Watch Shooters Union President, Graham Park discuss the issue of young shooters and why they should be trained in the proper supervision of handgun use from the age of 12.
Now, a new indoor gun range in Adelaide is causing controversy with critics concerned kids as young as 12 are being encouraged to shoot real guns.
But supporters argue it’s a positive place to learn about gun safety. Now, you be the judge.
The Gunnery in Adelaide South is the first in the country with virtual moving targets, as well as stationary ones. 12-year-old Louise is an avid sporting shooter, and already has her gun license.
I definitely think it’s safe because of all the rules you have to follow.
Louise is the daughter of range owner, Peter.
You’re never too young to be educated about guns, and the safety and the use of them.
Safety is a priority here. Anyone who doesn’t have a gun licence is strapped into a harness, anchored to the ground, with their gun tethered. There’s also an overseeing instructor. Like many ranges across the country and in line with the law, children as young as 12 can shoot, providing they’re supervised by a parent or guardian, but locals are divided.
I think it should be at least 18, because why would we want 12-year-olds playing with guns? There’s no need for it.
I don’t really have a problem with it. I’m excited to go in there. It seems like something new and different.
The Council gave the range the green light after consultation with police. Graham Park from the Shooters Union of Australia and Samantha Lee from Gun Control Australia join us now. Morning to you both. Samantha, The Gunnery owner says if children want to learn to shoot, he’s providing an educational and safe environment. Now, what do you say to that?
This is straight out of American gun culture book, it’s trying to normalize gun culture here in Australia by allowing young people as young as 12 to access semi-automatic handguns. No doubt there’s an attraction for young people in these particular scenarios, linking computers and machines; however, this is about trying to indoctrinate kids here in Australia in relation to a gun culture.
Graham, you can’t get L-plates for a car until you’re 16 or 17, but you can get a shooter’s license at 12. Why do children as young as 12 need to know how to shoot a gun? I say this as a farmer’s daughter, who I accept that some people can own guns and should own guns, but why does as 12-year-old need to know how to shoot a gun?
Thank you for having me on. Well, with over a million licensed shooters in Australia, there’s lots of people out there that it is a very normal sport and activity, and so it seems to me a very rational thing that you’d want young people to be trained safely. Just as we begin training people young in other sports, we do so with shooting. The reason they have what they call a minor’s license is so that they can do that under direct supervision. They can’t own a gun, they can’t take it out on their own. They have to be with the supervision of an adult who has a full license, so I think it’s a very good thing. Shooting is a very normal part of Australian society, and I don’t believe it’s helpful to compare it with radically different cultures.
Yeah. Samantha, supporters of shooting argue that it’s no different to many other sports, like archery or javelin at Little Athletics or something like that. What do you say to that?
Well, guns are designed to kill, that is the difference. A football isn’t. What we need is sensible gun laws here in Australia. In terms of our National Firearms Agreement, you’re actually not meant to access a firearm until you’re 18 years of age; however, state and territories have watered down their gun laws in each jurisdiction, which means that particularly in Western Australia, there is no age limit in relating to accessing firearms.
So you don’t have a problem with gun ranges or shooting as a sport, it’s just the age that you start?
Look, we’re into sensible gun regulation, and what that means is ensuring that young people are protected from things that harm them. As pointed out, we don’t allow them access to alcohol, cigarettes, medicines, cars until they’re 18, but we allow them to access semi-automatic handguns when they’re 10 or 12 and it just does not make sense.
Graham, this is a very emotive issue in the world right now. We look at Nice, we look at Baton Rouge. Are you fighting an uphill battle to convince people that there is a place for shooting in society?
Not at all. It’s a vibrant and growing sport, and especially young people really enjoy it. It’s extremely safe, as evidenced by the fact that the insurance rates, which they’re the guys that seem to know the risks involved better than anyone, the insurance rates are extremely low, lower than for almost any other sport for liability-type issues on ranges because of that and because of the level of supervision that you saw in your little one-minute clip earlier with people either under direct supervision or actually being physically restrained from even being able to do anything. So I don’t know that that really fulfills the thing of people out running around with things. I think it’s providing a safe environment for people to learn and understand about firearms, rather than the silliness they see on entertainment TV which is filled with violent misuse of firearms.
Okay. All right. Thank you to you both. An interesting discussion. Appreciate both points of view.