Justice Committee to seek academic advice on firearms review

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has agreed to seek a range of academic perspectives as part of its on-going consideration of a recent review of firearms licencing issues. The Committee hopes that the input of experts, with independent analysis of the current trends in Ireland and optimum policy in other jurisdictions, will assist the Committee as it considers this complex policy area.

The Committee has also agreed to write to the Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald to ask her to consider requesting the Garda Inspectorate to independently assess the procedures and practices related to firearms licencing and the proposals contained in the Firearms Review, which was published by the Joint Department of Justice and Equality / Garda Síochána Working Group last November.

Following a call for public submissions, the Committee hosted a series of meetings in December and January with both the Working Group and representatives of shooting clubs with concerns around the Review’s findings. A delegation from the Committee also visited Garda HQ and Nurney Firing Range last month to hear at first hand the differing perspectives on the issue.

Committee Chairman David Stanton TD says: ““Having issued a call for public submissions and hosted valuable discussions on the Review’s findings in Leinster House, the Committee understands that there are differing perspectives on the holding of firearms and firearm licensing. The visits to Garda HQ and the Nurney firing range last month– and the detailed briefings received – helped to further inform the Committee in shaping our own response to the Review.

This an extraordinarily complex and emotive policy area, and the Committee remains intent on charting a balanced and proportionate course as it weighs up the strong arguments on both sides. We are acutely conscious that any policy decisions taken in this area must be underpinned by reliable statistics and an understanding of best practice in other jurisdictions. With this in mind, the Committee is now seeking advice from leading academics working in the area, and may decide to invite them to engage with the Committee at future public hearings.

The Committee also agreed to ask Minister Fitzgerald to give consideration to engaging the Garda Inspectorate to conduct an independent analysis of the issues at hand.”

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