Author Jacqueline Fitzgerald, Suzanne Briscoe and Don Weatherburn
Published May 2001
Report Type Crime and Justice Bulletin No. 57
Subject Assault; Murder; Robbery; Theft / Property crime; Weapons
Keywords firearms, handguns, shootings, attempted murder, robbery, assault

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The purpose of this bulletin is to provide statistical evidence bearing on the extent to which handguns and other kinds of firearms are being used in violent crime in NSW and to describe strategies which can or are being taken to deal with the problem.


Following several tragic deaths involving firearms in New South Wales, there has been much public speculation about whether offences involving firearms and particularly handguns are increasing. This bulletin discusses evidence bearing on this issue. It shows that the number of murders involving firearms in New South Wales actually fell between 1995 and 2000, as did the incidence of robbery with a firearm between 1997 and 2000. However the number of shooting offences rose between 1995 and 2000, particularly in parts of South Western Sydney. Police data show that young adult males are especially prone to involvement in firearm offences. United States data on homicides committed by youths using handguns are used to highlight the importance of limiting the acquisition of handguns by young people. Strategies to reduce the spread of handguns are discussed.