Feck’s sake. You’d think that the Garda Commissioner of all people would be better informed as to what he can and can’t do with his Superintendents. And as to Deasy and Mitchell, well, the fact that Enda Kenny has pretty much ordered them to attend a pistol range to find out what the blank they’re spouting off about says an awful lot.
Meanwhile, sent this on to the national papers. No sign of a pick-up yet though.
In recent weeks, Deputies Deasy and Mitchell and others have engaged in scaremongering on a widespread scale in the media (including this newspaper), saying that there has been a massive rise in the licencing of pistols, and attempting to link this alleged rise to the recent rise in levels of gun crime. As a licenced firearms owner, I wish to offer the following counterpoints:
- (*) The number of pistols licenced in Ireland per capita has fallen by 20% since 1971.
- (*) Since 1971, our firearms laws have been tightened three times, making ours the most restrictive laws in the EU.
- (*) Every single licenced firearm in Ireland is licenced to someone who was personally approved as safe to own and use that firearm by a Garda Superintendent.
- (*) Garda Superintendents have exceptionally wide-ranging powers when it comes to granting or refusing licences. They can – and do – requiregun safes, home inspections, house alarms, access to medical records, proficiency courses and membership of authorised firearms ranges.
- (*) Firearms ranges are also inspected and authorised by the Gardai, to exceptionally high construction and safety standards. Many firearms ranges have spent tens of thousands of euros to come up to the Gardai requirements over the past two years.
- (*) While there is a distinct difference in how many pistol licences are granted by different Garda Districts, this is caused by the requirement to be a member of an approved range – more licences are granted in areas closer to approved ranges.
- (*) In 2007 the Gardai, the Department of Justice, the Irish Sports Council, the governing bodies of target shooting sports, firearms dealers and other stakeholders, all came together to found the Firearms Consultation Panel under the aegis of the Minister for Justice. This groundbreaking body allows all parties to find safe, efficient, well-informed solutions to the concerns of those who use firearms and those who draft and those who enforce firearms law.
In short, the concerns that Deputies Deasy and Mitchell and others have attempted to raise are not based on facts or statistics or current procedures, and serve no useful function other than to scaremonger in the lead-up to the local elections. This is a shameful act on their part.
Yours in Sport,