This blog is in reference to a recent media statement which has incorrectly suggested that children have access to firearms.
The following link is to the article in question;
The item used in the most recent occurrence of disturbing behaviour by school children was not a firearm and not subject to the Western Australian Firearms Act 1973 (“the Act”). Describing the item in question as a ‘gun’ is incorrect. It is not a firearm under any definition within the Act.
Not questioning the Education Department regional executive, Margaret Collins, on her assessment of the issue as being “of great concern that children could access guns in their community” was a failure on behalf of the reporter, Briana Shepherd.
Whilst I am relieved that there was no sinister intent in either of the recent events involving school kids taking firearms or replica firearms to school, I would point out that the first instance involved an unlicensed (therefore illegal) firearm that was outside the regulated system of firearm ownership. In the second instance, no offense was committed as the item was not a firearm and not subject to the Act.
I see both of these events as a manifestation of a larger problem within the community, which is a lack of knowledge and understanding within the general public surrounding firearms and firearm law.
In the case of a firearm being taken to school, I can understand the naivety of children being central to the issue itself. This is largely bought about by the fact that firearms and responsible firearm ownership are never discussed in any informative way. In all likelihood, the only information most people have ever received is through the media, which is inevitably of a sinister or violent nature. I believe this constant misrepresentation of firearms leads to a distorted view that, for most children, makes guns an object of curiosity and excitement.
I firmly believe that the best way to prevent similar instances occurring in the future is through education.
I have long advocated that a basic understanding of firearms law and the responsibilities of firearm ownership should be taught in schools. Children are educated in all manner of subjects, such as sex education and responsible alcohol consumption. Consequently, I believe it would be a sensible advance in education that the basic principles of firearms law should be included in the curriculum.
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