Call to reform 'clumsy' gun licensing laws

A woman whose son was killed in 2003 says gun licensing laws in Ireland are 'clumsy' and need to ...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.10 22 Sep 2021

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Call to reform 'clumsy' gun li...

Call to reform 'clumsy' gun licensing laws

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.10 22 Sep 2021

Share this article

A woman whose son was killed in 2003 says gun licensing laws in Ireland are 'clumsy' and need to be reformed.

Victim support groups are asking for a review to be carried out, while studies have shown Ireland has some of the least permissive legislation in Europe.

The most recent publication of firearm licenes by Gardaí show there were almost 198,000 certificates on issue in 2018.


However, the number of unlicenced firearms is unknown.

Vice-chair of Advocates for the Victims of Homicide (AdVIC), Joan Deane, told reporter Josh Crosbie for the Pat Kenny Show more needs to be done.

"I became involved after my son was killed in 2003.

"With other families we set up AdVIC because we realised the shortcomings in the help that was available for families.

"It just changes your life completely, it changes the whole dynamic of your family life.

"It changes you as a person... the whole shape of your life changes, and there's a whole in your life for the rest of your life."

Asked about her opinion on gun control in Ireland, she says the regulations around it are outdated.

"I think the regulations are there, I'm not sure how strictly they're adhered to in every case, but I think the law is there.

"From what I hear it's quite rigorous when you apply for a gun - the conditions are quite severe.

"The law that the regulations are based on is quite outdated, there have been several amendments, but it's kind of very clumsy."

In 2011, the Law Reform Commission recommended that all the amendments be drawn together in one single document - but this still hasn't happened.

And Joan says people need to be more aware.

"I think maybe public awareness around any change in a person's personality, if they're a gun owner, would be monitored maybe by the family - or would be picked up - and would be notified to the authorities if there was a concern around it.

"People need guns for different reasons - farming, hunting, gun clubs, all of that - and that shouldn't be a problem.

"But I think in situations where there might be a concern that a gun could be misused, I think it should be notified to the authorities".

'We would have a problem like America'

Retired Garda Sergeant Christy Galligan says the strict rules are needed.

"It is fairly permissive or restrictive in relation to obtaining firearms licences, and there's a reason for doing so.

"We're talking about a lethal weapon, a weapon that can kill - and unfortunately in this country we've seen the unlawful use of licenced firearms.

"And that's why we bring in the very restrictive type licensing that we have in this country."

Mr Galligan says those who want a gun have to undergo training beforehand.

"They have to obtain a firearms certificate, where they go and get some training in safety and how to use a firearm.

"I think there's nine pages in the firearm certificate forms - and they're fairly detailed about the applicant".

This will cover any previous convictions the applicant may have, whether they have ever had a firearm revoked and it also requires a medical history and two referees.

But he says this is what is needed.

"It's very detailed in what they're asking here, but there is a reason for doing so.

"If we didn't we would have a problem like we see in America - where anybody can walk in with your driving licence, or any form of identification, go into a firearms dealer and get a lethal weapon".

The Department of Justice says: "A substantial review of firearms licensing - including consultation with the public, stakeholders and the relevant Oireachtas committee - was undertaken in recent years.

"A number of measures identified as a result of this review are being progressed by the Department of Justice, including a ban on new licences for semi-automatic centre fire rifles.

"The legislation in respect of the regulation of firearm licensing continues to be reviewed on an ongoing basis."

Call to reform 'clumsy' gun licensing laws

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Anyone affected by issues raised in this article can contact AdVIC on 1800-852-000

Main image: Guns, shotguns and bushings are placed in a box in the chamber for evidence objects of the weapons authority in Osnabrueck District in Osnabrueck in Germany in 2018. Picture by: Friso Gentsch/DPA/PA Images

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