Lowering the minimum age for a shooting permit is a priority of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, who are gearing up to contest the vacated seat of Cootamundra.
Shooters MP for Orange Philip Donato recently reignited the debate, arguing the minimum age for a minor’s permit age should be lowered from 12 years to 10.
Mr Donato said a change in legislation had been part of the party’s platform for years.
“It’s all about empowering parents to properly educate their children,” he said.
“Ten is the age of criminal responsibility in NSW.
“We’re teaching kids drug and alcohol education, sex education, things that will go on to affect their lives earlier and earlier in primary school.
“There’s a place in there for firearm safe-handling and treatment.”
Charlie Sheahan, who will likely contest the Cootamundra seat for Labor, said there was no need to change the law as it stood.
“I think the current legislation is quite adequate,” Mr Sheahan said.
“I don’t want to see us go down the American line where you’ve got kids shooting at two or three years old.”
Mr Donato thinks the idea resonates with regional Australians, but is victim to “hysteria”.
”I was a public prosecutor for 16 years all over western and central western NSW and did not prosecute one case involving a child for a breach of the Firearms Act,” he said.
Rodney Wright, an active member of the Junee Clay Target Club, said he’d welcome the change.
“Ten’s a good age, as long as they do their awareness test, are taught correctly and shoot under proper supervision,” Mr Wright said.
Mr Wright is currently in the process of applying for permits for his 11- and 13-year-old children.
“They’re all playing rugby league now and the shooting comes after,” he said.
“A lot of families around here do a lot of clay target, small rifle and big bore shooting at the range, all fully supervised by officers.”
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers are currently in the process of assessing candidates to run for Cootamundra.
Mr Donato said they’ve had a lot of interest and will be running “a good local candidate”.
“We could win, the situation is similar to Orange in terms of the swing,” he said.
“It won’t be easy, but we’ll be giving it our best go.”