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Northern Ireland — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law

For combined British figures and legislation, see 'United Kingdom'

StockpilesGun Numbers

Civilian Guns

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

The estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in Northern Ireland is 380,0001

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in Northern Ireland is 21.91 firearms per 100 people

Number of Privately Owned Rifles

In Northern Ireland, the number of rifles in civilian possession is reported to be 18,2502

Number of Privately Owned Shotguns

In Northern Ireland, the number of shotguns in civilian possession is reported to be 80,2582

Number of Privately Owned Handguns

There are reportedly 13,9352 handguns in civilian possession in Northern Ireland

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Northern Ireland ranked at No. 943

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Northern Ireland ranked at No. 251

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

The number of licensed gun owners in Northern Ireland is reported to be 61,5654 5

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

The rate of licensed firearm owners per 100 people in Northern Ireland is 3.416

Number of Registered Firearms

The number of registered guns in Northern Ireland is reported to be 141,3937 5

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

The rate of registered guns per 100 people in Northern Ireland is 7.836

Government Guns

Routine Arming of Police

In Northern Ireland, police officers on routine patrol carry one or more firearms8 9 10

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Northern Ireland are reported to have 7,01811 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual deaths resulting from firearms total

2011: 912
2010: 1513
2009: 1314
2008: 3015
2007: 1916
2006: 2017
2005: 2318
2004: 2419
2003: 1920
2002: 1821
2001: 1022
2000: 5223
1999: 2824
1998: 2925
1997: 3326
1996: 5227
1995: 11828

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of all gun deaths per 100,000 population is

2011: 0.506
2010: 0.83
2009: 0.72
2008: 1.69
2007: 1.08
2006: 1.15
2005: 1.33
2004: 1.40
2003: 1.11
2002: 1.06
2001: 0.59
2000: 3.08
1999: 1.66
1998: 1.73
1997: 1.97
1996: 3.11
1995: 7.10

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual homicides by any means total

2011/12: 2329 30
2010/11: 28
2009/10: 22
2008/09: 26
2007/08: 30
2006/07: 24
2005/06: 29
2004/05: 41
2003/04: 33
2002/03: 45
2001/02: 52
2000/01: 48
1999/00: 3429 31 30
1998/99: 75
1997: 4931 30
1996: 39
1995: 24

Rate of Homicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of homicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2011: 1.276 30
2010: 1.55
2009: 1.23
2008: 1.46
2007: 1.70
2006: 1.38
2005: 1.68
2004: 2.39
2003: 1.94
2002: 2.65
2001: 3.08
2000: 2.84
1999: 2.02
1998: 4.47
1997: 2.92
1996: 2.33
1995: 1.44
1994: 6.0932

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual firearm homicides total

2011: 412
2010: 213
2009: 514 30
2008: 1215 30
2007: 816 30
2006: 817 30
2005: 1118 30
2004: 1219 30
2003: 920 30
2002: 321 33
2001: 222
2000: 3823
1999: 1524
1998: 1525
1997: 1226
1996: 3327
1995: 9428

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of firearm homicide per 100,000 population is

2011: 0.2212
2010: 0.1113
2009: 0.2814 30
2008: 0.6715 30
2007: 0.4516 30
2006: 0.4617 30
2005: 0.6418 30
2004: 0.7019 30
2003: 0.5320 30
2002: 0.1821 33
2001: 0.1222
2000: 2.2523
1999: 0.8924
1998: 0.8925
1997: 0.7226
1996: 1.9727
1995: 5.6628
1994: 5.2434

Handgun Homicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual handgun homicides total

2008: 315
2007: 216
2006: 217
2005: 318
2004: 219
2003: 320
2001: 122

Rate of Handgun Homicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of handgun homicide per 100,000 population is

2008: 0.1715
2007: 0.1116
2006: 0.1117
2005: 0.1718
2004: 0.1219
2003: 0.1820
2001: 0.0622

Long Gun Homicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual long gun homicides total

2009: 214
2008: 115
2007: 116
2006: 117
2005: 218
2004: 319
2001: 122

Rate of Long Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of long gun homicide per 100,000 population is

2009: 0.1114
2008: 0.0615
2007: 0.0616
2006: 0.0617
2005: 0.1218
2004: 0.1819
2001: 0.0622

Gun Homicides (Other)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual gun homicides (other) total

2011: 412
2010: 213
2009: 314
2008: 815
2007: 516
2006: 517
2005: 618
2004: 719
2003: 620
2002: 321

Rate of Gun Homicide (Other) per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of gun homicide (other) per 100,000 population is

2011: 0.2212
2010: 0.1113
2009: 0.1714
2008: 0.4515
2007: 0.2816
2006: 0.2917
2005: 0.3518
2004: 0.4119
2003: 0.3520
2002: 0.1821

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual suicides by any means total

