Frank Brophy takes a critical look at the:
Firearms Licensing Situation in Ireland.
Firearms licences first made their appearance in Ireland when the 1903 Pistols Act was introduced by the Westminster government. This was followed by the introduction of a serious bill in 1920, the Firearms Act, which was the forerunner of pretty well all firearms legislation today in these islands. In the Republic a 1924 Firearms Act was rushed through which paved the way for the 1925 Firearms Act that most of us are familiar with. In 1964 a further Firearms Act was introduced as were other minor amendments since then until the 2009 Amendments to the Firearms acts via the Criminal Justice Bill made their appearance.
I had reason to research the subject just prior to last Christmas on foot a request received from a US University professor in California who specialises in Criminal Law and Justice. The mission was to discover if British Firearms law applicable in Britain differed in any way throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales prior to 1922. Surprisingly, it turned out that in real terms firearms legislation per se had not made an appearance until the 1903 Pistols Act which required registration of all firearms with a barrel length of less than nine inches – handguns! Another form of minor registration was included covering owners who wished to carry their firearms outside of their own private land. As the majority of the population did not own guns or have access to them, it appears that there was little necessity for firearms legislation in the first place. This all changed in the aftermath of both the 1917 Winter Revolution in Tsarist Russia and World War One. Vast numbers of citizens who had received military training and arms overturned the ruling classes in Russia and the rest is history. A repeat performance in Britain was always a possibility after 1918, with literally millions of working class men back from the trenches who were fully competent in handling firearms. The government feared that these men might turn on them, as had happened in Russia and a committee was set up to formulate proposals for restrictions on the ownership of firearms. Hence the introduction of the 1920 Firearms Act.
This new legislation allowed the Police to control who could legally hold firearms and to refuse licences to anyone whom they considered to be unfit. Thus appeared the forerunner of further draconian measures subsequently imposed on citizens in all corners of these islands. It’s highly unlikely that much notice was taken of that 1920 act in Ireland. The War of Independence was drawing to a conclusion, followed by the signing of the ill-fated treaty which lead to civil war. Subsequently the new Irish Government produced its own 1924 Firearms Act designed to shore up the infant State’s position until the introduction of the 1925 Act. Most firearms licence application since then have been dealt with in accordance with this Act, apart that is, from the Ministerial-sanctioned permits that no one is supposed to know about! The 1964 Act brought air-guns into the licensing system and it was at this point that I became aware of the “nod and a wink” method all too often used in the issue of firearms certificates. Following the implementation of the 1964 Act I disposed of my two air-guns which included the Diana rifle bought by my father for my seventh birthday. In 1965, just out of my teens, I applied for a .22 pistol certificate. The application disappeared into the standard black hole for over six months. Sound familiar? An irate telephone call to the Garda Superintendent concerned brought startling results. Initially he said he was refusing the licence because he didn’t think I was a suitable person to have a firearm’s licence, he didn’t know that I already held a .22 rifle licence. When he realised that both he and my father had been at school together everything changed – he then deemed me to be a suitable person and the licence was delivered to the house the following morning by motorcycle. There isn’t a section in any act that covers this type of situation, yet that was the yardstick used. The licence should only have been issued if I qualified under the terms laid down in the Act. If I had not made the cheeky telephone call, it’s unlikely that the application would ever have been heard of again.
Processing licence applications since then was all too frequently carried out nation-wide in parallel fashion right up to 2009. Geographic location, a Superintendent’s personal whims, Garda policy, if someone had a headache, Department of Justice interference and sometimes whether the local Garda liked an individual or not, accounted for an inestimable number of licence applications not being processed in accordance with the law of the land. Far too many went “missing”.
