Written Answers. - Illegal Firearms.

Ivor Callely

Question:

39 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the estimated number of illegal firearms; the measures, if any, considered to prevent illegal firearms being held; the procedures in place to obtain a licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24025/99]

The fact that firearms are held illegally precludes statistics being available on the number of such firearms.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are operational preventative measures in place that successfully limit the number of illegal firearms held. I do not propose to outline the nature of such measures as to do so would lessen their effectiveness. The Deputy may wish to note that substantial quantities of illegally held firearms and ammunition are seized by the Garda each year. Details of such seizures are contained in the Garda Síochána annual report, copies of which may be obtained in the Oireachtas Library.

In accordance with the terms of the Firearms Acts, 1925 to 1998, the power to grant a firearm certificate to a resident of the State is vested in the local superintendent of the Garda district where the person resides and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for non-residents. It is policy to only grant firearm certificates for crossbows, shotguns, certain categories of rifles and tranquillising guns for use in zoos and deer farms.

A firearm certificate shall not be issued by a Garda superintendent unless he is satisfied that the applicant for the certificate has a good reason for having the firearm concerned; can be permitted to have in his/her possession, use and carry a firearm and ammunition without danger to public safety or to the peace and is not a person disentitled to hold a firearm certificate, for example, under the age of 16 years, of intemperate habits, of unsound mind or has been imprisoned for certain offences.

In accordance with the provisions of the Firearms Act, 1998 the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform may grant a firearm certificate to a non-resident not less than 16 years of age provided he is of the opinion that the application is bona fide and that there is no good reason to refuse to grant the certificate.
Firearm certificates may be revoked by the issuing authority if it is considered that the holder can no longer hold such firearm without danger to the public safety or the peace.