Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Question 184: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the legislative changes that he will introduce in respect of gun licences; if his current intentions in this regard differ in any way from those outlined by his Department on 19 November 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44254/08]
As I have stated on a number of occasions I am concerned with the situation we now find ourselves in following the growth in the licensing of hand guns over the past few years. We now have about 1,800 handguns licensed which was not as a result of a considered or deliberate public policy decision. I would have concerns about the suitability of a large number of these firearms for legitimate target shooting purposes and I am not going to permit the growth of a 'hand gun' culture. It was against this background that I recently announced my proposals for reform in this area, which include a ban on issuing new licenses for handguns and a strict regime for renewal of existing licenses, with limited exceptions made in relation to Olympic sports. My proposals, which were outlined in my statement of 19 November, will be reflected in the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which I will be publishing in the coming weeks.
It is important to say that my proposals in relation to handguns will not impinge directly on the activities of the vast majority of licensed firearms holders. I recognise that those firearms holders pursue their legitimate interests in a law abiding way and am anxious to have a well regulated sector in which those interests can be successfully pursued, in cooperation with the relevant authorities.