A safety measure: Gun club backs Donato’s proposed firearms reforms

AMENDMENT IN SIGHT: Member for Orange Phil Donato showing his proficency with a gun in hand earlier this year.
AMENDMENT IN SIGHT: Member for Orange Phil Donato showing his proficency with a gun in hand earlier this year.

A MEMBER of an Orange gun club is backing a push to lower the age for obtaining a firearms permit, arguing it would increase safe practices among recreational shooters.

Under current legislation, a child must be at least 12 years old to get a minor’s permit.

A licenced adult is responsible for safeguarding the child’s weapons and supervising their shoots. These rules would not be altered under the reforms proposed by Mr Donato.

Orange Clay Target Club secretary Wayne Sharp had been unaware of the policy push by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party, but he had no doubt the members of his club would overwhelmingly favour the change.

TAKING AIM AT CHANGE: Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party member, Phil Donato with 13-year-old son Sean on their property outside Orange. Photo: JAMES BRICKWOOD

TAKING AIM AT CHANGE: Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party member, Phil Donato with 13-year-old son Sean on their property outside Orange. Photo: JAMES BRICKWOOD

He said there were about a dozen 12- or 13-year-olds in the region who would have been ready and happy to shoot a couple of years earlier than the current legislation allows.

“The sooner they can get a gun in their hand and start learning the safe practices the better,” Mr Sharp said.

“Often their mum or dad is shooting and they have to sit around biding their time.

“Kids at that age are capable of handling a weapon.”

The government is adamant there will be no amendment to the legislation, with a spokesperson for NSW Police Minister Troy Grant saying “the NSW Government has no intention of changing the current law”.

But the results of a poll conducted at www.centralwesterndaily.com.au supported Mr Donato and Mr Sharp’s position.

Asked ‘should 10-year-old children be given firearms permits?’, 254 people – or 64.96 per cent of respondents – voted ‘Yes’.

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The number of firearms permits for minors has seen a dramatic spike in recent years, with 7258 junior licences approved in the first seven months of 2017.

Mr Sharp also argued for the wide-scale inclusion of shooting in the NSW schools curriculum.

Currently only 12 public high schools in the state, as well as some independent schools, offer shooting as a sport for students.

“It’s all the rage in Victoria,” Mr Sharp said.

“It would mean that kids who already shoot would have the chance to do more of the sport they like.

“It’s like any sport: the sooner they can start participating and practising the better they will be, just like soccer or netball.”

WHAT IS A MINOR’S PERMIT?

  • A child as young as 12 can obtain a minor's firearms permit in NSW, and most other Australian jurisdictions. However, Western Australia does not have a specific age limit, while Queensland has a minimum age of 11.
  • A minor's permit allows a child to possess and use firearms under the personal supervision of a firearms licence holder for the purpose of receiving instruction in the safe use of firearms or competing in shooting events, according to NSW Police.
  • The minor's permit does not authorise the acquisition of firearms.

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