When the latest amendments to the firearms acts were introduced in 2009 we were led to believe that all this was going to be a thing of the past. That and other agreed procedures to eliminate abuses of the system would be fully implemented and the law would now apply equally, nationwide. The shooting community actually believed that this would happen. Unfortunately it was not to be the case. Within weeks of its introduction the new licensing system descended into sheer chaos. The people tasked with implementing it had difficulty understanding the complicated 10 page application form, as did many applicants. Chief Superintendents, now involved in issuing licences for the first time, brought the handling of applications to an entirely new low. Once again applications went “missing”. Despite the Garda Commissioner’s press statement that applications had not gone astray, a large file of complaints on NARGC Chief’s desk says otherwise. I know five individuals who were asked to fill out the 10 page application a second time because the originals had been lost within the Garda System. This involved securing further photographs, copies of club membership cards, shooting permissions etc. The entire sad list is now with the Data Protection Commissioner who is expected to take Court action shortly.
Of more serious concern is the number of licence renewals that were refused by Chief Superintendents. An extraordinarily large number of these refusals are now before the High Court and it is inappropriate for me to comment any further. Suffice it to say that the trust placed by the shooting community in the new system is long since gone, probably never to return. All eyes are now on the High Court and also on the new Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, to see if he is prepared to grasp the nettle and bang a few senior heads together. I had a brief conversation with Mr. Callinan last year and despite not knowing that he was going to be appointed to the top job, I made it clear that we were very unhappy with the licensing situation. His response was to the effect that it will all work out ok in the end. That could be interpreted either way. We have to assume that he is smart enough to realise that if the current trend being followed by over 50% of the nation’s Chief Superintendents continues, High Court appeals will be lodged ad infinitum to the detriment of his annual budget.
In October 2010 I had an in-depth conversation with then Justice Minister Dermot Ahern about the overall situation. Just as I had not known that Mr. Callinan was on the way in, I did not know that Mr. Ahern was on his way out - he had decided to quit politics when his term of office expired. The Minister repeated the usual crime prevention clichés he had used in the Dail about firearms licensing. On this occasion however, he was dealing with someone who knew the answers and I named the Judges who had overturned umpteen licence refusals in the High Court while Mr. Ahern had only ever referred to a statement by the sole Judge who had rejected one single application. I explained the injustice of banning Practical Pistol Shooting and to be honest I believe that he understood that it was a bad decision. In what was a cordial conversation, it became apparent that he was not quite as bullish in his opinions as had been the case with his Dail speeches. Perhaps the astronomical number of High Court appeals had softened his attitude. After all, his new Law has the dubious honour of being the most challenged piece of legislation in Irish legal history. One of his final comments brought a smile to our faces. He said that he had steered the new legislation through all the house stages and into law, leaving it to those who were best qualified to decide what firearms should be licensed – the Gardai (Police). We both laughed at that!
All of which brings me to a final thought. Having been in almost constant dispute with the Gardai since 1965 and occasionally so with the clerks in the Department of Justice over licence issues, I am of the opinion that firearms licensing should be entrusted to a new body driven solely by the provisions laid down in the law of the land. In my opinion the Gardai and the DOJ can no longer be trusted to deal with the subject impartially, so the task should be moved elsewhere. Take for example, the Gun Safes issue which went all the way to the Supreme Court in 2003. There, the Garda Commissioner who had appealed a High Court loss, lost again - and it was stated by the Judges that Garda Policy has no legal standing. The Supreme Court clearly stated that only the Legislators can make policy. Curiously, in 2009 a new Garda Firearms Licensing Policy Unit was established in Headquarters in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Why on earth would they need a Firearms Licensing Policy Unit if Garda Policy has no legal standing? Perhaps I’m missing something somewhere? Will the new government eventually resurrect a former Justice Minister’s proposals to establish a central firearms licensing Registry similar to that operating in Northern Ireland? It would go a long way to sorting the present mess and probably save the State a fortune in legal costs in the future. In the meantime, our High Court actions are now in their final phase and a full hearing is scheduled for early January 2012.
Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into firearms control.
