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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C

Were 1,700 guns really stolen in five years?

It depends on what you define a gun as, really.

LAST MONTH, REPORTS circulated that over 1,700 guns had been stolen since 2010.

The reports noted that among the items stolen were 852 shotguns and other legally-held firearms.

However, they did not include details of what a firearm is in Ireland or what the rest of the breakdown contains.

Included in the statistics are air rifles, toy guns and safes.

Here is the full list:

  • Cartridges /Rounds of Ammo. 266
  • Shotgun (Single Barrel) 242
  • Shotgun Total 852
  • Rifle (Bolt Action) 178
  • Imitation Gun 62
  • Shotgun 60
  • Air Rifle 45
  • Shotgun (Semi Automatic) 45
  • Air Pistol 44
  • Rifle (Pump Action) 43
  • Rifle 37
  • Replica (Blank Firing) 30
  • Gun safe 29
  • Shotgun (Side By Side) 27
  • Shotgun (Pump Action) 25
  • Replica (Non Firing) 24
  • Telescopic Sight 18
  • Pistol 12
  • Toy Gun 12
  • Gas Gun 9
  • Rifle (Lever Action) 8
  • Humane Killer 7
  • Paintball Gun 4
  • Prohibited Weapon 4
  • Starting Pistol 4
  • Unknown 4
  • Musket 3
  • Revolver 3
  • Cross Bow 2
  • Flare Pistol 2
  • Shotgun (Bolt Action) 2
  • Stun Gun 2
  • Grenade 1
  • Rifles 5

Gardaí say that toy guns and imitations are included if they have been used in the committal of a crime and that any component of a gun, including scopes and safes, are counted.

There is a scientific method employed in this process and this is presented as evidence in court by an expert and is accepted by the court. This process involves establishing if the force of a projectile could in reality take life.In the case of an imitation firearm used in a robbery for example, this is deemed a firearm due to the threatening manner in which it is used in a particular incident. If the imitation firearm is subsequently seized it is deemed a firearm as subject to the Firearm Act.


But the gun community in Ireland feels that these statistics are being used to strengthen controls on sporting firearms, especially as the gardaí have not said how many of the stolen guns have been used in crimes.

A delegation representing gun owners spoke at the Oireachtas Justice Committee in January, with all saying that the Irish gun community is safe. Senior gardaí have recommended to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald that licencing be tightened and a number of guns be banned completely.

Kealan Symes of the National Target Shooting Association told the committee:

“This issue of public safety is addressed in the Firearms Acts many times. The current licensing system has many failings, but ease of access to firearms is not one of them.”

He was echoed by Damien Hannigan, secretary of the Wild Deer Association of Ireland who said that guns in Ireland have not been linked to criminality.

“There is no evidence of a link between legally held firearms and criminal activity.”

Read: Who should be allowed to own a gun in Ireland? It’s under discussion

Read: Gun control review sparks calls for compensation schemes

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