SA Police Commissioner’s handgun statistics error
5AA Pilkington & Conlon program, 28/10/08 08.38am
SA Police Commissioner Mal Hyde talks about police issues and explains handgun statistics and who can obtain firearms legally.
Jane Doyle: Speaking of numbers, can you clarify for us, there’s been some reports about handgun ownership and the numbers of handguns and they’ve been quite terrifying. We were told that South Australia has the largest number of registered handguns in the country. Is that right?
Mal Hyde: That’s the way it was reported and that came from a Commonwealth report. I think the figure was 41,000, which was really quite disproportionate for the population here. Unfortunately, and that is unfortunately for us, we actually gave them the wrong figures.
Jane Doyle: Whoops.
Mal Hyde: Yes, so I’ll have to clarify that, not quite sure what we have to do to fix that up. But the real figure’s around 14,300.
Jane Doyle: Not 41,000.
Mal Hyde: Not 41,000 no.
Jane Doyle: As was reported.
Mal Hyde: And that’s fairly well proportionate with the population.
Jane Doyle: Can I just clarify? If you’re not a sporting shooter, is there any other legitimate way you can get a registered handgun in South Australia?
Mal Hyde: Yes, people in the security industry for example. So there are employment.
Jane Doyle: Police obviously.
Mal Hyde: Police obviously. They don’t have to get licensed of course, but employment, sporting shooters and things like that.
Jane Doyle: But unless you’re employed in the security industry, unless you’re a policeman with a government-issued handgun or you’re a registered sporting shooter, there’s no other way you could justify having a handgun in this state is there?
Mal Hyde: They’re essentially the biggest categories, but I’d have to go to the legislation to check out what the possibilities are.
Jane Doyle: Not just because you want one.
Mal Hyde: Not because you want one, no.
Keith Conlon: And of course this is in the context of 16 gun crimes in Adelaide since July. What’s up?
Mal Hyde: Essentially, it’s difficult to know exactly whether or not firearm offences are up. Obviously, you go by your base statistics, which is the crime figures. They aren’t really showing much of an increase over time. Only 0.2 per cent of our reported offences are related to firearms, so very low. When you look at homicides over the last five years, 98 murders, and only seven have involved firearms. And so it’s not the case that there’s a big use of firearms there.
Keith Conlon: That would be very different from say the States.
Mal Hyde: Oh absolutely. And then you go back over the last 20 years and they’re much higher than that seven per cent as well. So the fewer the firearms are in the community, the better off the community is.