Should the 'shooting age' be lowered from 12 to 10? | Editorial

IT’S hard to pinpoint what exactly feels wrong about the Shooters and Fishers’ platform of handing guns to 10-year-olds, but there’s something about the idea that feels off.

Of course, the lefties and gun control groups jumped all over Shooters MP Phillip Donato when he suggested lowering the age a child can shoot (under supervision) from 12 to 10. 

Guns kill people, they cried, they’re horrible deadly weapons that have no place in our society. You’d never put a 10-year-old behind the wheel of a car!

But this is exactly what we do in rural communities. Kids hoon around on motorbikes and quads, learning to drive in old Holdens from when their feet can touch the pedals. And in an environment where guns are part of working life, it makes sense to teach kids how to safely handle them from a young age as well.

For every reasonable anti-gun argument, there’s a counter argument that also seems reasonable. Yes, guns hurl small pieces of metal at incredible speed. But we also like to be carried around in enormous pieces of metal at speeds that would astonish our ancestors. Guns are potentially deadly, so are cars, but we don’t go banning cars.

There’s actually a pretty powerful counter-argument here about age and responsibility that’s directly related to driving. How many P-platers overestimate their driving ability, only to run afoul of the laws of physics? Perhaps having an experienced, licenced driver with them for the first few years could lower the road toll?

Gun Control Australia goes one step further, equating shooting to smoking cigarettes and raising fears of school shootings if gun use is “normalised” for children. But lowering the shooting age to 10 won’t make it any easier for children to get hold of guns or ammunition. 

As this rolls on, we’re likely to see the typical horror stories from the Untied States trotted out, with tragedies twisted for political gain. What about the two-year-old that shot someone that we read about on Facebook? Well, yes, that does sound alarming, but no-one calls for all cops to hand over their service weapons whenever there’s a police shooting.

Ultimately, this is a fairly minor policy platform for a fairly minor party and while the Shooters and Fishers are gaining traction in Nationals heartland, it remains to be seen whether this issue will play any role in the upcoming Cootamundra by-election.