Shooters across Australia quite rightly cried foul after hearing the latest misleading claims touted by Gun Control Australia’s Samantha Lee on Channel 7’s Sunrise program last week. Discussing junior sports shooting following media reports that children aged 12 have been partaking in this safe, fun and all-inclusive recreation as a school holiday activity, Ms Lee claimed that teaching youth about safe firearms handling in a controlled environment is somehow an attempt to “normalise gun culture” and “indoctrinate kids”. She took the simplistic view that “guns are designed to kill”, a huge affront to the nation’s one million licensed shooters and elite Olympians who utilise firearms to represent our country, and often win medals, in a legitimate sport.
The biggest mistruth of the segment came when Ms Lee claimed the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) states that Australians are not supposed to access a firearm until they turn 18. The SSAA-LA has conducted a fact-check on this claim and found that the NFA only refers to restrictions on under-18s in terms of being able to have or apply for a full firearms licence; it does not state that those under the age of 18 cannot participate in shooting or access junior permits by any stretch.
In fact, most state and territory laws allow for juniors to participate in recreational shooting and hunting activities, as long as they are under the supervision of a licensed firearms owner. Furthermore, many SSAA clubs across Australia regularly host youth development and firearms safety education programs for junior groups such as the Scouts.
The SSAA will continue to promote and encourage junior sports shooting and remains proud of our efforts to increase youth participation in our sport, as showcased in The Junior Shooter publications and the latest successful SSAA National Junior Challenge.