Gun ownership statistics

For anyone interested in rates of gun ownership in Australia and other developed countries, this document has a useful table. The ICVS figures suggest that the share of Australian households owning guns fell from 17.6% in 1992 to 10.0% in 2000. Interestingly, the rate also fell in some other countries over this period (eg. US, Canada, France), though in proportionate terms, the reduction was largest in Australia.

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9 Responses to Gun ownership statistics

  1. Any idea how much of this is attributable to the gun control laws?

  2. Paul Saccani says:

    G’day Andrew,

    I can’t help but think the ownership statistics cited in the poster are both incorrect and misleading in regard to the question “Firearm suicide and the availability of firearms”. In Switzerland, all adult male citizens are issued with new military firearms, which they keep at home (and as a rule not in a special gun cabinet). At the end of their militia obligations (age 42), they are made a gift of the firearms in thanks for their service. These firearms are not subject to registration or licensing, unless purchased by a foreign national, and generally, there is no firearms licensing or registration for Swiss nationals in Switzerland.

    The use of an ownership statistic to reflect household availability of firearms, in a country where any 16 year old boy can, as a right, go to the local army barracks and borrow an assault rifle for a couple of years with no follow up, and where virtually all households have military firearms in them, though often owned by the state (although ownership is given at the end of military service) is rather poorly reflected by such a metric.

    So the cited statistic of ownership is not a valid one for availibility (in Switzerland, at least).

    The ICVS, as it has been conducted, simply can not answer the question of household firearm availibility in Switzerland. Another issue which might be very relevent to firearms availibility is the low cost and ready availability of military firearms which have been given away at the end of national service. An ex-militia assault rifle is usually worth in the order of ten to fifty US dollars (there are millions of them given away, hence the low price), and a Swiss national does not have to license or register such a purchase, which is easily made.

    I hope that some future version of the ICVS will modify questions 341 to 343, to allow availability to be measured accurately, and to provide better information on the types of firearms available. This would allow a better understanding of the situation in Switzerland with regard to firearms availibility and suicide etc…


    Paul Saccani

  3. Anni says:

    The gun control laws have made it into the Finnish news, I see – this link to the broadcasting company website (you are mentioned, Andrew):
    The text illustrates beautifully how yesterday’s news is truly yesterday’s news: while the Port Arthur massacre was well covered all over the world at the time, they now refer to it as ‘a shooting in an amusement park [!] on the island of Tasmania’.

  4. The ownership statistics simply cannot be relied on. Sporting shooters have been demonised so badly they would never truthfully answer a survey about firearm ownership.

    And if you think licence statistics are an indication of firearm ownership, you’ll go blind.

  5. Sacha says:

    So even 10% of Australian households had access to guns in 2000? That’s a huge number of people!

  6. Franco says:

    David Leyonhjelm is a regular correspondent on gun lobby sites. So here we have it from one who professes to know: many law abiding gun enthusiasts are criminals who illegally own guns.

  7. David Leyonhjelm is a regular correspondent on gun lobby sites. So here we have it from one who professes to know: many law abiding gun enthusiasts are criminals who illegally own guns.

    Franco, your comment is way off the mark.

    When sporting shooters are surveyed and asked if they own a gun, they lie. The reason is that people like you love to characterise us as criminals in waiting. So when someone makes a claim about gun ownership based on surveys, it has no relationship to the truth. And as far as I know, not even in John Howard’s Australia is lying in a survey a crime.

    Also, most people know it’s not hard to buy a gun illegally. That’s got nothing to do with people like me who have a licence, but a lot to do with the fact that nobody knows how many people own guns.

  8. ChrisPer says:

    David is right. There is no reason for a gun owner to trust a survey taker, no possible benefit for telling them the truth. Gun owners won’t sign petitions ‘in case it draws the crabs’. My advice to my wife or children would be to deny having firearms in the house. And they are not available ‘to the household’ – just to me.

    The first sound report on households owning guns in Australia was Richard Harding 1982 (I think) ‘Firearms and Violence in Australian Life’. His figure was in the region of 11% of households. There is no reason to think it almost doubled in the following 10 years.

  9. Irish Sally says:

    Thats why i would never go to australia,11% of households is a lot of guns and because there is a big market and availability the gun figure must be large for people that have no licences.

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