Regulation of Firearms

The manufacture, use, and possession of firearms is tightly regulated.  Firearms are defined widely to include a variety of guns, stun guns, crossbows, prohibited weapons, defective firearms, component parts and devices capable of discharging ammunition.  A prohibited weapon is one of any description designed for the discharge of a noxious liquid, gas or thing.

It is an offence to possess, use or carry any firearm or ammunition other than as authorised by a firearms certificate in force.  Possession must be in accordance with the terms of the certificate.  Breach of any of the foregoing is an offence subject to punishment on summary conviction up to a  €5,000 fine or imprisonment for 12 months or both on an indictment, a fine up to €20,000 or imprisonment for up to seven years or both.

There are certain limited exceptions covering the Defence Forces, the Gardai, licensed firearm dealers and butchers and slaughterhouses. There are certain other exemptions subject to conditions for warehousing and transport companies, auctioneer, funfairs and carnivals (subject to restrictions and conditions), theatrical performances, ceremonies and museums. Certain of the exemptions are subject to strict conditions and require authority from the superintendent of an Garda Síochána for the district.  Breach of the condition of any license is an offence.

Restricted Firearms

Certain types of firearms or ammunition are declared restricted having regard to their category, power and effects.  Certain further types of firearms and ammunition may be prohibited entirely.  Persons possessing, using, carrying, manufacturing, selling, hiring, displaying, or importing a prohibited firearm or ammunition are guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction or an indictment with imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine of €20,000.

Firearm certificates are generally granted by the superintendent of a Garda Síochána for the area in which the applicant resides.  Applications for restricted firearm certificates are made directly to the Commissioner of Garda Síochána.  There are provisions for the renewal of certificates.  If a certificate is refused, a reason in writing is given for the refusal.  Limited and conditional certificates may be granted.

It is an offence to give any misleading information in relation to an application, forge a firearms certificate, possess a forged certificate.  Fees are payable. Certain types of firearms may not be licensed at all including in particular for those less than 30cm in length.  Certain limited categories of firearms are excepted.

Licences & Certifcates

There are conditions regarding the grant of a firearm certificate.  They may only be granted in respect of limited categories of firearms.  The person must prove their identity and competence.  Referees will be required.   Enquiries can be made of medical attendance including psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

Restricted firearms may only be licensed where there is good and sufficient reason for requiring such a firearm and where the firearm is the only type of weapon that is appropriate for the purpose required.

Owners or operators of firearm or pistol clubs must hold authorisations to store or use firearms and ammunition.

It is an offence for a person to facilitate or engage in the use of firearms for the purpose of an activity in which firearms are used to simulate combat or combat training.

Revocation of Firearm Certificate

Firearms certificates may be revoked at any time.

  • if there is no good reason for requiring them
  • the person cannot without danger to the public safety or security, be permitted to possess a firearm.
  • the person is declared to be disentitled the firearms certificate
  • where conditions of the firearm certificate have been  breached

Where a firearm certificate is refused or revoked, the person must deliver the firearm and ammunition to the superintendent of an Garda Síochána. He is informed of his right to dispose of it in a manner not contrary to law.  If he has not within three months, disposed of it in accordance with law, an Garda Síochána may after giving notice, destroy the firearm.

A firearm permit is required to bring a firearm into the state.

Disqualified Persons

Certain persons are not entitled to hold a firearms certificate:

  • persons under 16 years
  • persons of unsound mind
  • persons of intemperate habits
  • persons convicted of certain offences
  • persons bound over to keep peace subject to such conditions
  • persons not resident in the state (unless temporarily resident for a period of six months,

Dealers and Manufacturers

There are provisions for the registration and licensing of firearm dealers and manufacturers.  They are subject to licensing conditions and registration.  There are minimum conditions in respect of safety and security and the standard of construction of the premises.  A tax clearance certificate is required.

There are appeals to the District Court in respect of most decisions, to grant or refuse or renew firearms certificates or licenses under the legislation.

There are duties on persons who sell firearms or ammunition.  They must ensure that the person purchasing has a valid firearm certificate and that they are entitled to possess the same.  They must ensure that what they sell complies with the conditions of the certificate. There are restrictions on selling firearms to residents of certain countries.   They must send details by post to the Garda Síochána of the sale.

Firearms that are received for repair, test or proof may not be returned unless the requisite firearms certificate is produced and the terms and conditions thereof are complied with.

Firearms dealers must keep detailed registers of all purchases, hire, sales, repairs, and transactions.  Particulars must be demanded of purchasers and entered on the register.  The registers may be inspected by Garda Síochána who may take copies, et cetera.

Surrender of Weapons

There are provisions by which the Minister for Justice may allow the surrender of firearms, knives or offensive weapons. The person surrendering must give details of his name and address and is informed that the weapon may be tested forensically.

Proceedings may not be instituted against persons who surrender weapons in respect of the possession carrying and use of the firearm, flick knife or offensive weapon provided, it is surrendered in the manner specified.

The Garda Commissioner may by notice require any person lawfully possessing a firearm to surrender it for ballistics testing.

Where an offence under legislation is committed by a company and any officer, director, manager or secretary consented to, connived or approved the offence, that person is also guilty of an offence and may be proceeded against as if he had committed the offence himself.

Control Order

The Minister for Justice may make orders prohibiting the use and carriage of firearms of a particular class in public places throughout the State for periods not exceeding one month as may be specified. The purpose of this action is to restrict normal game shooting where it is deemed necessary to do so.

The Minister may if he believes it is necessary in the interests of public safety or security to make an order requiring every person residing in an area specified and having possession of any firearm or ammunition, to surrender the same to the Garda Síochána. The order may not last for more than one month.

Once an order is in place, the Garda Síochána may seize any firearm or ammunition in the area concerned specified in the order. After the order ceases, the Garda Síochána return the firearms or ammunition surrendered or seized. It is an offence to breach the terms of the order.


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