We wish to call for a review of the Firearms Act and to have the remit of the Firearms Consultation Panel extended
Firearms law in Ireland is currently spread across 19 Acts, 2 EU directives and well over 60 Statutory Instruments, before case law and the Garda Commissioner’s guidelines are taken into account. It is estimated that fewer than two dozen people in the state have a working understanding of Irish firearms law as a result of this.
Since 2006 – since which time three acts, approximately twenty statutory instruments and an EU directive have been added – the Law Reform Commission has been calling for a restatement of the Firearms Act to simplify this situation. High Court Justice Peter Charleton has stated, in McCarron-v-Kearney, “the piecemeal spreading over multiple pieces of legislation of the statutory rules for the control of firearms is undesirable. Codification in that area is almost as pressing a need as it is in the area of sexual violence.”
Since 2006, an expert panel has existed, consisting of representatives of the target shooting and hunting community, their insurers, the firearm dealers trade, the Gardai, the Department of Sport, and chaired by the Department of Justice. This panel, the Firearms Consultation Panel, has advised on technical aspects of firearms practice and how that practice and firearms legislation can best coexist. However that Panel’s remit was only to oversee the implementation of the 2006 and 2009 acts and as such is now coming to a close.
We, the undersigned, wish to call upon the Minister for Justice to review the Firearms Act and the Law Reform Commission’s call for a restatement of that Act, and to extend the remit of the Firearms Consultation Panel to become a permanent advisory panel to the Firearms Unit of the Department of Justice. We believe that the current state of affairs with regard to firearms legislation in Ireland is unacceptably complex and that dismissing the Firearms Consultation Panel at this time would be a significant mistake in light of that complexity and the urgent need to address it.