On the same day that the latest causes of death figures were published, notorious hoplophobe Roland Browne has embarrassed himself with erroneous claims about the real effect Howard’s knee-jerk changes to Australia’s gun laws have had on suicide rates. Gun Control Australia’s (GCA) Roland Browne told The Daily Telegraph that: “The reforms to the gun laws saw dramatic decreases in suicide rates and gun death rates across Australia, a reduction in violence in the home and reduction in assaults with guns.”
Unfortunately for Mr Browne, the reality is that homicides using a firearm were on the decline well before the anomaly of the Port Arthur murders. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data indicates firearm deaths, including suicide, fell by 46 per cent during the 15-year period (1980 to 1995) leading up to the incident, without any drastic changes to firearm laws.
The latest figures issued by the ABS on September 29 show that using firearms as a self-harm method remains steady, accounting for 5.8 per cent of total suicides in 2015 (177 people), with hanging, poisoning and “other” methods the more common methods by far (85 per cent of deaths). Sharp objects were used in assault cases causing death in 104 cases, compared to firearms used in just 27 cases. The suicide rate overall has decreased slightly across many decades, well before the introduction of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
His erroneous remarks about violence in the home sees Mr Browne fail to acknowledge the “epidemic” of domestic violence in Australia, with one in six women and one in 20 men reportedly experiencing at least one incidence of violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15. Mr Browne has once again downplayed the impact other forms of violence has on victims in his quest to paint all firearms – legal or illegal – as the biggest threat to society.