While you may not be tall enough to ride all of the roller coasters at Disneyland, you may soon be able to take a high-powered rifle into the forest and bang away at animals in South Dakota. The legislature is concerned about a drop in hunting, so it is considering dropping the age for hunters to 10. If this trend continues, South Dakota toddlers may soon be able to lock-and-load with specialized Tickle-Me-Elmo-22 rifles.
The decision to lower the age of hunters could have an impact on the law. Hunting states have long excused “buck fever” accidents by minors and even some adults. Click here for a prior column.
Moreover, common law torts affords minors a special standard that considers the age, maturity, and intellect of a child in determining negligence. However, when a child is engaged in an “adult activity” he or she is subject to the adult standard. Hunting has long been a source of debate as to whether it is an adult activity. With states reducing the age to ten, an argument could be made that it is not — resulting in a more lenient standard for minors accused of accidental shootings.
The change in South Dakota would be a reduction from the current age limit of 12 for a hunting license.It would still require the presence of an adult on hunting excursions.
For the South Dakota story, click here