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Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990

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Number 12 of 1990


FIREARMS AND OFFENSIVE WEAPONS ACT, 1990


ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

PART I

Preliminary

Section

1.

Short title and commencement.

2.

Interpretation.

PART II

Amendments to Firearms Acts

3.

Collective citation and construction.

4.

Extension of Firearms Acts to crossbows and stun guns.

5.

Amendment of section 10 of Firearms Act, 1925.

6.

Authorisation to hold defective firearm without firearm certificate.

7.

Possession, sale, etc., of silencers.

8.

Reckless discharge of firearm.

PART III

Offensive Weapons

9.

Possession of knives and other articles.

10.

Trespassing with a knife, weapon of offence or other article.

11.

Production of article capable of inflicting serious injury.

12.

Power to prohibit manufacture, importation, sale, hire or loan of offensive weapons.

13.

Forfeiture of weapons and other articles.

14.

Power of arrest without warrant.

15.

Search warrants.

16.

Power of search without warrant.

17.

Extension of section 8 of Criminal Law Act, 1976.

18.

Repeal of portion of section 4 of Vagrancy Act, 1824.


Acts Referred to

Criminal Law Act, 1976

1976, No. 32

Firearms Act, 1925

1925, No. 17

Firearms Act, 1964

1964, No. 1

Firearms (Proofing) Act, 1968

1968, No. 20

Firearms Act, 1971

1971, No. 13

Prevention of Crimes Act, 1871

1871, c. 112

Vagrancy Act, 1824

1824, c. 83

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Number 12 of 1990


FIREARMS AND OFFENSIVE WEAPONS ACT, 1990


AN ACT TO AMEND AND EXTEND THE FIREARMS ACTS, 1925 TO 1971, TO CONTROL THE AVAILABILITY AND POSSESSION OF OFFENSIVE WEAPONS AND OTHER ARTICLES AND TO PROVIDE FOR CERTAIN OTHER MATTERS CONNECTED WITH THE MATTERS AFORESAID. [12th June, 1990]

BE IT ENACTED BY THE OIREACHTAS AS FOLLOWS:

PART I

Preliminary

Short title and commencement.

1.(1) This Act may be cited as the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990.

(2) This Act (other than Part II ) shall come into operation on the date of its passing.

(3) Part II of this Act shall come into operation on such day or days as may be fixed therefor by order or orders of the Minister either generally or with reference to any particular provision, and different days may be so fixed for different provisions of that Part.

Interpretation.

2.(1) In this Act “the Minister” means the Minister for Justice.

(2) In this Act a reference to a section is a reference to a section of this Act unless it is indicated that reference to some other enactment is intended and a reference to a subsection is a reference to the subsection of the section in which the reference occurs, unless it is indicated that reference to some other section is intended.

(3) A reference in this Act to any enactment shall be construed as a reference to that enactment as amended or adapted by or under any subsequent enactment.

PART II

Amendments to Firearms Acts

Collective citation and construction.

3.(1) The Firearms Acts, 1925 to 1971, and this Part may be cited together as the Firearms Acts, 1925 to 1990.

(2) The Firearms Acts, 1925 to 1971 (other than the Firearms (Proofing) Act, 1968) and this Part shall be construed together as one.

Extension of Firearms Acts to crossbows and stun guns.

4.(1) In the Firearms Acts, 1925 to 1990, “firearm” means—

(a) a lethal firearm or other lethal weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged;

(b) an air gun (which expression includes an air rifle and an air pistol) or any other weapon incorporating a barrel from which metal or other slugs can be discharged;

(c) a crossbow;

(d) any type of stun gun or other weapon for causing any shock or other disablement to a person by means of electricity or any other kind of energy emission;

(e) a prohibited weapon as defined in section 1 (1) of the Firearms Act, 1925 ;

(f) any article which would be a firearm under any of the foregoing paragraphs but for the fact that, owing to the lack of a necessary component part or parts, or to any other defect or condition, it is incapable of discharging a shot, bullet or other missile or of causing a shock or other disablement (as the case may be);

(g) save where the context otherwise requires, any component part of any article referred to in any of the foregoing paragraphs and, for the purposes of this definition, the following articles shall be deemed to be such component parts as aforesaid:

(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), and

(ii) a silencer designed to be fitted to a firearm specified in paragraph (a), (b) or (e).

(2) The following provisions are hereby repealed:

(a) the definition of “firearm” in section 1 (1) of the Firearms Act, 1925 , and in section 1 of the Firearms (Proofing) Act, 1968 , and

(b) section 2 of the Firearms Act, 1964 , and section 2 of the Firearms Act, 1971 .

Amendment of section 10 of Firearms Act, 1925 .

