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A replica airsoft weapon. Shutterstock/Petr Klempa
replicas

Should airsoft guns like this be painted pink or orange to stop them being used for crime?

New proposals are seeking to tighten the rules surrounding replica weapons.

THE GOVERNMENT IS looking at tightening the laws around the possession, sale and importation and realistic imitation firearms.

Such laws would relate to the replica weapons used in sports such as airsoft but would exclude children’s toy guns.

It includes realistic imitation firearms that both fire shots or pellets and those which do not.

Gardaí have expressed concern that there are currently no laws surrounding the distribution of such replica weapons meaning that their proliferation and use in crime could increase.

Already it is seen as a problem with some imitation firearms being so indistinguishable from guns that they can be used to threaten people and commit crimes.

Since 2010, 123 cases have been reported in which realistic imitation firearms were used and there were 51 convictions resulting from these cases.

“Realistic imitation firearms pose a threat to public safety when misused,” Minister of State in the Department of Justice David Stanton said yesterday.

“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.”

The government has therefore initiated a public consultation to examine whether new laws need to be introduced and what form such laws would take.

A number of options have been suggested including the possibility of making no changes to the current laws.

Other options include establishing a registry of dealers and making it possible to remove people from the registry if they do not adhere to specific standards.

A legal age of 16 to purchase a realistic imitation firearm has also been suggested.

Other suggestions include that imitation weapons must be painted in a bright colour to differentiate them from real guns. This is the case in the UK.

In other European countries there are also specifications whereby such replica weapons are marked in other ways to show they are not real.

Read: Gardaí seize more guns and ammunition – this time in Dublin’s north inner city >

Read: Over €300k belonging to criminal gang discovered in woman’s home following search >

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