Dubbo Clay Target Club rejects Phil Donato's call for firearms permits for 10-year-olds

A clay target shooter competing. Photo: Shutterstock.
A clay target shooter competing. Photo: Shutterstock.

A sporting shooter at Dubbo has rejected a call for 10-year-olds to be allowed to handle guns, as debate about the issue rages.

Dubbo Clay Target Club president Ben Fairman said he did not think the age for obtaining a minor’s firearms permit should be lowered from its minimum of 12 years.

His comments come in the wake of Orange MP Phil Donato advocating the change, as well as the introduction of shooting as an elective subject at school.

The push by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party member has sparked fierce debate in the community and not everyone from the sport is on board.

Mr Fairman drew a distinction between 12-year-olds, who are currently the minimum age for being able to use guns under supervision, and 10-year-olds.

“There’s a lot of difference in maturity between 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds, having kids myself I know that,” he said.

“I’ve talked to a couple of people in our club, and the general consensus is 10 is too young.”

Mr Fairman did not take issue with shooting as an elective subject at school.

He said teenagers onwards had a lot to contribute to the sport.

Catherine Skinner, the 26-year-old who won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, had come through the safe pathways in place in Victorian schools, he said.

Current world champion Matt Schiller won the junior title in 2014 aged under 18, and then two years later won the title in the open section, Mr Fairman reported.

“He also shoots with his father and his grandfather,” he said.

“It’s a great thing to get into and I hope my kids do too.”

Mr Fairman emphasised the restrictions already in place for safety, including that minors with a permit must have the one-on-one supervision of a firearms licence holder.

Some readers expressed support for Mr Donato’s call on social media.

In a post to the Daily Liberal’s Facebook page, Renee Leonard said she did not see any problem with the proposal, “provided it is taught by the firearms safety [and] training council or the likes”.

But Mick Edwards said he did not want to see school teachers deliver such a program.

“They have enough on their plate [and] it is well outside their expertise,” he said.

NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron was critical of the call for shooting to be an elective subject.

“We don’t support children normalising the use of guns in school, it’s not appropriate,” he said.

“If people on property need the use of firearms, then that should be an adult activity, that’s carefully regulated.

“It’s certainly not something children should be exposed to in a school situation.

“Schools and guns do not mix.”