One week before the Home Affairs Select Committee was scheduled to sit to debate the tragic Cumbrian murders, Chairman, Keith Vas put down an early day motion in the House of Commons calling for support for legislation to make the minimum age for firearms ownership to be 18. In the first instance I would suggest that this action should have disqualified him from taking any part in the proceedings and secondly he should have been removed from the Committee. Furthermore, I would remind him that youths of 17 can be sent off to wars, the legality of which, on occasions, has been rather doubtful, to say the least.
The Select Committee
Oral evidence was taken by the members of the committee from representatives of the main shooting organisations as well as from some antigun lobbyists and others. However, it is important to record that one of the last to give evidence was antigun Peter Nickles, Attorney-General for the District of Columbia, (DC) U.S.A. The District of Columbia had for thirty five years the most oppressive gun law and the highest homicide rate of any U.S. State!
In his evidence on his strict gun laws he stated that “the estimate of the number of individuals who own a legally registered gun is less than 5%. In 1976 the city of Washington DC imposed a ban on firearms. Prior to 1976, there was in excess of 45 thousand firearms privately owned.” …...” Those firearms are probably still out there somewhere. In 2008 the very famous Heller case, which ruled that there was a Second Amendment right to own firearms for protection in the home, and that struck down the ban that Washington DC had imposed.” He later stated; “So, bottom line, Washington, DC has been one of the strictest jurisdictions, out of line with the views of the NRA, with what should be the situation, and it has been out of line with many other states in the country that effectively have no gun laws.”
Peter Nickles and District of Columbia v. Heller.
Peter Nickles did not inform the enquiry that he lost the case, District of Columbia v. Heller in which the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of Dick Anthony Heller, a licensed special police officer for the District of Columbia, that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for private use, (June 26 2008). This was the first Supreme Court case in United States history to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for self defence. After the Court Ruling Washington DC enjoyed a massive 25% drop in its murder rate. It is now lower than it has been for nearly half a century.
In fact Washington DC was known as the ‘murder capital of the U.S’. So the state with strictest gun laws had the highest gun crime.
On 20 December on receiving the Home Affairs Committee report, which was only published that day, a promised debate took place in the House of Commons beginning at 6.20.p.m. During the debate Tobias Ellwood, Conservative MP, Bournemouth East and Vice President of the British Shooting Sports Council, (BSSC) stated “…but there are ways to prevent handguns from being used by the general population. For example, they could be held and stored in armouries and taken out only by professionals…..” The BSSC is supposed to be defending shooting!!! Chris Williamson, Labour, in an intervention “….would he agree that it would be appropriate to store all firearms in a secure armoury in a similar way?”
Ellwood; …….”it makes sense to allow handguns to be used in the UK, if they are kept under lock and key and if appropriate measures are put in place, such as a requirement that the safe be opened by three key owners.”
I would like to ask Mr Elwood his suggestions for who might be the ‘three key holders’ and would he apply the same conditions for the Army and armed Police squads. I am more than a little surprised that a man who served in the armed forces could be so illogical. I suggest that this is one more example of the growing lack of respect for politicians, of all parties, in this day and age.
Tobias Ellwood was born in New York, grew up in Germany and Austria and served for five years in the Army. He is Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox. He is also training with the UK shooting squad for the 2012 London Olympics!
As Vice President of the BSSC Mr Elwood is expected to represent the views of all the major shooting organisations and their memberships. These include the NRA, the NRSA, BASC, CPSA, and the Gun Trade Association etc. I suggest Mr Elwood should resign his position forthwith.
Shooting Organisations in the UK
I would now strongly recommend that all those interested in Shooting of all forms need to wake up to the fact that if shooting is to survive in the UK, a radical change is urgently needed. Members of Shooting Organisations should demand immediate action to get rid of the complacency, and should question what value they gain from their expensive subscriptions
Read submissions to:
By Joseph A Kelly, Chairman
View and listen to Mike Yardley of the Shooting Sports Trust speaking on the merits of sporting shooting on You tube:
From The Director.