5.The Firearms Act, 1925 , is hereby amended by the insertion in section 10 after subsection (3) of the following subsection:

“(3A) (a) A person shall not sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of a firearm or ammunition for a firearm to a person who habitually resides, or to a body at an address, in a country that stands prescribed for the time being for the purposes of this section unless the superintendent of the Garda Síochána of the district in which the firearm or ammunition is kept, being satisfied that the transaction is authorised by the competent authorities of that country, also authorises it.

(b) This subsection is without prejudice to the other provisions of this section and to section 16 of this Act but subsection (4) of that section does not apply to a firearm or ammunition for a firearm carried by a person from the State for the purpose of transferring it permanently to such a country as aforesaid.

(c) In this subsection ‘firearm’ does not include a firearm specified in paragraph (c) or (d) (or in paragraph (f) or (g) so far as either of those paragraphs relates to the said paragraph (c) or (d)) of section 4 (1) of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990.”.

Authorisation to hold defective firearm without firearm certificate.

6.(1) The superintendent of the Garda Síochána of a district may grant an authorisation in writing to a person resident in the district, not being a person disentitled under the Firearms Acts, 1925 to 1990, to hold a firearm certificate, to have in his possession, without a firearm certificate, a firearm where he is satisfied that the firearm would not be a firearm but for section 4 (1) (f) and that the person has a good reason for wishing to keep it and may be permitted to do so without danger to the public safety or the peace.

(2) The superintendent of the district where the holder of an authorisation under this section resides may, at any time, attach to the authorisation any conditions, whether as regards safe custody or otherwise, which he considers necessary and may at any time revoke the authorisation.

Possession, sale, etc., of silencers.

7.(1) A person shall be guilty of an offence if he has in his possession or sells or transfers to another person a silencer unless the possession, sale or transfer is authorised in writing by the superintendent of the district in which the first-mentioned person resides.

(2) A superintendent shall not grant an authorisation under this section unless he is satisfied that the person who is to have possession of the silencer or to whom it is to be sold or transferred is the holder of a firearm certificate for a firearm to which the silencer can be fitted and that—

(a) having regard to all the circumstances, the possession, sale or transfer concerned will not endanger the public safety or the peace, and

(b) the person has a special need that is, in the opinion of the superintendent, sufficient to justify the granting of the authorisation for the silencer.

(3) The superintendent of the district where the holder of an authorisation under this section resides may, at any time, attach to the authorisation such conditions as he considers necessary for the purpose of preventing danger to the public or to the peace or of ensuring that the silencer is used only to satisfy the special need for which the authorisation was granted.

(4) An authorisation under this section may be granted for such period not exceeding one year as is specified in the authorisation and may be revoked by the superintendent of the district where its holder resides.

(5) A person who contravenes a condition attached to an authorisation under this section shall be guilty of an offence.

(6) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both, or

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.

(7) This section does not apply in relation to a person specified in paragraph (b), (c) or (d) of subsection (3) of section 2 of the Firearms Act, 1925 , or paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (4) (inserted by the Firearms Act, 1964) of that section.

(8) In this section—

silencer” means a silencer specified in section 4 (1) (g);

superintendent” means a superintendent of the Garda Síochána.

Reckless discharge of firearm.

8.A person who discharges a firearm being reckless as to whether any person will be injured or not, shall be guilty of an offence, whether any such injury is caused or not, and shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or to both, or

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.

PART III

Offensive Weapons

Possession of knives and other articles.

9.(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), where a person has with him in any public place any knife or any other article which has a blade or which is sharply pointed, he shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that he had good reason or lawful authority for having the article with him in a public place.

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2), it shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that he had the article with him for use at work or for a recreational purpose.

(4) Where a person, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse (the onus of proving which shall lie on him), has with him in any public place—

(a) any flick-knife, or

(b) any other article whatsoever made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person,

he shall be guilty of an offence.

(5) Where a person has with him in any public place any article intended by him unlawfully to cause injury to, incapacitate or intimidate any person either in a particular eventuality or otherwise, he shall be guilty of an offence.

(6) In a prosecution for an offence under subsection (5), it shall not be necessary for the prosecution to allege or prove that the intent to cause injury, incapacitate or intimidate was intent to cause injury to, incapacitate or intimidate a particular person; and if, having regard to all the circumstances (including the type of the article alleged to have been intended to cause injury, incapacitate or intimidate, the time of the day or night, and the place), the court (or the jury as the case may be) thinks it reasonable to do so, it may regard possession of the article as sufficient evidence of intent in the absence of any adequate explanation by the accused.

(7) (a) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or to both.

(b) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (4) or (5) shall be liable—

(i) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or to both, or

(ii) on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.

(8) In this section “public place” includes any highway and any other premises or place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise, and includes any club premises and any train, vessel or vehicle used for the carriage of persons for reward.

