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Firearms and Violent Crime in New South Wales

NCJ Number
Jacqueline Fitzgerald; Suzanne Briscoe; Dan Weatherburn
Date Published
May 2001
8 pages
This bulletin examined whether offenses that involved firearms, particularly handguns, were increasing in New South Wales (Australia).
Over the last 3 years, New South Wales experienced a number of shootings and murders by firearms that were widely reported in the press. Still, this analysis of relevant data showed that the number of murders involving firearms in New South Wales actually decreased between 1995 and 2000, as did the incidence of robbery with a firearm between 1997 and 2000; however, the number of shooting offenses increased between 1995 and 2000, particularly in parts of Southwestern Sydney, where drug trafficking was a problem. Police data showed that young adult males were especially prone to involvement in firearm offenses. This report used United States data on homicides committed by youth using handguns to highlight the importance of limiting the acquisition of handguns by youth. Strategies to reduce the spread of handguns are discussed. The authors noted that in New South Wales, only additional gun barrels must be registered, but the frame of the firearm does not. Thus, a criminal can legally buy a firearm frame without having to meet the requirements for registration. By purchasing a conversion kit from another State, an offender can build the gun from scratch, resulting in a fully functional weapon that has no registration or record of ownership. Under proposed amendments to the New South Wales Firearms Act, it will become necessary to register firearm frames that are not already part of a registered firearm, as well as spare barrels. It will also become an offense to sell or purchase firearm parts without a license or to supply firearms to persons not authorized to possess or use firearms. 8 notes, 16 references, 2 tables, and 5 figures