Ireland Gives Public Two Months to Hand in Illegal Guns Without Penalty

Owners of illegally owned firearms will be given two months to hand over the weapons without penalty before a new, tougher law comes into force, the government announced Thursday.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell included the amnesty for illegally owned guns in its new criminal justice bill, which makes some firearms-ownership offenses punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

The amnesty will permit people to hand over unlicensed firearms, as well as a wide range of other lethal weapons including hunting knives and crossbows, throughout September and October. The bill creating new offenses with tougher sentences would become law in November.

The government declined to say whether any surrendered guns would be subject to forensic tests to determine whether they had been used in specific crimes. More than 20 people have been fatally shot in the Republic of Ireland this year, most of them in Dublin criminal feuds.

CountryWatch: Ireland