New Zealand: Children hold assault rifles as part of Army school visit

The New Zealand army has started a new programme teaching children about weaponry and leadership.

Pictures of smiling children holding the unloaded weapons appearing in the New Zealand media has caused Education Minister Nikki Kaye to order new guidelines be drawn up on guns in schools.

As reported by the New Zealand Herald, during the army's visit to a school near Palmerston North, students aged 9 to 13 were allowed to assemble and fire an assault rifle.

One of the students aged 11 told the newspaper that he had never held a gun before and "it felt amazing and cool" while the schoold administration said they did not think the visit would be controversial.

In response to criticisms, Education Minister Nikki Kaye said "As a general rule we don't support firearms in schools, but there may be very limited exceptions. For instance, we don't want a situation where the Armed Offenders Squad can't turn up to a school if there's a threat, and also I'm aware we have got an Olympic sport in terms of shooting, so there are some schools that are involved in that."

Meanwhile, Peace Movement Aotearoa (PMA) made a call to send protest emails to the Minister. In their statement responding Kaye's comments PMA said:

"Well, sport shooting is rather different from encouraging children to "play" with combat assault rifles! "Kaye rejected the suggestion the Army visit was propaganda or designed to eventually recruit children." - seriously, why else would the army be in primary schools? If you'd like to share your views on combat assault rifles in schools, you can write to Nikki Kaye, Education Minister, n.kaye@ministers.govt.nz and please copy your letter to pma@xtra.co.nz".

Source: New Zealand Herald and Peace Movement Aotearoa

Photo: From an action by School Students Against War in Britain.

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