Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Questions (255)

John McGuinness


258 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on whether section 3(9) of the Firearms Act 1925, which permits the Garda authorities to take up to three months to make a decision on the renewal of a firearm certificate is unfair on the applicant who must lodge an application in renewal exactly three months before expiry of the existing certificate, which is the earliest time permitted under the Act, in order to be sure that they do not end up potentially being in possession of a firearm without a current certificate through no fault of their own, should the Garda take the full three months as allowed by the legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35708/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice and Equality)

I can inform the Deputy that the following subsections of Section 3 of the Firearms Act, 1925 as substituted by Section 43 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 provide that:

(8) The holder of a firearm certificate may apply for renewal of the certificate within three months before it ceases to be in force.

(9) A decision on an application for a firearm certificate or its renewal shall be given within 3 months from the date on which the applicant submitted a completed application form.

An application for renewal does not require the applicant to submit the renewal form exactly three months before expiry, but anytime within three months before it ceases to be in force. There is therefore an onus on each applicant for renewal to submit his/her renewal form in good time so that their firearm certificate renewal application is processed in good time. The legislation provides for an applicant to have his/her renewal application assessed up to three months before his/her existing certificate expires.

I understand from the Garda Authorities that the first renewals of three year firearm certificates commence on 1st August 2012 and planning for this phase has been ongoing for many months. Each current holder of a firearm certificate will receive a Firearms Renewal Form (FCR) three months prior to the expiry of their current firearm certificate. The renewal form will include all relevant details and the form provides for the firearm owner to make any changes in their circumstances (for example referees, general practitioner etc) before submitting the signed form to their local Garda Station.

I am informed that all of the shooting organisations and representative groups in the State have been fully briefed on the renewal processes by the Garda Firearms Policy Unit and information on the renewal requirements of each firearm owner is available on the Garda Website