Sent by email today in response to the good Deputy’s comments this morning in a Dail committee…
Re: Murdering Children
Dear Deputy Kenny,
I’m a licenced firearms owner, who owns two rifles and a pistol. I have used them to represent my country in Olympic target shooting and I have medalled for Ireland in a minor international match. I have been shooting for a little over twenty years now. I have personally trained about a thousand people to shoot safely. I’m a licenced international judge for target shooting. I have written one part of the current Irish Firearms Act and edited most of the rest of it. I’ve helped run two clubs and the national governing body for Olympic rifle shooting in Ireland.
I have never broken a law in my life. Never been in trouble with the Gardai. I’ve met and worked with some of the Gardai you spoke with this morning.
I also have a son who is two years and eight months old.
And I was watching you in the Dail Committee this morning, broadcast live on the internet, as were hundreds of other licenced firearms owners like myself, all of whom were, like myself, personally signed off on by Superintendents and Chief Superintendents in the Gardai as being safe to own our firearms and not a threat to the public or the peace.
I would like to know, and I’m sure the other licenced firearms owners would be interested as well, why you think that we want to murder children in Irish schools the way the Taliban just murdered 132 children in a Pakistani school yesterday.
Response from Sean Kelly
I don’t think you want to murder children, of course I don’t.
I’d also point out that I never once suggested that sporting gun owners or users would ever want to commit such an atrocity.
But that said, as a legislator on the Committee, I must consider the matter of guns being used for things other than sport.
That means I have to consider risk of atrocity. I am sorry if that offends you, as I genuinely do not intend that.
I’d further point out to you that such an atrocity is a key concern of the very Superintendents and Chief Superintendents that sign permits for weapons used by yourself and other target shooters.
As I said, I sit on the Justice Committee, I need to consider all possibilities – it’s my job.
And my reply:
You may not have intended to say those words; but I was watching, live, and say them you did. You specifically asked if the Gardai were worried that an atrocity like Dunblane or the Taliban attack yesterday could happen here, while discussing licenced firearms ownership.
Sir, you might as well have asked if they were worried about a zombie attack, it would have made as much sense.
I refer you to section four of the Act, where it states that a Garda *MAY NOT* issue a certificate if he or she believes the applicant would represent a danger to the public or the peace if issued a firearms certificate. In layman’s terms, the Gardai cannot legally issue a licence even if they wanted to, if they thought it might cause a problem. Even if they signed the paperwork, the licence would be null and void.
I also refer you to the point that we have been active in target shooting in Ireland since at least 1850 (according to the records in the National Botanic Garden’s library) without incident or injury.
You’re discussing the single safest sport in Ireland as though we were drug gang members. It’s wildly inappropriate and offensive. Every last one of us has been signed off on by a senior member of the Gardai at Superintendent rank or above.
There’s worrying about all possibilities Deputy, and there’s worrying about being hit by lightning while being attacked by a great white shark after winning the Lotto and the Euromilllions.
Please, familiarise yourself with the existing legislation as it stands. If no basic brief has been provided to you as yet, allow me:
That’s more intended for target shooting than other applications, but it covers the fundamentals. If even that is too much reading, please just remember this: the Gardai already have enormous powers to refuse licence applications and to revoke licences and repossess firearms if they have concerns over public safety. We already have the most draconian firearms legislation and the lowest rate of firearms ownership in the EU. And nobody gets a firearms licence in Ireland without having a good reason to have one; a safe place to use it; a secure place to store it; a raft of references from doctors and general character references; and a small host of other hoops they must jump through.
Our current firearms legislation just does not cause safety concerns in the mind of any informed occupant of the Clapham Omnibus. Comments like those made in the Committee this morning are offensive and hurtful to law-abiding decent people who do not deserve that kind of treatment.