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Aust N Z J Public Health. 1996 Oct;20(5):479-82.

Nonfatal firearm misuse: licence status of perpetrators and legality of the firearms.

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Department of Community Health, University of Auckland, New Zealand.


The primary aim of this study was to identify the licence status of those involved in incidents of nonfatal firearm-related misuse and to determine the involvement of legal firearms in such incidents. Firearm-related attempted suicides were excluded. The study also sought to identify the types of firearms most likely to be misused. Over a three-month period in early 1994, all nonfatal firearm-related incidents reported in any New Zealand newspaper were identified by a commercial clipping bureau. Data pertaining to the licence status and the legality of the firearm involved in these incidents were obtained from the police who completed a standardized questionnaire under the Official Information Act (1982). Over the study period, 78 incidents yielded information on 97 perpetrators and 100 firearms. Of the 97 perpetrators, 66 per cent were unlicensed, 20 per cent were licensed, the licence status of 8 per cent of the perpetrators was unknown and the remaining 7 per cent were using air guns and therefore a licence was not required. Half of the perpetrators involved in domestic disputes were licensed. Of the 100 firearms, 44 per cent were classified as "legal firearms' and 56 per cent were classified as "illegal firearms'. These findings suggest that strategies aimed at reducing or preventing injury due to firearm misuse must focus on both licensed and unlicensed individuals and both legal and illegal firearms.

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