Gun fun


The army is tak­ing guns into pri­mary schools, and the kids are lov­ing it.

As part of a pro­gramme teach­ing chil­dren about lead­er­ship and weaponry, 9- to 13-year-olds get their hands on ra­dios and un­loaded guns.

The first school visit was on Thurs­day at Whakarongo School, just out­side Palmer­ston North.

Each child was given the op­por­tu­nity to play with ra­dios and prac­tise dis­as­sem­bling, as­sem­bling and fir­ing an as­sault ri­fle.

The army also spoke about lead­er­ship and lead­ers, such as for­mer All Blacks cap­tain Richie McCaw and Vic­to­ria Cross win­ner Wil­lie Api­ata.

Top tips for be­ing a leader were hon­esty, del­e­ga­tion, good com­mu­ni­ca­tion, con­fi­dence, com­mit­ment and hu­mour, ma­jor Tim Wood­house told the chil­dren.

Cor­po­ral Is­rael McNi­choll said it was good to show a glimpse of ‘‘army life’’ in­ter­ac­tively.

‘‘The kids just love the guns, you know what kids are like... but they are not toys.

‘‘Most of the chil­dren’s ques­tions were about the kit, not what the higher ideas are.’’

Eleven-year-old Kane O’Hara said the sem­i­nar was ‘‘re­ally fun’’.

‘‘It’ll just be some­thing that’s im­printed on your brain.’’

He had never held a gun be­fore and said ‘‘it felt amaz­ing and cool’’.

But not ev­ery­one agrees. The con­tent of the course pro­voked over 500 com­ments on our story via Face­book.

A Stuff Face­book poll on whether such weapons should be put in kids’ hands, found about three-quar­ters of vot­ers sup­port­ing the scheme.

Wood­house de­clined to com­ment on the suit­abil­ity of bring­ing guns into schools.

Deputy prin­ci­pal Lisa Cuff said the 25 chil­dren en­joyed play­ing with the equip­ment.

She did not think the visit would be con­tro­ver­sial.

‘‘It’s about the lead­er­ship side.’’

Massey Univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion pro­fes­sor John O’Neill said learn­ing ma­te­rial from out­side or­gan­i­sa­tions should be care­fully as­sessed for value and ap­pro­pri­ate­ness.

Firearms safety and learn­ing about the army could be valu­able in a longer pro­gramme.

Child psy­chol­o­gist Kirsty Ross said views on guns in New Zealand were mixed, and ru­ral fam­i­lies were of­ten happy with their safe han­dling.

‘‘I think it would be im­por­tant that par­ents are in­formed... and can make a de­ci­sion as to whether the con­tent fits with their val­ues or be­liefs, or not.’’


Mad­di­son Brown, left, and Amy Van Leeuwen come to grips with a Steyr ri­fle.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.