Belfast Telegraph

Firearm trade blasts new laws on guns
Sport of shooting may be adversely affected

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
29 January 2005

New gun laws in Ulster came in for criticism today - from the firearms trade.

The Gun Trade Association (NI) warned the legislation could unfairly affect shooting as a sport - and threatens the Irish National Rifle team.

Association chairman David Robinson said team members from the Republic are to have their Northern Ireland firearms certificates effectively revoked by the legislation coming into force next week.

"There is a lot of legal confusion but if it is not sorted, the Irish National team will not be able to compete," he said.

A shooter in the Republic must possess a European Pass, a visitors certificate issued by the Firearms Licensing and Explosives Branch and their firearms certificate to travel into Northern Ireland to shoot.

With the new act coming into force from February, the organisation is also warning its provisions are too invasive, complicated and cumbersome.

Under the new legislation, police who issue firearms licences may contact an applicant's GP to check for stress or depression. Applicants must also provide the names of two referees who can vouch for them over a two-year period.

"Where is the public safety enhancement here in that applicants are not going to give names of people who will speak against them?" Mr Robinson asked.

An inspector with the firearms and explosives branch of the Police Service said, however: "The fundamental change is that it will be a re-granting rather than renewal system. Every five years we will be looking at every single person who possesses a firearm in Northern Ireland to see if it can still be justified.

"We will not be going to GPs as a matter of course but applicants have to agree to give us permission to do so on the forms they fill in."

The association claims there is discrimination on the grounds of age in aspects of the legislation, particularly against the young.

Mr Robinson said: "We would like a level playing field so that more people can be interested in the very great sport of shooting."

A Northern Ireland Office spokesman said: "The new legislation strikes a balance between public safety and the reasonable expectations of those who enjoy shooting as a sport or a leisure pastime.

"The requirement for an applicant for a firearm certificate to provide two referees, and to also gives permission for the police to approach his GP if they are concerned about a medical condition, reflect the position in Great Britain.

"In the event that an approach is made to the GP, it is the GP who decides what, if any, information is released to the police. Both of these requirements were recommended by Lord Cullen following his inquiry into the shootings at Dunblane Primary School in 1996.

"The requirement to hold a visitor's permit is a national requirement for all visitors wishing to shoot in any part of the UK. "

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?