Labour Education spokesman Chris Hipkins would take fright at his own shadow.

His latest upset is the army visiting schools as part of its programme teaching leadership and weaponry. He opposes it: "I think that schools should be gun-free places. I'm not saying that schools shouldn't have a rifle club like many secondary schools will do."

So what is he saying, exactly? His position doesn't make sense. Schools should be gun-free except for rifle club? That would mean they weren't gun-free.

Education Minister Nikki Kaye is no better. She's ordered guidelines be drawn up on the taking of guns into schools. She doesn't want guns either, but also thinks there should be exceptions.

"As a general rule we don't support firearms in schools, but there may be very limited exceptions. For instance, we don't want a situation where the amed offenders squad can't turn up to a school if there's a threat."

I doubt the armed offenders squad would be deterred by a no-gun policy.

Her leadership position on guns in schools is to call for guidelines. Hipkins is "no guns" except where it's okay.

The political upset was occasioned by a two-month old story of the army visiting Whakarongo School, just outside Palmerston North. The children loved the visit from all accounts and got to handle the army's Steyr assault rifles.

There appears to have been no complaints except for Hipkins and Kaye and now every other bedwetter in the country.

Our children, by the time they go through primary school, have watched hundreds of TV shootouts. Altogether too many of them will have played shoot-em-up computer and video games. And they will seen the news - all-too real - of armed forces using lethal force in London to kill three terrorists on a killing rampage.

Sadly, the Age of Aquarius is not upon us. The news is a constant reminder that nowhere is safe. That same news reminds us of the need for armed forces not just in the world's trouble spots but here at home among us.

I would prefer my girls learn about guns from the professionals trained to keep us safe than TV shows and computer games. I want them to be familiar with the army's role and leadership. And yes, that means guns.

Contrary to Hipkins, I prefer the army over the school rifle club. The army are the professionals, not hobbyists or amateurs. The army is also a very good career option and has provided many of our country's leaders.

The army is a part of our community. We need them in times of civil emergency and - heaven forbid - should there ever be a terror attack. We shouldn't be banning them or their guns from schools.

It's far better our children get to meet soldiers and to learn about their work and their role in a calm environment than to leave the introduction to dire times of emergency. Lives could depend upon it.

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