Former head of ballistics with An Garda Síochána criticizes drive by senior management to make possession of sporting firearms illegal

William Brennan was an inspector at Garda Headquarters at Phoenix Park until his retirement 10 years ago.

He is now spokesman for the pistol club for gardaí, whose 95 members would also lose their favourite sport if new legislation is brought in to ban sports firearms.

Around half the membership are serving gardaí. Others are retired gardaí, retired police officers from other countries and former Defence Forces members.

The Department of Justice is currently reviewing the firearm licensing laws. Hundreds of the sportspersons submitted their views to a public consultation which ended last month.

“There is a view among some senior garda officers that this would essentially finish off our sport here in Ireland,” said Mr Brennan. “We have had superintendents across the state trying to revoke firearms licences and in every single case taken to court, those firearms licences have been given back.


“I am disturbed to hear some of my former colleagues constantly referring to our guns as weapons. Something only becomes a weapon when it is in the wrong hands and that applies as much to a golf club or a set of kitchen knives as it does to sports pistols.”

He said thousands of people who shoot at the 19 shooting ranges across the country are no different to people in other sports.

“We have massive security around our firearms, kept in alarmed safes and locked in special cases when being transported to ranges,” he said. “Our pistols are completely useless as personal protection weapons. The guns are broken up and put away and it would take 45 minutes to reassemble them.”

Mr Brennan was critical of the view that legally-held firearms pose a danger to the public. “That’s nonsensical and a bit of a joke really,” he said.

“An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice would be much better off focusing their attentions on eradicating the vast amount of illegal firearms from our country.

“I’ve yet to hear anyone ­describe any of the recent killings in our country as having been carried out by someone holding a legally-held machine gun.”

Gardaí would not comment ahead of the firearms review.