Written Answers. - Licensing of Firearms.

Alan Shatter


279 Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the guns, if any, which can be lawfully held by an individual on foot of a Garda licence; the unlicensed weapons, if any, which may lawfully be held at the discretion of an inspector or superintendent of a Garda station situated within the area in which the individual resides; the departmental or Garda guidelines, if any, applicable; and if a person may retain a sub-machine gun in his possession at the discretion of the Garda. [5067/00]

The position is that subject to a few exemptions as provided for in the firearms Acts, 1925 to 1998, a person may not hold a firearm which is defined in section 4 of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990 unless such possession is authorised by a firearm certificate granted in accordance with the provisions of the Acts. These exemptions include possession by members of gun clubs, persons taking part in production of films and possession of firearms which have been disabled where possession is authorised by the local superintendent.

The policy regarding the licensing of firearms is that, in line with a Government decisions in 1972, the gardaí adopted a policy of licensing only sporting firearms, shotguns having barrels of not less than 24 inches in length, unrifled air guns and rifled firearms of a calibre not exceeding .22 inches. Crossbows which were classed as firearms in 1990 are also licensed. A further Government decision in 1993 relaxed this policy to allow the licensing of bolt action rifles of a calibre up to .270 for the purposes of deer hunting and target shooting only. The policy of not licensing any other firearms also extends to defective firearms.

The restrictions imposed by the firearms Acts do not apply to any antique firearm which is sold, bought, carried or possessed as a curiosity or ornament. Generally, firearms manufactured before the mid 19th century which do not utilise modern type ammunition would be classed as antique firearms.
To facilitate film production it is practice to authorise the possession of firearms which would not normally be authorised. Most of these firearms have been modified to render them incapable of discharging live ammunition. My Department grants importation licences for such firearms subject to the condition that when the production is completed these firearms are exported.