in 1995, the lowest number recorded in the 16-year period. The rates declined for both males and females and for the three major types of firearm death (accidents, suicides, homicides).

The firearm death rates for capital cities were higher than those for rural areas at the beginning of the period, but recorded greater declines than did the rates for rural areas. In 1992-94 the same average rates were recorded and in 1995 the rural rate was higher than that for capital cities.

Copies of the publication Firearms Deaths Australia, 1980-95 (cat. no. 4397.0) are available from ABS Bookshops.