An expert group has recommended that gun owners go through a new licensing system, similar to the driver’s license scheme.
Those applying for a firearms license or “firearms certificate” for the first time must complete training at an authorized firing range before being issued a provisional license.
They would then be able to graduate to a full certificate, but would have to spend a minimum number of hours each year at an authorized scope to be eligible for renewal.
The recommendation is one of the Firea’s many significant changes The rms Expert Committee wants something set up around the training, licensing and supervision of gun owners in Ireland.
The commission is also recommending new categories of certificates, requiring owners to specify in advance what type of shooting they want to conduct.
Three types are proposed, including one for target shooting only and one for limited hunting and shooting for use on an applicant’s own land or land owned by a known person where they have permission to fire.
A third would be a full hunting and shooting certificate for use on a wider range of countries.
Another recommendation is that all shooting clubs, shooting ranges and shooting centers should have a garda permit, as the regulations currently only apply to ranges.
The committee believes that an inspection system should also be set up for them.
It also advises that verbal consent from a landowner should no longer suffice for hunters found shooting on private property, and that written evidence should be obtained.
Members also want gun owners to own multiple firearms
install the same enhanced security measures as firearms dealers.
In addition, they want it made clear that any violation of the Wildlife Acts involving the use of a firearm is also a violation of firearms law.
Their report was presented to Justice Department Secretary of State James Browne last week.
Mr Browne said no changes will be made on the basis of the report until consultations with interested groups and the general public have taken place.
There are currently just over 200,000 gun licenses in the country.
The commission said the current licensing system leaves a lot of freedom to the individual gardaí processing applications.
While this allowed for flexibility regarding an individual’s circumstances and the conditions that could be attached to certificates, it also created inconsistencies in how certificates were issued.
They said more harmonization would be helpful and address public safety concerns.
Members of the commission include two registered firearms dealers, several senior gardaí and Justice Department officials. Cork barrister Emma Meagher Neville served as chairman.
Since being set up last summer, they have had numerous meetings with representatives from Garda, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Northern Ireland Police.
They were also tasked with reviewing the type of firearms currently licensed under the legislation and several that have been suspended for several years, including semi-automatic center firearms, which have not been re-licensed since 2015.
The committee was unable to agree on whether licensing should resume or whether the weapon should be banned. Gardaí told the commission they wanted to ban it, citing its use in the shooting deaths of 77 people in Norway in 2011, 27 in Connecticut in 2012 and 51 in New Zealand in 2019.