Licences help teach children gun safety

Taking aim .. Active Learners early childhood centre staff and pupils taking part in a gun safety programme are (from left) Ryan Hall (2), Millie Scott, Charlee Rogers (4), Lisa Alderton, McKenzee Rogers (3) holding a copy of the "gun licence", Hunter Scott (3), Avia Niu, Briah Bowman (2) and Mason Teague (2). PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS

by Al Williams

Timaru early childhood centre Active Learners is calling staff and pupils to arms in an effort to engage in safe play.
Active Learners early childhood teacher Lisa Alderton, with the help of staff and parents, has adopted a novel approach to educate pupils about firearms safety after some children had taken an interest in gun play following game season.
Staff were finding children re-enacting gun games when they were playing together, Ms Alderton said.
After consultation and research, the learning centre is to introduce gun licences, to be used with pretend guns. Children will earn licences once they are aware of the rules associated with using guns.
The guidelines would be introduced through a safety course led by teachers.
Ms Alderton said pupils had been making guns out of blocks and various things and “were running around shooting each other”.
“It seemed to coincide with game season .. so we had a chat to a couple of children and that’s when they said their dads went duck hunting, so we thought it’s really important to us to respond to each child’s home culture.
“We had a discussion as a team and looked at some research.”
Research showed the aim was to “transform this play and use it as a teachable moment to educate children about gun safety, just as we would with road safety, what to do in an earthquake or civil defence emergency or stranger danger”, Ms Alderton said.
“It’s about wanting to be responsive to children’s learning, their needs and their home cultures.
“We have a lot of families who go hunting and lot of farming families.”
Pupils would be making guns before the safety course, she said.
“As part of the course we have put together, there will be a picture gallery of animals that are used for hunting in New Zealand.
“The children will only be able to aim at those pictures.”


  • Guns are only aimed at “game” (images of game) around the preschool (not people).
  • Guns are to be used outside.
  • Licences must be worn while engaged in this play.
  • Licences will only be given to children who complete the safety course.
  • When not in use, guns are to be stored safely in the gun cabinet.

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