To describe the epidemiology of serious nonfatal firearm injury in New Zealand.
Cases of nonfatal firearm-related injury were extracted from the hospital inpatient data files of the New Zealand Health Information Service for the period 1979 to 1992 inclusive.
There were 1,239 firearm-related injuries, or 2.7 injuries per 100,000 population per year. Males, persons aged 15 to 24 years, certain occupational groups, and persons living in rural environments had higher rates of injury. Unintentional incidents accounted for 64% of the injuries. At least 25% of the incidents involved shotguns, and a further 20% involved rifles.
The results presented here serve to support the attention that has been given to prevention of firearm injuries in New Zealand. Priority should be given to establishment of a surveillance system that would provide uniform data on firearm-related mortality and morbidity to aid in risk factor research and development and evaluation of intervention programs.