Gun report poses risk to health and safety

The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) is concerned a Tasmanian report undermines the importance of suicide prevention programs and policing initiatives. The report claims that gun laws created declines in firearm suicides and firearm crime, but it has been revealed that the results were produced by flawed analysis methods.

SSAA National Research Coordinator, Dr Jeanine Baker, explained that “the apparent drops in firearm misuse after legislation occurred purely because averaged ‘groups’, rather than continuous time series, were analysed. Firearm misuse, whether in suicide or homicide, has been decreasing steadily for decades, but the statistical influence of this decline was overlooked. This has produced very misleading results.”

Firearms suicide throughout Australia declined consistently since the 1980’s, but Tasmanian suicide rates overall did not decrease following the 1996 National Firearms Agreement. The report also neglected to discuss why, although the number of firearms owned in Tasmania kept increasing after 1996, the firearm suicide rate continued its pre-existing decline.

Dr Baker emphasised that “this shows the complexity of the issues. Suggestions that the laws ‘caused’ declines in Tasmanian firearm suicides or firearm crime are based on unsuitable, oversimplified analysis methods. Troublingly, whenever legislation is promoted as a solution to suicide or crime, the public miss out. Every dollar misdirected into buyback schemes is a dollar that could have gone towards suicide prevention, health services, or police numbers.”

“Sadly, legislation has not made the Tasmanian community safer, and in fact the report admits to a 90% increase in crime since 1994. The research confirms SSAA’s long held view that safe storage reduces firearms theft, but that finding provides scant justification for the $63 000 expended in data collection” finished Dr Baker.

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