N. Ireland Politics

Call to allow children aged 10 to use firearms

Children as young as 10 should be allowed to use firearms, a Stormont committee has been told by gun groups.

Northern Ireland's Justice Committee has been taking evidence on proposed changes to firearms licensing.

At present, firearms certificates may be issued to 16 to 18-year-olds in specific circumstances for use on farms. Under the plans, the age would be reduced to 12.

Two organisations for shooting said they favoured lowering the age to 10.

The debate centred on access to the supervised use of shotguns and airguns.

Vaughan Harkness, of the Northern Ireland Firearms Dealers and Shooters Association, and Tommy Mayne, of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said they favoured changing the law to allow 10-year-olds to use guns.

Mr Mayne explained that this should be subject to supervision by a experienced shooter aged over 21.

Mr Harkness said there were "kids out on the streets now who have criminal records through recreational rioting" and suggested that shooting was a safe sport which young people would benefit from.

Committee chairman Paul Givan, of the DUP, said he had "a lot of reservations" about the Justice Department's proposals.

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