310. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she has considered a firearms amnesty in relation to various persons who have unlicensed guns, to give them the opportunity to hand the guns over and thereby reduce the number of weapons in circulation, given crime levels; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41190/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can advise the Deputy that An Garda Síochána tackles the issue of illegal firearms on a daily basis at both local and national levels through a range of targeted and intelligence based operations, often disrupting and preventing incidents, as well as detecting and prosecuting those involved.
Heavy penalties are provided for weapons offences in our criminal law and mandatory minimum penalties have been introduced for certain firearms offences. The considerable powers already available to Gardaí are now supplemented further by the DNA Database system which went live last week and which has the capacity to link suspects to unsolved crimes using forensic evidence, and will greatly assist Gardaí in investigating a whole range of serious offences.
I am not convinced at this stage that some form of firearms amnesty would make a useful contribution to the reduction of gun crime. There was such an arrangement for a two month period in late 2006 but that was in the context of new licensing arrangements being introduced and represented an opportunity for people to regularise their situation before the heavier penalties provided for in the legislation came into force. It is doubtful that such an amnesty would result in hardened criminals handing up weapons. Equally, I am not convinced it is desirable to allow people who hold firearms illegally to evade the legal consequences for that. Nevertheless, I will keep this matter under review.