A Dunedin professor says the loophole that lets people
buy ''lethal'' air rifles should be closed following the death
of a teenager, but a gun lobbyist rejects his calls.
Prof Kevin Clements, of the University of Otago's Centre for
Peace and Conflict Studies, said air rifles should only be
sold to gun licence holders.
Anyone 18 years of age or older can own and use an air gun
and anyone under the age of 18 can use an air gun if
supervised by a firearms licence holder, or someone aged 18
''They don't require the same type of registration and
background checks as an ordinary rifle but they have the same
lethality and they need to be treated like any other
weapon,'' Prof Clements said.
The attitude that air rifles were considered suitable for
children and needed to be critiqued, Prof Clements said.
He called for tighter controls after the death of undercover
policeman Don Wilkinson, who was shot with a .22 calibre air
rifle in 2008.
''There is really a need for a tightening up of this loophole
or [more] people are going to be killed with these weapons.''
The public considered the death of the policeman an anomaly,
but when Shaun Townsley (18) died after being shot by a
.177-calibre air rifle in South Auckland on Saturday, it
illustrated how lethal the weapons were, Prof Clements said.
Sports Industry Association spokesman Chris Ziesler (60) said
he rejected Prof Clements' comments.
''When I was 14 years old, I got my first air rifle. My older
brother had one and instructed me on its use and we grew up
shooting our air rifles and tens of thousands of New
Zealanders, of young Kiwis, have owned and used air rifles
with no incident.''
The death of the teenager had allegedly involved alcohol so
the law should not be changed because of a single incident,
Mr Ziesler said.
''That would be an overreaction ... I can't quite follow the
professor's idea that having a licence to buy an air gun
would cure a problem that really doesn't exist.
"Changing the law would be a ''huge overreaction'', Mr
Legislation had been passed so more powerful pneumatic air
rifles, like the .22 calibre rifle used to shoot the
undercover policeman, could only be owned and used by a gun
licence holder, he said.