This report presents an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Tasmanian Firearms Act 1996 in reducing the number of firearms available in Tasmania.
Following a mass murder at Port Arthur in 1996, all aspects of gun ownership in Tasmania, known for its high level of firearm ownership, were tightened with the passage of the Firearms Act 1996. The objectives of the current evaluation are to examine the extent to which the Firearms Act 1996 has decreased the availability of guns in Tasmania, thereby decreasing gun crime and gun trauma, and to determine whether there are enforcement problems with the Act. The scope of the evaluation thus focused on the effectiveness of the Tasmania Police in enforcing the Firearms Act 1996. Evaluation methodology involved a review of police performance, an analysis of police data regarding firearms, and a review of medical and other relevant statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services. The evaluation took place between June 2004 and March 2005. Evaluation findings indicated that the overall impact of the Firearms Act 1996 has reduced firearm ownership and limited access to firearms in Tasmania. Significant reductions have occurred in gun-related crimes and gun-related trauma. Some challenges to enforcement were noted, including the inability of police to assess the mental condition of license applicants and the lack of cooperation between the Firearms Services and Corporate Information Technology. Recommendations are offered and include broadening the scope of ongoing random inspections of gun storage conditions within license holders’ premises. Figures, table
Tasmania Audit Office
GPO Box 851, Hobart, Tasmania 7001 Australia, Australia
Auditor-General Special Report No. 55; downloaded July 27, 2005.