Gun ownership laws questioned after latest fatal shooting

Gun ownership laws questioned after latest fatal shooting

A Garda watches as Fire Brigade vehicles depart the scene at Lixnaw

Gun ownership in Ireland must be re-examined before fatal crime involving firearms becomes a pattern.

That is according to victim's rights organisation AdVic, and Cork South-West TD and anti-domestic violence campaigner, Holly Cairns, who both said estimates around the potential number of guns in Ireland was a real worry.

They were speaking in light of the latest familial tragedy in Lixnaw, Co Kerry, where Eileen O’Sullivan and son Jamie were apparently shot dead by partner and father Mossie O’Sullivan, who then took his own life.

According to global firearms analysis website GunPolicy.org, which is hosted by the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, there were 233,000 firearm certificates issued in Ireland up to July 2008.

GunPolicy.org, which examines 200,000 global news archives, data sets, and comparative charts, cited research from America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2009, as well as data from armed violence research group, Small Arms Survey of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

In relation to the 2009 figures, GunPolicy.org said: "It has been estimated that as many as 150,000 unregistered firearms might also be in private possession in Ireland, suggesting a total civilian stockpile of 393,000. If true, this would yield a rate of 9.1 private firearms per 100 population, both legal and illegal."

Small Arms Survey, in its Civilian Firearms Holdings 2017, research suggested the estimated total number of guns, both licit and illicit, held by civilians in Ireland is 342,000. GunPolicy.org, citing European Commission research, estimated 6% of adults in Irish households lived with a gun in 2015.

Questions must be asked about gun ownership

AdVic was founded by Joan Deane whose son Russell was slain in 2003. 
AdVic was founded by Joan Deane whose son Russell was slain in 2003. 

Ms Cairns said questions about access to firearms in Ireland, and their connection to familial violence, must be raised.

"If figures around gun ownership in Ireland are correct, it seems an extraordinarily high number," she said. 

The more we hear about these types of situations around the country, we absolutely must examine it. These are lethal weapons, and all it takes is a small number of firearms to end up in the wrong hands for tragedy to occur. The bar must be very high to own a gun. 

AdVic, the advocacy group for families of victims of homicide, said the figures were shocking.

Spokesperson and founder, Joan Deane, whose son Russell was killed in 2003, said: "The news from Kerry is shocking and is a real cause for concern, as it appears that a series of incidents involving firearms is potentially becoming a pattern. 

For it to happen once is already too much, so this latest tragedy highlights the obvious need to tighten firearm regulations to ensure that we do not see this happen again. 

"The potential amount of private firearms in the country is simply shocking and needs to be addressed in order to prevent another senseless loss of life, particularly when you consider the multiple victims involved.”

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