Thursday, 12 December 2013
Department of Justice and Equality
153. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide details regarding the granting of restricted gun licences; the guidelines provided to members of An Garda Síochána in determining if a rifle is classified as an assault rifle and therefore requires a restricted licence; his views that stricter enforcement of target shooting being restricted to approved ranges is necessary; and if he will make a statement on the matter [53500/13]
Section 29 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 inserted a new section 2B into the Firearms Act 1925, and provided for the Minister, in the interests of public safety and security, by order, to declare specified firearms to be restricted firearms. The Firearms (Restricted Firearms and Ammunition) Order, S.I. 21 of 2008, as amended by S.I. 337 of 2009, defines what is a restricted firearm.
The Order declares assault rifles to be restricted and defines them as rifles capable of functioning as semi automatic firearms and as automatic firearms; or firearms that resemble such rifles. An application for a non restricted firearm certificate is made to the Superintendent of An Garda Síochána of the district where the applicant resides. However, applications for restricted firearm certificates are made to Chief Superintendents, thus highlighting the gravity with which the Commissioner regards such firearms.
Section 4 of the Firearms Act 1925, as amended, provides for the conditions subject to which all firearm certificates may be granted. A certificate for a restricted firearm has additional requirements which are that the applicant has a good and sufficient reason for requiring the firearm and he/she has demonstrated that the firearm is the only weapon that is appropriate for the purpose for which it is required.
The Commissioner’s Guidelines on firearms licensing were published on 4 September 2009 to coincide with the commencement of the new provisions governing firearms licensing legislation. The Guidelines are for the benefit of An Garda Síochána and the shooting public alike, and the document includes guidance on the licensing of restricted firearms. Individuals seeking to licence any rifle or pistol for target shooting must be a member of an authorised rifle or pistol club.
Section 33 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 provides for the authorisation of shooting ranges by members of An Garda Síochána holding the rank of Superintendent. Applications for authorisations under this Section are made by the owner/operator of the shooting range having first obtained a firearms range certificate which is issued by my Department's Firearms Range Inspector.
Strict conditions apply to individuals seeking to licence restricted firearms and where these firearms may be used.