"When 14-year-olds can legally possess guns, it’s time to step in and prevent a tragedy."
Green Party Senator and MEP candidate Grace O’Sullivan has called the tragedy that unfolded in Christchurch last Friday "a wakeup call" to review Ireland's gun laws.
In the wake of the massacre in which 50 people were killed, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines will be banned in the country.
It is hoped that the new laws would be in place as soon as 11 April.
“There needs to be an urgent review of gun regulations here," O'Sullivan said today in a press release.
"When a fourteen-year-old can legally possess a gun, there’s something wrong. I’m asking my party colleagues in the Dáil to question the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan on whether he has plans to review firearms licensing regulations in light of the recent tragedy in New Zealand, particularly in relation to the current rules around children and guns."
As it stands, a 14-year-old can, with parental consent, obtain a ‘Training Certificate’ and use a gun for hunting and target practice in Ireland.
To use the weapon, they must be supervised by the over-eighteen-year-old gun owner in possession of the licence for the gun they are using. Psychiatric evaluations are not a part of the gun-owning process.
This, O'Sullivan believes is "too lax".
“I would like to see the Minister order an urgent examination of the fact that gun license applicants are currently not required to provide medical reports or undertake any psychiatric evaluation as part of the standard application process. They are only required to supply their doctor’s contact details which is, in my view, wholly inadequate.
“I would also ask the Minister to review the regulations which currently put no limit on the number of permissible firearms an individual can amass.”
Although Ireland is considered to be at the lower end of the scale when it comes to numbers of weapons held per head of population and permissive firearm legislation, Senator O’Sullivan believes that we cannot afford to be complacent.
“We can’t be complacent about this.
"Like the people of New Zealand (prior-to-last-Friday) we might think nothing like that could happen here. Ireland is generally a very safe place. Likewise New Zealand. Sadly, I was directly involved in a previous terrorist attack in New Zealand when I was a crew member of the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, when it was bombed in 1985.
"I lost my crewmate and friend, Fernando Pereira that day. So I’m not a bit complacent about this issue. A tightening of gun regulations could prevent a tragedy on our own shores.”