(9) In this section “flick-knife” means a knife—

(a) which has a blade which opens when hand pressure is applied to a button, spring, lever or other device in or attached to the handle, or

(b) which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force and when released is locked in an open position by means of a button, spring, lever or other device.

Trespassing with a knife, weapon of offence or other article.

10.(1) Where a person is on any premises as defined in subsection (2) as a trespasser, he shall be guilty of an offence if he has with him—

(a) any knife or other article to which section 9 (1) applies, or

(b) any weapon of offence (as defined in subsection (2)).

(2) In this section—

premises” means any building, any part of a building and any land ancillary to a building;

weapon of offence” means any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or to both, or

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.

Production of article capable of inflicting serious injury.

11.Where a person, while committing or appearing to be about to commit an offence, or in the course of a dispute or fight, produces in a manner likely unlawfully to intimidate another person any article capable of inflicting serious injury, he shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or to both, or

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.

Power to prohibit manufacture, importation, sale, hire or loan of offensive weapons.

12.(1) Any person who—

(a) manufactures, sells or hires, or offers or exposes for sale or hire, or by way of business repairs or modifies, or

(b) has in his possession for the purpose of sale or hire or for the purpose of repair or modification by way of business, or

(c) puts on display, or lends or gives to any other person,

a weapon to which this section applies shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) Where an offence under subsection (1) is committed by a body corporate and is proved to have been so committed with the consent or connivance of or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of a director, manager, secretary or other officer of the body corporate, the director, manager, secretary or other officer or any person purporting to act in such capacity shall also be guilty of an offence.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months or to both, or

(b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.

(4) The Minister may by order direct that this section shall apply to any description of weapon specified in the order except any firearm subject to the Firearms Acts, 1925 to 1990.

(5) The Minister may by order amend or revoke an order made under this section.

(6) The importation of a weapon to which this section applies is hereby prohibited.

(7) Every order made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the order is laid before it, the order shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.

Forfeiture of weapons and other articles.

13.(1) Where a person is convicted of an offence under this Part, the court by or before which he is convicted may order any article in respect of which the offence was committed to be forfeited and either destroyed or otherwise disposed of in such manner as the court may determine.

(2) An order under this section shall not take effect until the ordinary time for instituting an appeal against the conviction or order concerned has expired or, where such an appeal is instituted, until it or any further appeal is finally decided or abandoned or the ordinary time for instituting any further appeal has expired.

Power of arrest without warrant.

14.A member of the Garda Síochána may arrest without warrant any person who is, or whom the member, with reasonable cause, suspects to be, in the act of committing an offence under section 9 , 10 or 11 .

Search warrants.

15.If a justice of the District Court or a Peace Commissioner is satisfied on the sworn information of a member of the Garda Síochána that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence under section 12 has been or is being committed on any premises, he may issue a warrant under his hand authorising a specified member of the Garda Síochána, accompanied by such other members of the Garda Síochána as the member thinks necessary, at any time or times within one month from the date of the issue of the warrant, on production if so requested of the warrant, to enter, if need be by force, and search the premises specified in the warrant and to seize anything found there that he believes on reasonable grounds may be required to be used in evidence in any proceedings for an offence under section 12 or an offence under the Customs Acts in relation to the importation into the State of a weapon to which section 12 applies.

Power of search without warrant.

16.(1) This section applies to a situation where a number of people are congregated in any public place (within the meaning of section 9 (8)) and a breach of the peace is occurring, or a member of the Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds for believing that a breach of the peace has occurred, or may occur, in that place when the people were or are congregated there.

(2) If in a situation to which this section applies a member of the Garda Síochána suspects with reasonable cause that a person has with him any article in contravention of section 9 , he may search him in order to ascertain whether this is the case.

(3) If in a situation to which this section applies a member of the Garda Síochána suspects with reasonable cause that some one or more of the people present has or have with him or them an article or articles in contravention of section 9 , then, even if the member has no reason to suspect that any particular one of the people present has with him any such article, the member may search any of those people if he considers that a search is necessary in order to ascertain whether any of them has with him any such article or articles.

Extension of section 8 of Criminal Law Act, 1976 .

17. Section 8 of the Criminal Law Act, 1976 , is hereby amended by the insertion in subsection (1) after paragraph (i) of the following paragraph:

“(j) an offence under section 12 (1) of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990.”.

Repeal of portion of section 4 of Vagrancy Act, 1824.

18.Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act, 1824 (as extended to Ireland by section 15 of the Prevention of Crimes Act, 1871), is hereby amended by the deletion of “or being armed with any gun, pistol, hanger, cutlass, bludgeon, or other offensive weapon,” and “and every such gun, pistol, hanger, cutlass, bludgeon, or other offensive weapon,”.