Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Ceisteanna (737, 738)

John Deasy

Ceist:

797 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of licences that have issued for legally held hand guns in each of the past five years. [22772/08]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Deasy

Ceist:

798 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans he has to restrict the licensing of hand guns here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22773/08]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 797 and 798 together.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that there has been an increase in the number of handguns licensed in this jurisdiction since 2004 following a legal challenge taken on the temporary custody order made in 1972 by the then Minister for Justice. Prior to that it was generally not the practice to issue licences for handguns.

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of licences issued for handguns in the licensing years since the legal challenge is as follows:

Year (1 August to 31 July )

Total (Cumulative Number)

2007/08*

1,701

2006/07

1,367

2005/06

946

2004/05

305

*2007/08 figures are operational, provisional and liable to change.

I can inform the Deputy that the Firearms (Restricted Firearms and Ammunition) Order 2008 came into effect on 1st May 2008. It designates practically all handguns (except for pistols used in Olympic competitions) to be restricted firearms.

Sections 30 & 32 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 when commenced will mean that an application for a restricted firearm will have to be made to the Garda Commissioner, rather than the local Superintendent. He shall not grant the certificate unless satisfied that the applicant complies with a range of conditions such as having secure accommodation for the firearm, holds club membership, has a good reason for requiring such a firearm, and that the firearm is the only type appropriate for the purpose for which it is required.

I intend to bring the remaining parts of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 into force as quickly as possible and I will bring forward some technical amendments to enable their commencement in the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which will be published in the coming weeks.