I presume most of us have held one, if not shot a gun at some stage.
In fact, although it may not be broadcast too much, but the use of firearms is widespread in rural areas across the country.
I have no doubt in my mind that on one occasion or another, we have been brought out on a hunting escapade with a parent, with badgers and foxes the prime targets. Or even just firing a few shots at crows attacking the summers silage.
But is the use of guns properly regulated in the country?
Recently a story was published by the Northern echo, of a 13 year old boy who killed seven cattle on a farm in Durham, with a calf also needing to be put down.
This is not the only recent gun related story to hit the headlines, with an Irish farmer from County Limerick being charged for shooting a neighbouring farmer over the right of way on a dirt path.
This made me wonder, is enough really being done to regulate gun ownership? Are we as farmers doing enough to show the younger generations the proper and improper ways to use a gun? And are we encouraging our young population to pick up guns and enjoy their use as a hobby?
From my own experiences, I know for a fact me and my friends around me were never advised on the Ten commandments of Firearm safety.
It makes me think this might just be the case throughout the country.
In 2016, according to figures published by the central statistics office, there were a total of 2,123 offences recorded related to weapons offences.
This represents an increase of 254 offences from 2015, and seems to suggest the problem is only going to get worse.
Currently by law a gun owner is required to renew their certificate every three years, with Ireland being an active supporter if the United Nations process to reduce gun injury. A proof of identification, age, proof of competence, proof of secure storage and ammunition are required. Two referees are also required to back up a character reference. As is a written letter of permission from a doctor or psychiatrist, yet this still doesn’t restrict a child’s access when their parents have one at home.
That being said, we all know at least one person in our lives with a gun and no licence.
That’s the least of our worries though, the biggest worry is how accessible guns are to the younger generation. As the saying goes, “monkey see what monkey do”, therefore if we are constantly using guns why wouldn’t they be encouraged to pick one up.
Last year a study was carried out, and showed that Ireland had a higher homicide rate through gun use than the UK. In fact, Ireland had a rate six times higher than that of the UK, and more than double that of Northern Ireland.
I am not suggesting that stricter regulations be placed on gun owners, I am merely suggesting that some kind of educational system be put into place for young Irish Farmers offering them advice on how to use a gun safely.
Recently updated changes to night-time shooting have been proposed, in an effort to combat thefts from farms. Still I would like to think more could be done, for the children, somebody please think of the children!!
The 10 commandments
See ten commandments of gun safety below:
1)Keep muzzle pointed in safe direction.
2) Firearms should be unloaded when in use.
3) Never, ever rely on a gun’s safety.
4) Be sure of target and what’s behind the target before shooting.
5) Use proper ammunition.
6) If guns fails to fire, handle with extreme caution.
7) Eye and ear protection is a must!
8) Make sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.
9) Don’t alter/modify any gun and make sure to service them regularly.
10)Always make sure to learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of any firearm in your possession. Fail to Prepare, prepare to fail.
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