Handguns in Northern Ireland (UK)--Legal, but may be on shaky ground?


January 18, 2006, 12:01 AM
Tonight I learned something new about the UK's firearm laws, as relating to Northern Ireland, but before we get the warm fuzzies about the gun laws in this region, read this:


Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Fourth Report



The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has agreed to the following Report:



As in other parts of the United Kingdom there are in Northern Ireland substantial numbers of individuals who hold and use firearms entirely safely and legitimately for leisure and business purposes. Their possession and use of firearms is governed by the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 1981. In July 2002, the Government laid before Parliament a proposal for a draft Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order which would in due course replace the 1981 Order. This has been the focus of our inquiry.

While there are a wide range of firearms covered by the legislation there are inevitably some which cause greater public concern than others. Handguns are not banned in Northern Ireland, although they were banned in Great Britain following the shootings at Dunblane in 1996. Between 11,000 and 12,000 handguns are held by individuals in Northern Ireland for personal protection. Although we believe that gun laws in Great Britain and Northern Ireland should be consistent, we believe that the time is not right for a hand gun ban in Northern Ireland.

Other questions similarly give cause for continuing debate. The current firearms regimes in Great Britain and Northern Ireland are complex and vary from each other in certain key aspects. As a general principle, we advocate the view that regulation throughout the United Kingdom should be consistent, wherever possible. With that in mind, we have recommended that a single regime should govern young people's access to firearms throughout the United Kingdom, and that a single regime should continue to govern access to imitation and replica firearms. We have also requested that the Government establish a Firearms Consultative Committee for Northern Ireland as an advisory body similar in character to the Firearms Consultative Committee for Great Britain. We believe that such a body would have an important role to play in determining areas of common ground and best practice in firearms regulation.

A new proposal is that the competence of an individual should be tested before his application for a firearm certificate is approved. Although we agree with the principle of testing competence, the full practical implications of the proposal have yet to be worked through. It will require considerable further work before it is ready for implementation.


So it's obvious NI has an impending handgun ban hanging over their head!

(Edited to include proper link this time. :0)

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January 18, 2006, 08:57 AM

Maybe I'm the only one on the board who didn't know this, but I thought this thread would get some sort of reaction. It should be interesting to some of us, at least.

(Don't worry, I'm not offended 'cause I know that much better threads than mine simply get overlooked.)

January 18, 2006, 09:10 AM
It is a good thread. It just does not surprise anyone here.

January 18, 2006, 09:18 AM
The irish havent obeyed the firearms laws yet, so I'm not too worried.

January 18, 2006, 06:13 PM
Actually IIRC, some of the guys in the UK have posted that in N.Ireland & Isle of Man you can still have firearms.


January 19, 2006, 09:02 AM
Yes, in all fairness the firearms trade is pretty brisk in the UK, from what I've seen. But the only things legal for trade in Great Britain (England, Wales, Cornwall, Scotland, etc.) are long guns--except for semi-autos. As an example, Rossi lever actions seem to be going for just over $500 US, so there must be some demand for them. Handloaders are going strong too. It's only in Northern Ireland that handguns are not subject to the ban that exists on the "big island" but it looks like there may be some attempt to close that loophole.

Someone who knows, please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Sorry for my cynicism, but---well, I'm a cynic. :D

January 19, 2006, 12:15 PM
Probably a coincidence, but this comes just after they verify that the NRA has turned in all it's weapons? Most classical philosophers would suggest that force is the first and foremost guarantee of freedom. If you are weak you must rely on goodwill for your survival.

January 19, 2006, 12:27 PM
They are under much the same laws as the rest of England and Wales, the difference is that over there, where someone can demonstrate that there is a likelyhood of harm they get what is called a section 5 licence (usually because of their job, or because they have appeared on a list seized from one of the terrorist groups, but also because of more "normal" criminal threats). Obviously because of the unique and mad nature of life over there more than a few people have them. There are some licences held over here as well, largely for the same reasons.

Section Five basically lumps together all the weapons that have been "banned" over the years - full autos, pump action shotguns, handguns etc - and forbids possession except with a licence granted by the Secretary of State. I have made this point before, but the wording of this legislation is such that with no further input from Parliament and no change in the law the UK could get a shall-issue system overnight. The only thing that prevents it is the attitude of the current Home Secretary.

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