20th March 2017
David Stanton, T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration & Integration today announced the commencement of a public consultation exercise concerning controls governing realistic imitation firearms.
Announcing this review and public consultation, the Minister of State said
“Realistic Imitation Firearms pose a threat to public safety when misused.
While I recognise that law abiding members of the public gain enjoyment from the responsible use of Realistic Imitation Firearms such as at authorised airsoft venues, I want to protect this lawful use by ensuring the right regulatory framework is in place.
Today I am inviting all interested parties to express their views on matters such as sale, purchase and marking of Realistic Imitation Firearms”.
Under the public consultation process, which commences today, organisations or individuals wishing to contribute to the review are invited to send their submissions by 1st May 2017. Further details are provided in the invitation for submissions, which is published on the website of the Department of Justice & Equality, www.justice.ie, and may also be downloaded here – http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Public_consultation_on_controls_governing_realistic_imitation_firearms
Note for editors: Background
A). What is a Realistic Imitation Firearm?
- A realistic imitation firearm (RIF) means anything which has the appearance of being a firearm (other than such weapons as mentioned in Section 1 of the Firearms Act 1925 as amended), whether or not it is capable of discharging any shot, bullet or other missile.
- Under Section 9A of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990, a Realistic Imitation Firearm is defined as, “a device that appears to the observer so realistic as to make it indistinguishable from a firearm”.
- Under Irish legislation, a RIF is not capable of discharging a pellet or other missile with a muzzle energy greater than 1 joule
B). Which laws currently apply to RIFs?
- RIFs are not defined as firearms under the law and consequently the usual statutory controls associated with firearms do not apply including;
- Licensing of private possession and use by An Garda Síochána.
- Import/export under licence issued by the Minister for Justice and Equality.
- Sale through registered dealers.
- The statutory controls which currently apply are Section 9A of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990 as amended which provides for an offence of having a Realistic Imitation Firearm in any public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse and Section 9B which provides that An Garda Síochána may authorise the use of RIFs at specific venues.
C). Which aspects are currently unregulated?
- Importation, sale and the age at which RIFs may be purchased continue to be unregulated and this public consultation in particular focuses on these key aspects.
D). What is the purpose of the Consultation?
- While recognising that members of the public gain enjoyment from the use of RIFs in a responsible and legal manner, it is recognised that in the hands of criminals these realistic looking ‘toy guns’ may pose a real threat to public safety.
The aim of the consultation is to inform the way forward in relation to the regulation of RIFs.