I draw the attention of members to just how well National Shooting Association is respected in media circles. Shortly after the dreadful happenings in Cumbria your Chairman and Media Spokesman, Joe Kelly, was contacted and invited to comment on the law regarding firearms and shot guns. Joe was contacted first by the BBC Regional broadcasters including Radio Northampton, Three Counties Radio and BBC Radio Scotland.
In addition our Chairman was asked to write a piece for the Scottish Herald. This was published in full the next day. You can read Joe’s piece in our News Items.
All of this indicates how much progress your Association has made and the influence it has in the media.
We remain a campaigning Association and will not knuckle down to injustice.
Frank Gear F.R.A.S. BSc.Chem. Eng.
Cumbria shooting tragedy offers no lessons for the future - see Telegraph article.
For a short article written by the Chairman, Joe Kelly, in The Scottish Herald see:
Are you satisfied with the way your sport shooting facilities are provided? Take the Sport England shooting survey on:
Joe Kelly is pleased to announce his recovery from recent orthopaedic surgery occasioned by an assault that took place at the Sportsmans A.G.M. in May of 2008. He attended the Kelmarsh Game Fair on Sunday and Monday of the Easter weekend to meet and chat with existing and prospective members.
One of the strongest themes, promulgated endlessly, both by those who are frightened by guns and those who believe that only agents of the state should be armed, is that the more guns there are in the hands of private citizens, the more gun crime there will be. The fact that the actual results of relaxing gun laws so that private citizens can obtain and use guns for self-defence is always socially beneficial, does not seem to affect the arguments of those who, for whatever reason, oppose that policy.
In 2008, the Mayor of Washington DC and his lawyers argued to the Supreme Court of the USA, as forcefully and emotionally as they could, that relaxing their 35 year-old ban on handguns would usher in a new wave of murder and mayhem. Fortunately the Supreme Court ruled against the ban - and, in 2009 the citizens of Washington DC enjoyed a stunning 25% drop in their murder rate. It is now lower than it has been for 40 years.
This excellent result is NOT because numerous citizens of Washington DC have successfully defended themselves with guns against criminal attack. The city authorities have obeyed the Supreme Court slowly and reluctantly, by making the process of obtaining authorisation both complex and unpleasant. So the number of citizens lawfully owning guns for self-defence is still extremely low. But ... the publicity given to the Supreme Court decision was immense. It seems reasonable to suggest that a substantial proportion of this very large reduction in murder in 2009 has arisen because of a widespread perception that prospective victims might be armed.
For more in depth info, read: Iraq -v- Washington
"The Columbine Cause" by Evan Long.
Were we told the full truth of the infamous and tragic events that took place at Columbine High School on the 20th April 1999? Or was there another hidden story? The two gunmen were named as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, but were they the only assailants, or were there others who have thus far gone unnamed and who have thus far escaped Justice?
View "The Columbine Cause" by Evan Long on: http://www.xmail.net/evanlong/tcc/
Gun Facts - Your Guide to Debunking Gun Control Myths
INTRODUCTION: Gun Facts is a free e-book that debunks common myths about firearms crime and gun control. It is intended as a reference guide for journalists, activists, politicians, and other people interested in restoring honesty to the firearms debate.
Gun Facts has 98 pages of information. Each chapter lists common gun control myths, then lists a number of documented and cited facts (with nearly 500 detailed footnotes). Thus when a neighbour, editor or politician repeats some sound bite about firearms control policy, you can quickly find that myth then enlighten them with real information.
On the weekend of the 8th/9th August, the Broomhill Boys played host to Mr Joe Ekins, (front row - second from left, seated). Joe, now 86, was a 21 year old tank gunner on a Sherman Firefly tank in Normandy in August 1944. To read the story of his fateful assignation 65 years ago with the Tigers of the 12th SS Panzer Division, click on the picture above.
NSA regrets to have to report that Mr Joe Ekins passed away on the evening of Wednesday 1st February 2012. He was a trooper in every sense of the word.
