WELLINGTON, June 7 - No laws were broken during the Defence Force visit to Whakarongo School near Palmerston North but politicians on both sides of parliament say it wasn't appropriate and something needs to change.
The visit happened in April when students aged between nine and 13 were given lessons on assembling and firing assault rifles in what is believed to have been a gun safety lesson.
Education Minister Nikki Kaye is now seeking guidelines to control the use of guns in schools and Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins is backing the idea.
"I'm not saying schools shouldn't have a rifle club like many secondary schools would do but I think the idea that the Army would take in semi-automatic weapons into schools and let kids hold them and play with them, I think that's really inappropriate," he said.
He hoped children and teens wouldn't be handling semi-automatic weapons in the first place so wouldn't need safety lessons for those types of guns.
Kaye described herself as "pretty conservative" on guns and hopes to have guidelines in place.
But she also doesn't want to see rifle clubs become a thing of the past for schools, welcoming conversation on potential exceptions to the guidelines.
"There may be some very limited exceptions. For instance we don't want a situation where the armed offenders squad can't turn up to a school if there's a threat and also I'm aware ... we've got an Olympic sport in terms of shooting so there are some schools that are involved in that," she said.
But she rejected claims by Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty that the Defence Force visit was propaganda.
Delahunty questioned the educational value of the visit.
"I suspect it's about propaganda to persuade children the Defence Force is really cool and guns are really cool," she said.
"Guns are not cool. They have no place in schools."
Kaye expects the guidelines to be in place within three to four months.