LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News vol 4 no 4 Spring 1996  ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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Guns: Myth vs. Reality

Reprinted with the kind permission of the Coalition for Gun Control

Myth 1: Guns are mostly used by ‘crazies’, unlicensed shooters or criminals to kill people


  • Over 80% of the victims of multiple shootings in Australia and NZ between 1987 and ‘93 were shot by licensed gun owners with no previous history of violent crime or mental illness.
  • 80% of all gun deaths are suicides. Guns are the most common suicide method in the current rural youth suicide epidemic.
  • The largest single category of homicides is domestic. Guns are even more commonly used in domestic killings than in homicides in general. Three quarters of all female homicide victims are killed by family members or sexual partners.
  • Guns are frequently used by domestic violence offenders either to threaten women and children directly, or as a ‘warning’: for example , by shooting the family dog.

Myth 2: Apart from isolated incidents, deaths by shooting are not a really big problem in Australia.

Reality: In an average year, 600 to 700 Australians die by gunshot. By comparison , 504 Australians were killed in the entire Vietnam War.

Myth 3: The only guns you really have to worry about are those that can be concealed, and machine guns that are not available in this country.

Reality: The vast majority of gun violence involves the most common and least regulated types of guns - ordinary rifles and shotguns. The type of guns subject to the most restriction, the handgun, causes fewest deaths.

Myth 4: You need a gun in your house for self-defence against intruders

Reality: Acquiring a gun for self-defence is both illegal and dangerous. In households with guns, the person most likely to get shot is a family member.

Myth 5: It’s not guns that kill people, it’s people. Why blame guns?

Reality: People assaulted with a gun are 12 times more likely to die than when they are assaulted by other means. Look at America, where there are 220 million guns in circulation. It has 14 times our population but 65 times our gun deaths, and 200 times our gun homicides.

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Last Updated 27 November 2012
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