Fianna Fáil MEP for Dublin Barry Andrews has expressed his deep concern over the ease of access to imitation firearms in Dublin. MEP Andrews has raised his concern following the shocking gun and knife attacks at a restaurant in Blanchardstown on Christmas Eve, which has left two men dead.
MEP Andrews said: “The attack on Christmas Eve not only shocked the people of Blanchardstown and Dublin, but also the whole country. All gun crime is unacceptable however to read the reports about the high velocity weapon that was used in this particular attack is astounding. “I have no doubt that youths are now equipping themselves with imitation firearms that are very easily purchased from any number of shops in and around the city. While officially known as airsoft guns that are not technically illegal, they are effectively an imitation gun. I have seen them myself on display and, to the untrained eye; there is very little difference between an airsoft gun and a genuine firearm.”
In ongoing operations conducted over the past 12 months, such as Operation Tara and Operation Citizen, Gardaí have seized a number of imitation firearms. As recently as last month, a man appeared in court following the seizure of two imitation firearms at his house in Dublin.
The relevant legislation governing the possession of realistic imitation firearms in public places is outlined in the Act of 1990, which has been amended to include Section 9A. This section stipulates that anyone found in possession of a realistic imitation firearm in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse can be charged with an offense. Those found guilty of this offense can face substantial fines or imprisonment, depending on the severity of the case.
MEP Andrews stated: “Incidents involving imitation firearms in Dublin are deeply troubling and have significant implications for public safety. We must recognise that the possession and use of these imitation firearms can result in grave consequences and pose a risk to the well-being of our communities.”
He further emphasised the importance of strict enforcement of existing legislation, particularly Section 9A of the Act of 1990, which aims to regulate and restrict the possession of realistic imitation firearms in public places.
“I strongly urge the authorities and law enforcement agencies to be vigilant in enforcing these regulations, and I encourage the public to support these efforts by reporting any suspicious activities involving imitation firearms,” concluded Andrews.