Aim: To determine the firearms licensing status and mental and criminal history of perpetrators in firearm homicide, plus the legal status of the firearms used. The location of the shooting, its motivation and the relationship between perpetrator and victim were determined, as well as the type, ownership, origin and security storage of the firearms involved.
Method: All New Zealand firearm homicides in the three-year period 1992-1994 were identified. Case summaries were obtained from the New Zealand Police under the provisions of the Official Information Act. A standardised questionnaire was then used to obtain additional data from the case file. All the questionnaires were completed.
Results: Most victims were killed by a licensed gunowner, while 62.5% (and ten out of eleven female victims) were killed with a legal firearm from the collection of a licensed gun-owner. Almost all victims (95%) were killed by a familiar person. Half were shot by their partner, an estranged partner or a member of their own family. Of all the dead, 63% were shot during family violence, 91% of these with a legal firearm. Of the perpetrators, 82% had no predictive history of violent crime, while none had a history of mental illness.
Conclusion: These results contradict the suggestion that efforts to reduce firearm violence should be directed only at “criminals and the mentally ill”, rather than “law-abiding gun-owners”.