New South African Firearms Act branded unconstitutional by South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA) click for link
Should the United States sign up to the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty with all its domestic and international implications? As told below in "The Great Gun Debate" the Rev. Jeremiah Wright thinks yes, but does Obama have enough political capital left to carry it through in the face of undoubtedly very stiff opposition on the domestic American front which sees any attack on firearms ownership as a cultural war move? Perhaps not. click here for link to news item.
Also, read the response of the American NRA to the proposed Organisation of American States Treaty on Firearms Trafficking, known by it's Spanish acronym "CIFTA". Click here for link.
Officer arrested in connection with missing firearms enquiry - 2nd April 2009
Press release from British Shooting concerning 2012 Olympics.
Members of the N.R.A. of the U.K. have received the following communication from British Shooting concerning the venue for the shooting events of the 2012 London Olympics. Readers may find the conclusions listed on page three of particular interest. This is a revised statement from British Shooting shortly after which the author, the Chairman, resigned - as did the Secretary. This statement makes it "crystal clear" that British Shooting supports Bisley as the favoured venue for 2012 shooting. N.B. the CPSA has now announced that it is withdrawing from the process of amalgamation of the main shooting organisations that was to be know as NATSS - the National Association of Target Shooting Sports.
This Association supports The National Shooting Centre at Bisley in its bid to host the Olympic shooting events of 2012 as this is the home of British shooting and thus the natural and logical choice for all 2012 shooting events. Legacy, in line with the Olympic Charter, should be at the heart of any Olympic provision. However, Government plans to grant section 5 dispensation to a small elite team are completely incompatible with Fundamental Principles of Olympism and are thus in breach of the Olympic Charter, and are therefore thoroughly unacceptable to all who value fair play and equality.
The Great Gun Debate
On Wednesday 1st April representatives from National Shooting Association attended “The Great Gun Debate”. This was a televised debate and was filmed at Kings College Library, Chancery Lane, London. Kings College Library has an illustrious past because, before becoming a university library, the building was the home of The Public Records Office (now moved to Kew) and once housed famous landmark documents such as The Magna Carta, the ultimate document guaranteeing freedom from oppression and tyranny. In the basement, now functioning as offices and study rooms, one can still see the vaults which once housed Magna Carta and other famous documents.
The subject of The Great Gun Debate was the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, and whether or not the United States should sign up to it, having previously rejected it in 2006. The security precautions were very tight with at least one member of the audience objecting to being body searched by hired security guards. This led to much conjecture as to who the mystery speaker would be. All we knew was that it was someone “close to Obama”.
Representing the N.R.A. of America, and in opposition to the Treaty, was Wayne LaPierre. The mystery speaker in favour of the Treaty and representing the IANSA position turned out to be The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, formerly Barack Obama’s church Pastor, from whom Senator Obama, as he then was, had to distance himself during the Presidential election campaign when his erstwhile Pastor became something of a liability.
There was short opening address by each speaker commencing with Wayne LaPierre. He asserted that civil rights and human rights were one and the same and spoke of the hypocrisy of certain elite political leaders, and of the “abundant blessing of freedom”.
The Rev. Wright talked of the “actual document” saying that it did not in any way infringe on any individual right to self defence. This was refuted by Wayne LaPierre who pointed out that the U.N. has consistently refused to acknowledge the whole idea of private firearms ownership and that the U.N. is “a club of Governments”. He pointed to the recent history of U.N. involvement in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Sudan, all examples of government sponsored terrorism. Citing the recent New Orleans hurricane disaster, Wayne revealed that there were approximately 2.5 million instances per year in which ordinary U.S. citizens use a firearm in defensive circumstances as the blue helmets of the U.N. are never around to protect them. He also reminded the audience that crime in the U.S. is at a 27 year low.
For an insight into the historical results of civilian disarmament in the 20th and 21st Centuries view "Innocents Betrayed" on:
The Rev. Wright is in favour of full firearms registration and ballistic fingerprinting saying that this would not in any way impact on Second Amendment rights, but then he would say that wouldn’t he!
