A recent Circular Direction addressed to each Garda Superintendent has been brought to our attention and is reproduced below in its entirety.
[To] Each Superintendent
In respect of the above matter an issue has arisen surrounding the licencing/authorisation of telescopic sights as defined by Section 1 (g)(i) of the Firearms Act 1925 as amended which are designed to be fitted to a firearm, usually while hunting at night time. This follows a recent instruction to all Registered Firearms Dealers by the Department of Justice advising them that these items require an importation licence issued by the Department prior to import and additionally, these items cannot be lawfully sold to a person unless that person is in possession of a Restricted Firearm Certificate granted by a Divisional Chief Superintendent of An Garda Síochána.
These items are included in the definition of a component part of a firearm in the 1925 Firearms Act as amended, as follows:
Section 1 (g) except where the context otherwise requires, any component part of any article referred to in any of the foregoing paragraphs and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the following articles shall be deemed to be such component parts:
(i); telescope sights with a light beam, or telescope sights with an
electronic light amplification device or an infra-red device, designed to be fitted to
a firearm specified in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (e),
Following legislative change in 2009, and to ease the financial burden on licensed firearms owners, a decision was taken at the time by the Project Board not to charge an additional €80 for each component part (e.g. silencer/telescopic sight etc) licensed for 3 years in addition to each €80 Firearm Certificate.
In the subsequent years, the prohibitive cost of purchasing a telescopic sight as described at Section 1 (g) (i) of the Act resulted in a relatively small number firearm owners seeking authorisations for these components.
It has recently come to the attention of the Department of Justice that a significant number of these night vision/telescopic sights have been imported into the State by Registered Firearms Dealers without an importation licence being in place and it seems likely that many licensed firearm owners are now in possession of these items without having the necessary permissions in place from An Garda Síochána.
To compound matters, the Department has advised that Statutory Instrument 21/08, as amended, provides that telescope sights as defined by Section 1(g)(i) of the Act are in fact Restricted Firearms and therefore require a separate firearm certificate granted by a member of Chief Superintendent rank, as members of Chief Superintendent rank do not have the authority to authorise a firearm under the Firearms Act. Only members of Superintendent rank are lawfully permitted to grant authorisations under the Act, but it now seems the case that hundreds of authorisations for these telescopic sights/beams granted to otherwise law abiding licensed firearm holders have been granted by Garda Superintendents, who may have inadvertently acted ultra vires to the Act.
This Section has discussed the matter with the Department of Justice. The Department have issued clear instructions to RFDs not to import or sell these items without the necessary documentation in place. It is noted that the vast majority of licensed firearm owners may be in possession of these items without the required restricted firearm certificate in place and will have done so in good faith.
In the interim the following measure will apply;
The authorisation of component parts by Garda Superintendents in respect of telescope sights with a light beam, or telescope sights with an electronic light amplification device or an infra-red device, should cease pending the outcome of discussions with the Department. [T]he authorisation of silencers etc. can continue by Garda Superintendents, as silencers/moderators are not defined as restricted firearms under the Act.
The Firearms Policy Unit have sought an urgent meeting with all concerned stakeholders in respect of this matter to find an amendable solution to regularise the possession, use and carriage of these items by law abiding firearm owners.
Please bring this instruction to the attention of Issuing Officers, Firearms Officers and Firearms Administration staff within your remit.
Forwarded for your attention, please.
[Signed] Gráinne Callanan
Crime Legal/Block B, Ashtown Gate, Navan Road, Dublin 15, D15 NP9Y/ 085-8823355 firstname.lastname@example.org
This communique to Superintendents was preceded on or about 28th December 2022 by a separate direction to all Registered Firearms Dealers, reproduced below in its entirety:
28 December 2022
COMMUNIQUE re Night Vision and Thermal Imaging Equipment
To all RFDs
The Department of Justice has recently noticed a significant increase in advertising of night vision and thermal imaging equipment on Firearms Dealer’s social media sites. The Department wishes to remind all Dealers that these items are considered to be firearms in accordance with the definition of a firearm contained in the Firearms Act 1925-2009. The relevant section [S.1(g)(i)] of the Act states:
(i) telescope sights with a light beam, or telescope sights with an electronic
light amplification device or an infra-red device, designed to be fitted to
a firearm specified in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (e),
The Department has audited the applications for import of these items and found a discrepancy between the numbers applied for and licensed for import and the apparent numbers being offered for sale.
The Department wishes to emphasise that the import of these items without appropriate documentation issued by the Department of Justice is an offence.
The Department would also draw your attention to the fact that the sale of these items must only be transacted upon production of appropriate documentation by the purchaser which has been issued by a Garda licensing officer in accordance with the Firearms Act-failure to comply with this is also an offence.
The Department would like to advise any Dealer who is in possession of these items without appropriate documentation to remove them from their premises without delay. The Department would also request that Dealers who have sold these items to end users should advise them of this communication and encourage them to regularise their possession with the licensing authorities without delay.
If you have any questions in relation to the above, please do not hesitate to contact this office at 01- 8592288 and/or email@example.com.
Best wishes for the New Year.
Airm Thine agus Pléascaigh, agus Scéimeanna Cúitimh Ceartais Choiriúil
Firearms and Explosives, and Criminal Justice Compensation Schemes
Seachadadh Seirbhísi Ceartas
Justice Service Delivery
An Roinn Dlí agus Cirt
Department of Justice
Urlár 3, 7 Plás Íle, Baile Átha Cliath 2, D02 HK52
Floor 3, 7 Ely Place, Dublin 2, D02 HK52
T +353 (0) 1 859 2288 PIG Inmheánach / Internal VOIP 488 661
E firstname.lastname@example.org W www.justice.ie twitter.com/DeptJusticeIRL
The subject of Night Vision Aides, Thermal Imaging Devices and Deer has been covered before on the News & Updates section of this website (May 29th 2020), to view click HERE.
This latest direction to Superintendents of the Garda Siochana on the licensing and use of such accessories lacks clarity and appears to be in conflict with prevailing legislation. A commentary has been delivered to the Garda Siochana and we look forward to their response.