|Email to MP’s from COLFO dated 12 June 2012, subject – Australian Trend in Firearm Ownership and Robbery|
Dear Member of Parliament,
In this email we wish to share further research from Australia, specifically New South Wales (NSW), which considers if there is a link between the number of legally owned firearms in a community and the number of firearms reported stolen. It is relevant to consider Australia, as the requirements on Australian firearms owners are greater than New Zealand, to see if a more restrictive firearms ownership environment reflects a lower rate of firearms related crime.
As the attached article shows the number of firearms legally owned has increased over the 10 years from 2001 to 2011. However the number of firearms stolen from the pool of legal firearms has decreased.
This shows the number of firearms in a community does not directly relate to the number of firearm thefts. The reasons for the trend are not discussed but could be as a result of increasing security requirement reducing the opportunity for theft. Either way it dispels the myth that legally owned firearms present in the community feed into the criminal community either by theft or transfer.
I then looked further into the NSW experience looking at the New South Wales Crime Statistics for 2001 and 2011 at bocsar latest quarterly and annual reports.
I looked specifically at the robbery statistics, on the assumption that the most common use for a firearm by a criminal would be to commit a robbery.
It was interesting to find the following:
In the 10 years from 2001 to 2011 the number of registered firearms had increased by 138,859, or 22%, but the number of incidents where a firearm was used in a robbery had decreased by 41%. Over this time there has been changes in processes and reduced money handling in retail and banking sectors so it would seem reduced opportunity to commit robbery, has contributed more to reducing crime despite the increasing number of firearms in NSW. This is important as Australia embarked on an expensive buy back scheme attempting to reduce the number of firearms in communities, this has clearly been wasted money as there are now more firearms in Australia than prior to the buy back.
While this could be considered simplistic analysis there is no substantial evidence that increasing controls on law abiding citizens changes the behaviour of those that chose to ignore the law. Rather reducing the opportunity to commit crime reduces crime.
The population of New Zealand is smaller than New South Wales, around 60%, statistics available publicly in New Zealand from the Statistics NZ and NZ Police do not separate the use of a weapon from robbery statistics so it is not possible see the same trends.
However based on information in the Police Statistics National 2011 official stats.pdf, the New Zealand rate of robbery is slightly lower at 5.3 per 10,000 of population versus New South Wales at 6.7 per 10,000 of population in 2011.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email
Michael Dowling Chair COLFO
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