Simon Collins is the Herald’s education reporter.

Army told to stop kids holding guns on school visits

School trustees say "quite a few schools" allow guns for cadet forces, gun clubs and other activities. File photo
School trustees say "quite a few schools" allow guns for cadet forces, gun clubs and other activities. File photo

Schoolchildren will no longer be able to handle guns when the Defence Force visits, according to new draft firearms guidelines for schools.

The guidelines also require schools to draw up policies for firearms used by gun clubs and cadet forces or for shooting competitions, firearms safety training, school plays and pest control.

They were ordered last June by former Education Minister Nikki Kaye after the army allowed primary school children at Whakarongo School near Palmerston North to handle guns in a programme about leadership and weapons.

The draft guidelines, which are open for submissions until April 11, state: "No student, parent/caregiver, volunteer or staff member may hold/possess a restricted firearm during Defence Force visit."

School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr, who worked with the ministry to develop the proposed rules, said they were needed because "quite a few schools" used guns for various purposes.

"We have always had cadets in schools, and so this was about a reaction to the Defence Force taking rifles into a school," she said.

"We have a lot of kids who are in shooting clubs where they don't actually bring firearms into the school but kids compete. It's not widespread, but it does happen.

"There are also a few rural schools where hunting is the core of the area, and they will often do firearms safety with the police on how to fire a firearm safely."

Kerr serves on the board of Year 1 to 8 Kuratau School near Taupō, which she described as "a predominantly pig-hunting area".

"The school doesn't provide the firearms but it allows kids access to training - not on the school premises, the kids are taken to a firing range, the police are there and firearms safety people are there," she said.

"I believe it's optional and I understand it's senior students".

The draft guidelines say students handling guns in firearms safety courses must be under the "immediate supervision" of a person with a firearms licence.

They allow schools to draw up their own policies for cadet forces, gun clubs and inter-school shooting competitions.

- NZ Herald

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