(Britain now has it's own National Ballistics Intelligence Service. It goes by the acronym 'Nabis'. The NABIS database was launched across England and Wales on the 28th April 2008. It delivers for the first time, a national database of all recovered firearms and ballistic material coming into police possession.)
We hope to be able to bring you a more comprehensive account of The Great Gun Debate, and perhaps even a link at some future date. In the meantime view some footage of a simliar debate a few years ago, on the same topic, between Rebecca Peters of IANSA and Wayne LaPierre of the N.R.A. of America: Part one Part two Part three Part four
Viewers of this site might like to pay particular attention to the response given by Rebecca Peters to a question from the floor concerning the banning of target shooting with handguns in the U.K. This will be found in Part four of "The Great Gun Debate".
The Gun Control Network and the international agenda of IANSA
Who are the groups and individuals working to take your guns away from you and thus rob you of your freedom to possess and use firearms and your cultural identity?
The principal group in the U.K. is The Gun Control Network (all five members of it!). This is just one of the many international groups acting in concert with IANSA, that is the International Action Network on Small Arms. This is a UN. group and is headed by Rebecca Peters. Their aim is nothing less than total civilian disarmament on a global scale. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves! The United Nations Development Programme has even produced a written guide for the benefit of governments all over the world who wish to control, regulate, and end the civilian ownership of firearms. U.K. firearms owners might like to have a look at Chapter 3 of this guide. They will recognise much that is now the everyday norm for certificate holders in Britain. They will also see how it is proposed to craftily export these restrictions to the rest of the World through this and other initiatives such as the "Project Ploughshares" program funded by, amongst others, the Government of the U.K. The Gun Control Network is headed up by Gill Marshall Andrews, wife of the Labour MP Bob Marshall Andrews.
At the forefront of the international fight against the gun grabbers and anti-freedom campaigners is Wayne La Pierre , Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the N.R.A. of America. He is author of the book "Guns, Crime, and Freedom", which reveals why responsible Americans have the right to "keep and bear arms". Addressing every point of contention concerning the original intent of the 2nd Amendment, Wayne La Pierre illuminates the modern implications of the U.S. second Amendment and debunks the myth that gun ownership contributes to America's crime rate.
Gun Crime 60 per cent higher than official figures! Daily Telegraph article, October 2008.
Murder rate increasing amid epidemic of knife and gun crime!
Daily Telegraph article, 11th July 2008
The United States Supreme Court......
...............rules in favour of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States!
In an historic landmark ruling, D.C. -v- Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment, which gives the Right to Keep and bear arms, is NOT dependent on being a member of an organised militia such as the National Guard. Rather, it is an individual right held by the ordinary law abiding upright citizen. This is the view that the NRA of America, and many others, have been advocating for years. Read the ruling and associated commentaries and articles on www.nraila.org/heller/
Click D.C. -v- Heller to download and print off your own copy of this historic ruling. The ruling runs into 150 plus pages but the ruling proper extends from page 1 to 64. Pages 64 onwards give the dissenting judgment.
Also, view and listen to the interview with Dick Heller filmed at the Shot Show 2009 on:
tireless shooting campaigner being
honoured for his achievement in getting
pistol shooting re-established in
Ireland. Read his article
"The Truth and Nothing
but the Truth".
Once again the Irish show us how it's
done! Also by Frank -
"Tilting at Windmills" an
account of his long struggle through the
courts to reinstate pistol shooting and
ownership in Ireland.
To read the outcome of Frank's struggle to get a licence for his .375 rifle, and an account of his Safari trip to South Africa, read "Hunting in the Karoo".
Also read The Nearly Lion, Frank's account of what may be the only Lion hunt ever to take place in Ireland - yes Ireland!
From Left to Right: Joe Kelly, Frank Brophy and Marie Brophy
Chairman of National Shooting Association, Joe Kelly, (front row - red tie) seen here in the company of a number of Irish MP's on a visit to the Irish Parliament.