Pistol shooter challenges refusal of firearms cert


A COMPETITIVE pistol shooter has challenged a District Court judge’s refusal to grant him firearms certificates for six pistols on the grounds of their lethal nature.

Patrick Herlihy, with an address in Co Cork, has brought High Court proceedings aimed at quashing District Judge David Riordan’s refusal to grant certificates for six guns – two Sig Sauer 9mm pistols and four Smith Wesson revolvers.

Judge Riordan refused to grant licensing certificates on November 30th, 2009 following an earlier refusal by a Garda chief superintendent to grant certificates. Mr Herlihy has given the guns to a firearms dealer pending the outcome of the case.

Mr Herlihy claims the judge’s decision was wrong in law and he is entitled to hold the guns. He claims his inability to have them has affected his livelihood. The State has opposed the application.

Yesterday, the President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said the case was one of “some importance” and he would give judgment in due course.

Earlier, Gerard Hogan SC, for Mr Herlihy, said Judge Riordan’s decision failed to take into account factors including that his client is a model citizen and highly experienced in the sport of target shooting.

Mr Herlihy is a former member of the Irish Reserve Defence Forces and held a number of posts in the management and administration of target shooting events, including the position of general secretary of the European Gallery Rifle and Pistol Federation, counsel said. He had also acted as safety adviser and design consultant to a number of pistol and rifle clubs.

Judge Riordan’s refusal was because of the lethality of the guns in question but, as recent events in Cumbria had shown, any gun in the wrong hands can be lethal, Mr Hogan said. Counsel said the Oireachtas had clearly contemplated a system whereby certificates for restricted firearms would be granted to certain individuals. There was no strict prohibition on the holding of such guns.

Mr Herlihy had legally held the guns at issue until last year when he applied to Garda Chief Superintendent Michael Finn to have the certificates renewed. His renewal application addressed the issues raised following a change in the law relating to pistols but Chief Supt Finn refused the application, counsel said.

Opposing the application, Conor Dignam, for the State, denied that Judge Riordan had erred by refusing to issue the certificates on the basis of the calibre or the lethality of the firearms. Judge Riordan had taken all relevant factors into account before making his decision, counsel said.