Firearm fatalities in Western Sydney 1994–2003

Amanda Jeffery; Bogdan Hulewicz; Neil Langlois; Dianne Little; Peter Ellis
December 2007
Forensic Science, Medicine & Pathology;Dec2007, Vol. 3 Issue 4, p252
Academic Journal
Abstract  This study reviews firearm-related deaths (homicidal, suicidal and accidental) from 1994 to 2003 in the Western Sidney area, Australia, serviced by the Westmead Department of Forensic Medicine, in order to document the features of the cases and to assess the effect of the introduction of the NSW Firearms Act in 1996. There were 211 fatalities involving firearms (1.8% of all of the Coroner’s cases for the period); firearm deaths were classified as homicide (75), suicide (134) or accidental (2). There was a clear peak of homicide deaths by firearm in the 20–29 age group, whereas the suicide peak was broad, spanning the ages 20–69 years. More suicides occurred at home than homicides and a higher proportion of suicides were by rifle than homicides, which favoured hand guns. Entry wounds in suicides mostly involved the head, with the chest being the commonest entry site in homicides. The only statistically significant trend was for an increase in the number of firearm-related suicides in males, comparing the number of deaths pre- and post-firearm law introduction. The study includes reports of two suicides by unusual weapons: a home-made pipe gun and a spear gun.


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