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Dublin: 17°C Monday 26 July 2021

Plans to allow children aged 12 to use guns legally in NI

The changes would mean children could use firearms in “extremely supervised circumstances”.

Image: woman at shooting range via Shutterstock

THE NORTHERN IRELAND Justice Minister has announced plans to change the law to allow children as young as 12 to use airguns or shotguns in strictly supervised situations.

At present, the lowest age limit is 16. It follows calls from the Northern Ireland Firearms Dealers and Shooters Association and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

The Minister’s decision was made following public consultation and discussions with PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott, the BBC is reporting.

According to a spokesperson for the Department: “Following public consultation and having considered the view of the chief constable, Justice Minister David Ford has decided that the age at which a young person may have supervised access to air guns or shotguns will be reduced to 12 years of age.

“This will require further consideration of the detail to ensure appropriate supervision by a suitably experienced adult.”

Steward Dickson of the Alliance party, who is a member of the Stormont justice committee said that although he was “nervous” about the decision, he wouldn’t be opposing it, adding that use by 12-year-olds would be in “extremely supervised circumstances”.

He said one of the factors was that in sport, young people hoping to compete in the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games weren’t getting an early enough start.

The two shooting organisations had favoured lowering the age limit to 10.

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