Ministry of Education opens consultation on firearms in schools

The Ministry of Education is taking public feedback on draft guidelines for guns in schools.

Schools currently have no specific guidelines for firearms, and the Ministry is looking at the legitimate circumstances firearms could be allowed in education and sporting activities.

"We do not support the unsupervised access of firearms in schools. However, we do acknowledge that there may be legitimate circumstances where firearms may be part of students' education and/or sporting activity," the Ministry says.

"Some parents/caregivers will oppose the presence and use of firearms in schools. Others are often happy with their safe handling in an educational environment or for firearm safety purposes with strict restrictions and policies on their use."

The draft guidelines will support boards of trustees to clarify situations when firearms are permitted and the processes that must be followed.

The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) says it's important the community is involved in the process.

"We know there will be strong opinions about this, and it's important that people who hold those opinions participate in the consultation. Schools, parents, students and communities need to be on the same page on this," says Lorraine Kerr, President of NZSTA.

Firearms could be allowed on school premises for activities like cadet force activities, secondary school shooting championships, or career days.

"We don't want to wrap our kids in cotton wool, but we do need to make sure that we take all reasonably practicable steps to make sure they are safe," Ms Kerr says.

"We need to make sure that everyone is clear about what the rules are, and that the policies and processes we adopt are fit for purpose. It's our hope that the guidelines will provide clarity and consistency for all boards facing these decisions."

However an education expert thinks firearms at primary and childhood centres doesn't make the priority list.

Education Institute President Lynda Stuart says there are more important things to concentrate on.

"I think there's plenty of other things that our primary schools actually do on school camps and excursions," she says.

"I don't think teaching firearms are a requirement for schooling at that level."

Submissions close next month.

"I think it will be interesting to see the public response is to it," Ms Stuart says.