Firearms For Kids?


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Drizzt
March 13, 2003, 09:50 PM
Firearms For Kids?

March 13, 2003

By J. Michael Kelly Staff writer


Should 14- and 15-year-old New York residents be able to hunt deer with firearms?

Chuck Thousand Jr. doesn't see why not.

"I've hunted in other states that allow kids that age to hunt deer, and they're usually safer than the adults," said Thousand, the president of the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. "They listen, they're willing to learn, they're enthusiastic."

Currently, New York allows 14- and 15-year-olds to hunt deer with bow and arrow, provided they're accompanied by a parent or other licensed hunter over 18 who has the written permission of a parent or guardian. In addition, kids ages 12 through 15 may hunt rabbits and other small game with a firearm in the company of a parent, guardian or relative over 21 who has written parental permission.

However, state residents must be at least 16 to hunt deer during the regular firearms and special muzzleloading seasons.

Thousand and other hunters, anglers, trappers and recreational shooters from around the state will lobby in favor of lowering the age limit for gun-hunting Tuesday, during the annual Sportsmen's March on Albany.

Participants in the march, including an expected two busloads of Syracuse-area residents, will spend the day asking state senators and Assembly members to support legislation favored by the New York State Conservation Council, which represents more than 300,000 rod-and-gun club members.

The council's top lobbying priority this year is a bill that would lower the minimum age for hunting deer with guns to 14. Similar bills have been introduced three times since 1998. Opponents include The Fund for Animals, a New York City-based anti-hunting organization.

"We'd like to see the status quo maintained," Fund spokesman Mike Markarian said Tuesday. "We don't see any compelling reason to lower the minimum age unless it would be to recruit more young people into hunting, and we don't feel that's appropriate."

In contrast to Thousand, Markarian said lowering the gun-hunting age limit "will put kids at risk and also the adults who hunt with them."

The safety issue is "somewhat complicated," according to Wayne Jones.

One of Jones' responsibilities as the state Department of Environmental Conservation's sportsman education coordinator is keeping track of hunting accidents.

There are about 22,000 licensed hunters in New York between the ages of 12 and 15. Jones said their overall safety record "is about equal to that of the total hunter population."

In the last five years, the state's approximately 700,000 hunters have logged an average of 54 shooting accidents. Twelve to 13-year-old hunters have been victims of such accidents an average of 0.8 times per year, while 14- to 15-year-olds were victims in an average of 2.2 hunting accidents annually during that time, according to Jones records.

However, the recent injury rate per participant was relatively high among the youngest hunters, compared to other age groups. While hunters ages 35 through 54 averaged only five accidents per 100,000 participants in the last five years, 14- to 15-year-olds had an accident rate of 20 per 100,000, Jones said.

"The key is obeying the law regarding adult supervision," he said. "Eighty-five percent of the kids younger than 16 group who were in accidents were hunting illegally at the time, without supervision."

According to the Conservation Council, 26 states have no age restrictions at all on hunters.

An Internet search of state web sites confirms that the states surrounding New York all have more liberal regulations with regard to young deer hunters.

In Connecticut, kids ages 12 through 15 are eligible for a junior hunting license that's valid for small-game and big-game hunting. Young license-holders must accompanied afield by another hunter who is at least 18 years old.

Pennsylvania offers a junior license for big and small game hunting to kids ages 12 through 16.

In Massachusetts, the "resident minor" license is limited to 15- to 17-year-olds. However, a child of 12 to 14 needs no license to hunt with an adult, provided that the duo carries only one gun between them. Any game killed by the tag-along child must be applied to the adult's Massachusetts license.

New Jersey sells a youth big and small-game license to kids ages 10 to 15. Those under 14 must be accompanied by an adult while afield.

Ohio has no minimum age for deer hunters but kids under 16 are required to buy a youth hunting license and be accompanied by an adult.

In Vermont, there is no age limit, but all hunters under 18 must obtain a youth license.

http://www.syracuse.com/search/index.ssf?/base/sports-0/104754820091280.xml?syrspdout

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blades67
March 13, 2003, 09:55 PM
I wish them luck getting that bill passed.

Hkmp5sd
March 13, 2003, 09:55 PM
YEP!

accident rate of 20 per 100,000

And what is the accident rate of high school football players or 16 year old drivers? Bet it is significantly higher.

Standing Wolf
March 13, 2003, 10:44 PM
Why not? Kids aren't people?

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