Firearms Offences

A person who possesses a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence or to resist arrest is liable on conviction on indictment for imprisonment for up to14 years and an unlimited fine. There are provisions that endeavour to secure a minimum sentence of not less than five years. Where the minimum punishment applies, the power of the Minister for Justice to commute or remit punishment does not apply. The prison rules by which a sentence may be reduced for good conduct and industry do apply.

It is an offence for a person to have possession, sell or transfer of silencer for a firearm unless this is authorised in writing by a Superintendent of a Garda Síochána. Authority may not be given unless the person holds a firearm certificate and Garda Síochána are satisfied that the possession, sale or transfer will not endanger public safety and there is a special need for the authorisation.

A person who discharges a firearm being reckless as to whether any person will be injured is guilty of an offence. The offence is subject on summary conviction of up to 12 months imprisonment, a €6,254fine or both or an indictment up to seven years imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both.

It is an offence to shorten the barrel of a shotgun or rifle to less than 61cm and 50cm respectively.  It is an offence for a person to convert into a firearm, anything which resembles a firearm but is not capable of discharging a projectile.

It is an offence for a person without lawful authority and reasonable cause to possess a shortened shotgun rifle or a  converted or modified firearm.  A person guilty of such offence is subject to imprisonment for up to 10 years and an unlimited fine on indictment.  There are provisions aimed at securing a minimum sentence of five years.

Where a person is convicted of an offence under Firearms Legislation, the weapon, firearm or article may be ordered to be destroyed after the appeal period expires.

Possession with Intent

Any person who possesses or controls firearms or ammunition with intent to endanger life or cause serious injury to property or to enable any other person to do so shall be guilty of an offence. It is punishable on indictment by imprisonment for up to life. The court may have regard to whether the person has previous convictions in sentencing.

There is a minimum sentence of not less than 10 years’ imprisonment. Because of concerns regarding the prescription of minimum sentence by law, there are provisions whereby the court may in exceptional and specific circumstances where it would be unjust to impose the mandatory sentence, impose a sentence of less than 10 years. It is the purpose of the legislation that the court should, other than in exceptional circumstances, impose a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment.

It is not lawful to export or transport firearms or ammunition unless authorised by an Garda Síochána. It is not lawful to import firearms or ammunition or prohibited weapons unless authorised by a licence.

Occasional licences to import a prohibited weapon may be granted by the Minister for Defence subject to conditions. A continuing license may be granted by the Minister to a firearms dealer. Officers of Customs and Excise have powers in respect of firearms and ammunition that apply to all restricted or prohibited items of import or export. An Post  have powers to detain and examine articles to vouch compliance.

Firearm Resisting Arrest

A person who uses or produces a firearm or imitation firearm for the purpose of resisting arrest or aiding the escape or rescue of a person from lawful custody is subject to an offence liable on conviction of imprisonment for up to life and an unlimited fine. The court in particular must have regard to whether the person has been previously convicted for firearm offences.

Where a person over 18 years is convicted, there are provisions that endeavour to ensure a minimum sentence of 10 years. There are more stringent provisions for a second offence.

It is an offence for a person to possess or control a firearm or ammunition in circumstances that gives rise to the reasonable inference that he does not control it or possess it for a lawful purpose unless he proves that he does in fact hold it for a lawful purpose. A person is liable to imprisonment for up to 14 years and an unlimited fine on conviction. There are provisions that endeavour to secure a minimum sentence of five years.

Hijacking with Firearm

A person who takes a motor vehicle without consent who at the time had a firearm or imitation firearm is guilty of an offence subject to imprisonment not exceeding 14 years or an unlimited fine. In imposing sentence, the court may in particular have regard whether the person has previous convictions for firearms or terrorist offences.

There are provisions that attempt to endeavour to secure a minimum sentence of five years where a person is convicted of this offence. A court may not impose the minimum sentence, only if there are exceptional and specific circumstances that would make the minimum term unjust in the circumstances. This may include a guilty plea, whether the person has cooperated and the circumstances.

These provisions apply in relation to a person convicted of a first offence. Where a person is convicted of a second or subsequent offence or a first offence under the provision and has previous convictions in respect to firearms offences, the court shall impose a minimum sentence of not less than five years.

Search Persons

Members of an Garda Síochána may stop search and arrest any person without a warrant who they believe to be in possession or were using a firearm in contravention of the legislation. The firearm may be seized and detained.

Where a person is convicted of an offence or is ordered to be subject to supervision or to enter a recognisance to keep the peace with a condition not to possess a firearm, the court may order the forfeiture snd disposal of firearms, prohibited weapons and ammunition found in the person’s possession.

A Garda Superintendent may issue a search order authorising members of the Gardai under his command to search places mentioned in the order. The search order authorises members of Garda Síochána to enter the premises concerned within 48 hours and to inspect the place, take the names, address found. The Gardai making such a search may arrest without warrant.rm Hijacking

Garda Powers

A Gardai may arrest without warrant any person whom he believes with reasonable cause or suspects to be committing any of the above offences in respect of possession of firearms et cetera.

There are provisions whereby premises can be searched under warrant to recover anything that may be evidence in any of the above firearm offence.

A member of an Garda Síochána who suspects with reasonable cause that a person is contravening the above firearms provisions in a public place, may search the person and detain him for search, search a vehicle, vessel or aircraft where such article may be found and if he thinks fit, require the person in control of such s vehicle to stop it and refrain from moving it.  Evidence may be seized and detained.

Search Premises

The Gardai may enter certain premises without a warrant for the purpose of enforcement of firearm legislation. This includes premises,

  • manufacturing selling or testing firearms.
  • of persons carrying such goods for reward
  • warehouses
  • docks, quays
  • Ships, wagons, lorries, vessels, boats, et cetera.

Gardai may inspect any firearms, ammunition or case package found on such premises or in a public place which he reasonably believes or suspects to contain firearms or ammunition. Firearms or ammunitions so found may be seized if they are reasonably believed to be suspected to be imported, exported or moved in contravention of the legislation.

It is the duty of any person having custody or control of firearms to provide facilities for inspection by the Gardai and produce firearms and produce the requisite documentation relating to them. It is an offence to interrupt or impede the Gardai or refuse to give information regarding the consignor or consignee or owner of the ammunition or firearms.

Produce Firearm Certificate

An Garda Síochána may demand any person who they see or believe to be in possession of firearms or ammunition to produce the firearms certificate. If the person fails to produce the permit and allow to be verified, authorising him to use or carry the firearm, then unless the person shows he is entitled to have possession or use or carry the firearm without a firearms certificate, he must furnish his name and address.

If the person fails or refuses to give the name or address or gives a misleading address, he is guilty of an offence and may be arrested.

In a prosecution for an offence under Firearms Legislation, the onus is on the defendant to prove the existence of the firearms certificate. Once the possession, use or carriage of the firearm or ammunition is proved, it is not necessary to prove the person was not entitled to have it in his possession.


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