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Response from the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (NSW) for a FactCheck Q&A on gun buybacks and gun deaths

During a discussion about gun control on an episode of Q&A, Diana Melham, executive director of the NSW branch of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, said there was research to show the government-funded gun buybacks in 1996 and 2003 had “no effect in reducing the number of firearms deaths” in Australia.

For this FactCheck, The Conversation asked Melham for sources to support her statement.

Melham pointed The Conversation to “a direct quote from the University of Melbourne’s independent study by Lee and Suardi, 2008”, which states:

… the National Firearms Agreement did not have any large effects on reducing firearm homicide or suicide rates.

Melham added:

Homicides using a firearm were on the decline well before the anomaly of the Port Arthur murders. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s firearm injuries and deaths report 2017 clearly shows that firearm-related deaths began steadily decreasing from 1991, five years before the National Firearms Agreement was introduced.

Age-standardised rates of firearm-related deaths, by sex, 1983 to 2011. AIHW: Harrison&Henley 2014

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that the crude firearm death rate declined from 4.8 deaths per 100,000 in 1980 to 2.6 in 1995 – again, before the National Firearms Agreement.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data also show that firearm deaths (including suicide) fell by 46% during the 16 year period (1980 to 1995) without any drastic changes to firearm laws.

Public safety is almost always threatened by the unlicensed person with the unregistered firearm in the rare case where firearms are involved, with more than 93% of firearms used in homicides in 2006-07 found to be unlicensed and unregistered.

By contrast, the New Zealand experience shows similar statistical trends with a very different regulatory environment.

This demonstrates the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia’s worst fears: that the National Firearms Agreement was a costly failure that saw millions of taxpayers’ money spent on gun buybacks with no public safety benefit.

– Diana Melham, executive director, Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (NSW)

You can read the FactCheck here.

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