Gun lobby push to lower shooting age

LOWERING the minimum age for shooters and mandatory jail terms for firearm burglaries are at the top of the agenda for Tasmania's gun lobby.

The Tasmanian Firearms Consultative Committee has expressed frustration at the slow pace set by the former government in changing existing gun laws.

The committee was set up to advise the then government on firearm matters.

Its members will meet new Police Minister Rene Hidding this month in a bid to kick-start an already four-year-old review of the Firearms Act.

At the forefront is a push to give 12-year-olds the right to shoot in the field in a move they say would align Tasmania with other states.

Currently 12 to 16-year-olds can only shoot at approved target ranges.

The Tasmanian Field and Game Association's Peter Darke said young people should be allowed to hunt with guns as the activity delivered huge monetary benefits to farmers by eradicating animals that compete with livestock for pasture.

The Arms Collectors Guild of Tasmania's John Green blamed the delay in reform for a recent police decision banning dealers from acquiring never before registered guns.

Previously Tasmania's standing gun amnesty allowed unregistered firearms to be surrendered to a licensed dealer.

"Had that review gone through in a timely manner maybe that would never have happened," he said.

"The big problem we've got is nothing's happened since the original 2010 review.

"(Mr Hidding) really needs to take the reins."

Mr Green said the number of firearm burglaries was worrying firearm owners.

"Very few of the firearms are turning back up in Tasmania, which indicates they are leaving the state somehow," he said.

Gun seller Ron Tunks, who represents firearm dealers on the committee, has called for mandatory sentencing for gun thieves.

"If you like, it's the firearm dealers' catchcry," Mr Tunks said.

"We've got to stamp it out."

Proposed tightening of gun storage requirements receives mixed support across the committee.

Matt Allen, of the Tasmanian Deer Advisory Committee, said it shouldn't burden your average gun owner.

"It's more about making sure we don't get stuck with silly storage requirements that the average bloke just can't afford," Mr Allen said.

The recommendation from the review was compulsory anti- intrusion alarms for owners of 15 or more guns.


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