” Queensland schoolgirls are picking up guns in record numbers.
Recreation and competition shooting associations are reporting a surge in junior members, particularly girls, a trend that is firing up Gun Control Australia which is pushing for a ban on under-18s handling firearms.
The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia has several thousand Queensland children as members and president Geoff Jones reports a recent spike in girls’ involvement.
There is a similar trend in competition shooting. In 2010, 18 per cent of Queensland Target Shooters juniors were female. This year one third are girls. In Queensland, kids aged 11 and over can obtain a minor’s gun license.
Gun Control Australia has urged a Senate inquiry into firearms to lift the legal age to 18, a move that shooting bodies and parents warn will end Australia producing elite shooting champions.
“ The reason why so many parents are happy to have their kids involved is because they see the rigid safety protocol,” Mr Jones said. “We have a great reputation for safety in Australia and we are reaping the rewards of that in junior participation. There is only one live round in the gun, kids use age appropriate weapons – no semi-automatics – and there are step-by-step safety rules.”
Jamie Webb, who coaches kids at national and state level in target shooting, said: “Anti-gun lobbyists will put an end to the country’s participation in the sport and it makes no sense. The levels of safety for our shooters is the best in the world and I know of no dangerous incidents.”
Queensland Police confirmed 687 minors gun licenses were issued in the last year but Mr Webb says that is one tenth of the unlicensed kids who shoot at ranges. “