A new model is needed, at a local level, for the Garda's Armed Support Unit (ASU).
That's according to Brendan O'Connor, vice-president of the GRA, who says response times are 'not tolerable'.
He was speaking after a man was sentenced to eight years in prison for going on a shooting rampage with a high-powered rifle in Glenties, Co Donegal in February 2020.
Mr O'Connor told Newstalk Breakfast officers can be waiting more than three hours for armed support, with ASUs covering two or three counties.
"There were incidents in recent times where Gardaí dealing with incidents called for armed support, and were told that they would be in excess of three hours.
"We had units dispatched from Galway to incidents in north Donegal".
He says a more local approach is needed.
"What we are calling for is something we have tried to bring attention to numerous times over the years: and that is the availability and the response times of Armed Support Units to unarmed members who encounter armed incidents.
"We fully embrace the model which is ASU - the Armed Support Units - but of course they can't be everywhere.
"And we understand that they cover huge areas, and it takes a lot of time to train them and a lot of expense.
"So what we have all consistently said is we need something in between - we need some sort of a tiered response that can be mobilised locally".
And he says unarmed Gardaí can't pay with their lives for inadequate systems.
"We're not giving a prescriptive description of what we're demanding... we're saying look at this incident, look at where the failings were, where the systems were weak and what can be learned from it.
"I think any organisation that employs people who came that close to losing their lives has an obligation to have a look back and a full debrief and a full analysis.
"Leaving unarmed Gardaí waiting for long periods of time for armed back up is just simply not tolerable to our members.
"We can't have our members paying with their lives because of inadequate systems in place to provide a basic protection that's required from a police service".
He adds: "We have to have that capacity to respond locally, immediately in the event of an emergency".