320. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to amend legislation to allow for persons to hold pepper spray or an electroshock weapon in their own homes for the purposes of self defence in view of recent reports that members of An Garda Síochána have used pepper spray more than 500 times in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9442/18]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Pepper sprays and electroshock weapons are considered to be prohibited weapons under the Firearms Act 1925, as amended. A prohibited weapon is defined as a firearm under the same Act, and accordingly the restrictions that apply to firearms in the Firearms Acts apply to pepper sprays and electroshock weapons.  I have no plans to amend these provisions. 
In considering whether or not to grant licences for the possession, use or carriage of firearms, An Garda Síochána take into account a number of factors provided for in the relevant legislation. In this context, in September 2009, the Garda Commissioner issued revised guidelines in relation to the operation of the firearms legislation which are designed to be of benefit to both members of the Gardaí and members of the public.  
These guidelines state that:  “The protection of life and property is a function of the Garda Síochána and civilians are only entitled to use reasonable force to protect  themselves and their property.  The combined effect of this means that there is no justification for seeking to possess a firearm for purposes of personal protection or protection of property.  When assessing an application for a firearm certificate, a superintendent or chief superintendent should not take into account as part of a ‘Good Reason’ a reference to personal protection."