South Africa: "Air guns suggested for schools shooting plan"


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cuchulainn
April 30, 2003, 07:18 PM
from the Independent

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=105&art_id=vn20030430055200592C604318&set_id=1Air guns suggested for schools shooting plan

April 30 2003 at 05:52AM

By Mbulelo Baloyi

The national defence force has started confiscating target-shooting rifles from schools in line with the directive of the national education ministry which has declared all schools gun-free zones.

Provincial education department spokesperson Mandla Msibi confirmed all weapons at schools where target shooting was practised as a sport were being removed.

Msibi said education minister Kader Asmal and his provincial counterparts had agreed that an audit of all guns in the possession of education institutions was needed.

However, many schools have complained that pupils who were participating in the target shooting sport had been left in the lurch as no alternative air guns had been provided as had been promised.

A presentation made by the safety and security ministry to the education department had revealed that a number of education institutions, including many schools, owned different types of guns, including high calibre guns.

"What is most disturbing is that some of these guns are either lost or stolen and can no longer be accounted for," said Asmal earlier this month.

"The police had suggested that there should be a move towards the use of air guns created specifically for this sport, and where it is necessary for pupils to move to advanced training so they could join professional clubs that are licensed for this purpose. The police had emphasised that these air guns did not need any licensing in terms of the new firearm control legislation," said Asmal's spokesperson Molatwane Likhethe.

Likhethe, however, said the council of education ministers had agreed that target shooting as a sport should be developed on a non-racial basis to ensure access to those pupils who had previously been excluded.

"The minister reiterated that the department has not deviated from its policy to declare schools gun-free zones, even as he is seeking to make target shooting accessible to all," added Likhethe.

Asmal's special adviser, Allan Taylor, said target shooting was an officially recognised Olympic sport in which South Africa participated.

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