|Email to MP’s from COLFO dated 20 May 2012, subject – Firearm Involvement in Suicide and Assault|
Dear Member of Parliament,
In this, the fourth email to update you on recent research in regards to firearms, I cover the issues of firearm involvement in suicide and assault.
As there are few incidents of this type in New Zealand it is difficult to get statistics that relate to the same periods, I have sourced similar periods.
Suicide – According to the NZ Health Information Service the rate of suicide doubled in New Zealand from 1983 to 2003.
NZ Police state the rate suicide by firearm has dropped from a peak in 1992 of 2.5 per 100,000 of population to 1 per 100,000 of population in 2007 The overall rate of suicide in 2007 was 11 per 100,000 of population.
It is clear the use of firearms is not the significant means of completing suicide.
In COLFO’s opinion the reason for the reduction in using a firearm in completing suicide is most likely as a result of removing easy access to firearms by improved security and identifying those at risk. However the fact remains while we as a society have removed firearms as a significant means of completing suicide we have not addressed the causes, resulting in an increasing rate of suicide.
Firearms legislation is not the solution to suicide in New Zealand.
I have attached recent research from Australia that shows a similar experience.
Our experience is important, as a number of countries banned some types of firearms on the basis that it would reduce the rate of suicide and homicide. As mentioned in this and my previous email our experience is that the rates have reduced in New Zealand similar to overseas, however in New Zealand this was without the expense of full firearm registration programs or buy back schemes.
Assault – As with homicide the majority of assaults are committed with knives or physical force, both using an inanimate object or not.
NZ Police statistics show that in 2007 they recorded 11,569 serious assault resulting in injury and 13.450 assaults in a public place, however these do not specify if a weapon was used and if, what type.
The Australian Institute of Criminology state in 2007 in Australia there were 18,527 violent crimes, 11,487 were committed without a weapon, 4,261 involved a knife, 1,482 involved a firearm and in 1,297 the weapon was identified as other.
Statistics on the www.areyouok.org.nz site reflect that there were 86,545 family violence incidents and offenses in 2008 and that half of all violent crime in New Zealand is family violence. While weapons of any type can increase the risk of injury or increase the risk of death controlling the means of inflicting harm does not address the cause.
In September 2010 as the long gun registration system was removed the Canadian spokesperson for the International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting (WiSH) made the observation that if a part of the over C$2 billion had been spend on supporting women escape violent relationships it would have had a greater effect on reducing the number of assaults and homicides.
The Council of Licensed Firearm Owners suggest that money spent on addressing the causes of assault, homicide and suicide rather than controlling a single means of inflicting harm would have greater effect on improving the safety of the New Zealand people.
Thank you for taking the time to review our work
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