Shooters all over the country are faced with astronomical license fee hikes in the soon to be published Finance Act 2007. The NTSA has issued a press release on the subject:
OLYMPIC SHOOTERS RIPPED OFF BY DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Dublin, April 6 -- The National Target Shooting Association today added its voice to the ranks of those in the target shooting sports who are angrily protesting the 50% hike in their licence fees which the Minister for Justice intends to introduce next year despite massive reductions in the cost of administering the licencing system.
At present, every year on August 1, Gardai all over the country must invest huge amounts of man-hours into processing applications for every legally held firearm in the country; over 250,000 at the present time. This time is utterly wasted. It does not make us safe. It does not reduce gun crime. It merely takes Gardai off the streets where the NTSA firmly believes they are required to combat Ireland's rising gun crime problems.
The new firearms certificates, introduced in the Firearms Act 2006, will now last for three years instead of one. The NTSA originally proposed the introduction of a five-year licence listing all firearms held by the licenced person, bringing Ireland into line with Great Britain and Northern Ireland in a bid to reduce paperwork and administrative costs.
The NTSA's proposed five-year licence would have meant that renewals would be reduced from 250,000 annually to approximately half that every five years, freeing up to 90% of those Gardai man-hours to be used to prevent gun crime instead of spending them on firearms licence paperwork.
The new three-year licences still licence the firearm instead of the owner; and without any form of study, dialogue, or notice, the price tag for the licences was increased this month from €38 to €170; an increase of 50% over the original per-annum fee.
This represents an enormous burden for target shooters. An individual who takes part in two or three olympic disciplines will be faced with a bill in excess of €500 every three years. A Junior shooter, starting off in the sport on one of the Minister's new training licences, faces a cost of €340 in licence fees alone. Not only must they get a licence, so must one of their parents as training licences do not permit juniors to own the firearm they train with. In addition to this, the clubs who support and train these athletes will also be faced with a bill of €1000 every five years in order to remain 'authorised'; a process that has yet to be defined by the government.
Ironically, these exorbitant fees were foisted onto olympic athletes in the same week as the Minister for Sport launched the Irish Sports Council and ESRI's "Fair Play? Sport and Social Disadvantage in Ireland" report, which showed that sport is becoming a pastime of the wealthy in Ireland.
Further, the fees for visiting target shooters have been raised to €57; the effect this will have on tourism as Olympic shooting teams choose another location other than the Republic for training camps for 2012 will be significant, and will cost us far more than €57.
The NTSA has striven to work with the Minister for Justice and support the new Firearms Act 2006; but cannot in conscience recommend these new fee structures to its members in light of the lack of consultation and the negative impact they will have on the sport.
The NTSA calls on the Minister for Justice to reduce his exorbitant fees to a more reasonable level and cites the fees paid in Northern Ireland, where a five-year licence costs only €77 - over 70% less than the equivalent cost per year in the Republic.
The NTSA further calls on the Minister for Justice to introduce a licensing system on the more sensible basis of 'one person, one license'. The current system is analogous to requiring an individual to carry a separate driving license for each car they may drive.
The NTSA, founded in 1994, is the National Governing Body for Olympic rifle and pistol target shooting in Ireland.