To the head of the Dail Committee on Justice…

Sent by email to the head of the Dail Committee that saw this lovely statement by a TD…

Dear Deputy,
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 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, when a TD honestly asked if we would be murdering children in Irish schools the way the Taliban just murdered 132 children in a Pakistani school yesterday, he wasn’t informed that:

  • a) We are people who have been signed off on by senior Gardai as being safe to own firearms – something the Gardai are not legally permitted to do if they believe that we would be a danger to the public or the peace;
  • b) We are honest, decent people who spent most of last night hugging their children a little tighter because we watched the news; not psychotic murderous deviants with an urge to visit incredible suffering on people;
  • c) That even asking that question was deeply offensive and defamatory to a huge number of law-abiding, tax-paying voters.

I would also appreciate it if you could ensure that before the next meeting to discuss this topic, that the TDs who will be in attendance are given a basic briefing on Irish firearms legislation as it currently stands because the questions asked today showed a complete lack of knowledge of even the rudimentary basics of that legislation.

For examples:

  • – we do not use assault rifles in the Olympics and they cannot be licenced in Ireland. No fully automatic firearm can be licenced anywhere in the EU as they are category A firearms and are only held by police and the army.
  • – the magazine in a shotgun is a fixed part, not a detachable one; changing it is not a trivial operation and doing so to give a larger magazine would void your licence leaving you breaking the Firearms Act by possession of an unlicenced restricted firearm, the penalty for which is up to seven years in prison and twenty thousand euro in fines. If proven you had this to endanger another person, that sentence goes up to life in prison and whatever fine the court cares to apply.  Saying that you can just change the magazine is like saying that a driver can “just” drive down Grafton street at sixty miles an hour running down pedestrians during Christmas shopping season. It might be technically possible, but we do not lock up every person who applies for a driving licence on the basis that they might do so. Our system of laws does not punish people for possible future crimes they may commit.
If no briefing on the basics of firearms licencing has yet been provided, may I suggest this one? It’s a bit basic and aimed at target shooters, but covers the basics :

And this final point seems minor, but language shapes thought Deputy, so I would ask that you please take heed of this point:We do not have weapons. We have firearms. A weapon is something that has been used to harm a human being (as in “we discovered the weapon at the scene your Honour”). The Gardai have rather strong views on weapons, so they don’t licence them and would arrest anyone looking for such a licence. The Gardai issue licences for firearms, which we use as tools for specific jobs – farmers to control vermin, target shooters for sport, vets for humane dispatch, hunters for hunting food, airport officials for scaring birds, race officals for starting races and so on. We don’t have emotional connections to our tools, though we do appreciate good tools if they let us do a job better. But these are not fetishistic objects, they are just equipment to do a job. It is the job itself that we pay attention to, not the tools.


Responses from the Chairman on twitter:

Apologies if my terminology was not as precise as it should have been this morning. I presume you will make a submission?

there is an open invitation to any person/individual to make submission. See Oireachtas website for guidelines & web address.

anyone who makes detailed submission & requests opportunity to engage in person in public should be facilitated.

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