Flap over kids learning to shoot outlines cultural difference

An obvious cultural difference between Costa Ricans and the United States surfaced Sunday when the Spanish-language daily newspaper ran a news story reporting that youngsters were learning to shoot at various rifle and pistol ranges.

A handful of pistol ranges reported that some youngsters had trained there. The newspaper also reported a critical comment from the security ministry and later said that the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the child welfare agency, and the Fundación Arias would seek legislation to end the practice.

A news story today said that President Laura Chinchilla would seek a law to prohibit youngsters from shooting.

Meanwhile in the United States, a Boy Scout can earn a merit badge with both rifle and shotgun and with an air pistol.

The 4-H program, which is under the guidance of the state land grant universities also has a youth program for pistol shooting.

USA Shooting, which is the firearms organization connected with the U.S. Olympic Committee recognizes a sub-junior competitor as a youngster under the age of 14.

Several types of shooting are Olympic sports.

Rachael Heiden, who is now 21, appears on the USA Shooting Web site talking about how she joined her first shooting team at age 11. She was a gold medalist in the 2012 national championships.

The National Rifle Association runs a safety program for pre-kindergarten through third grade students. The program is not to learn about shooting or to handle weapons. The children are taught to avoid weapons and if they see one they should report the find to an adult.

The program began in 1988 and has reached 25 million children, the association said.

Some of the programs for youngsters use air rifles and pistols. But these are not the type of device that can be picked up in the local shopping center. A competitive air pistol for a new shooter can cost $600 and emits a projectile at 500 feet per second. The Lewis and Clark expedition was equipped with an air rifle that fired a .46-caliber slug and could discharge 20 rounds without reloading.

It was used to demonstrate the expedition’s power to native tribes that were encountered along the way.

The Costa Rican government is trying to reduce the number of firearms in the society. Still there are shootings nearly every day. One case involved two men who were wounded in their arms during a dispute near the Museo de los Niños about 6 p.m. Sunday.

Police said Monday that a young man killed himself after he accidentally killed a friend with a pistol in Puntarenas.

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