2012: 27835
2011: 289
2010: 313
2009: 260
2008: 282
2007: 242
2006: 291
2005: 213
2004: 146
2003: 144
2002: 183
2001: 158
2000: 185
1999: 154
1998: 150
1997: 138
1996: 143
1995: 146

Rate of Suicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of suicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2012: 15.246
2011: 15.93
2010: 17.34
2009: 14.50
2008: 15.85
2007: 13.74
2006: 16.69
2005: 12.33
2004: 8.52
2003: 8.45
2002: 10.78
2001: 9.36
2000: 10.95
1999: 9.15
1998: 8.93
1997: 8.23
1996: 8.56
1995: 8.79
1994: 8.4136

Gun Suicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual firearm suicides total

2011: 412
2010: 1313
2009: 714
2008: 1815
2007: 1016
2006: 1117
2005: 1218
2004: 1219
2003: 820
2002: 1521
2001: 722
2000: 1323
1999: 1124
1998: 1225
1997: 2126
1996: 1527
1995: 1628
1990: 2337
1985: 19
1980: 10

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is

2011: 0.2212
2010: 0.7213
2009: 0.3914
2008: 1.0115
2007: 0.5716
2006: 0.6317
2005: 0.6918
2004: 0.7019
2003: 0.4720
2002: 0.8821
2001: 0.4122
2000: 0.7723
1999: 0.6524
1998: 0.7125
1997: 1.2526
1996: 0.9027
1995: 0.9628
1994: 1.3438
1990: 1.436
1985: 1.21
1980: 0.65

Handgun Suicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual handgun suicides total

2011: 112
2008: 115
2006: 117
2005: 118
2003: 120
2002: 221

Rate of Handgun Suicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of handgun suicide per 100,000 population is

2011: 0.0612
2008: 0.0615
2006: 0.0617
2005: 0.0618
2003: 0.0620
2002: 0.1221

Long Gun Suicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the number of long gun suicides is

2011: 112
2010: 913
2009: 514
2008: 1115
2007: 516
2006: 617
2005: 818
2004: 519
2003: 420
2002: 621
2001: 422

Rate of Long Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of long gun suicide per 100,000 population is

2011: 0.0612
2010: 0.5013
2009: 0.2814
2008: 0.6215
2007: 0.2816
2006: 0.3417
2005: 0.4618
2004: 0.2919
2003: 0.2320
2002: 0.3521
2001: 0.2422

Gun Suicides (Other)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual gun suicides (other) total

2011: 212
2010: 413
2009: 214
2008: 615
2007: 516
2006: 417
2005: 318
2004: 719
2003: 320
2002: 721
2001: 322

Rate of Gun Suicide (Other) per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of gun suicide (other) per 100,000 population is

2011: 0.1112
2010: 0.2213
2009: 0.1114
2008: 0.3415
2007: 0.2816
2006: 0.2317
2005: 0.1718
2004: 0.4119
2003: 0.1820
2002: 0.4121
2001: 0.1822

Unintentional Gun Deaths

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual unintentional shooting deaths total

2006: 117
2003: 120
2001: 122
2000: 123
1999: 039
1996: 227
1995: 428

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death per 100,000 population is

2006: 0.0617
2003: 0.0620
2001: 0.0622
2000: 0.0623
1999: 0.0039
1996: 0.1227
1995: 0.2428
1994: 0.1240

Unintentional Long Gun Deaths

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual unintentional shooting deaths by long gun total

2006: 117
2003: 120

Rate of Unintentional Long Gun Death per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death by long gun per 100,000 population is

2006: 0.0617
2003: 0.0620

Unintentional Gun Deaths (Other)

In Northern Ireland, annual unintentional shooting deaths by firearm (other) total 2001: 122

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death (Other) per 100,000 People

In Northern Ireland, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death by firearm (other) per 100,000 population is 2001: 0.0622

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total

2003: 120
1999: 224 39
1998: 225
1996: 227
1995: 428

Rate of Gun Death from Undetermined Cause per 100,000 People

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the annual rate of unknown-cause shooting deaths per 100,000 population is

2003: 0.0620
1999: 0.1224 39
1998: 0.1225
1996: 0.1227
1995: 0.2428
1994: 0.1241

Gun Deaths (Other) from Undetermined Cause

In Northern Ireland, annual deaths by firearm (other) in which the cause remains undecided total 2003: 120

Rate of Gun Death (Other) from Undetermined Cause per 100,000 People

In Northern Ireland, the annual rate of unknown-cause gun deaths (Other) per 100,000 population is 2003: 0.0620

Justifiable Gun Homicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual legal-intervention gun homicides total

2011: 112
2009: 114
2007: 116

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In Northern Ireland, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid licence42 43

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In Northern Ireland, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law44 45

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In Northern Ireland, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law46

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in Northern Ireland is categorised as restrictive47

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Northern Ireland includes the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 200448

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Northern Ireland are regulated by the Chief Constable49

Right to Possess Firearms

In Northern Ireland, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law50 51

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Northern Ireland, civilians are not allowed to possess automatic firearms or semi-automatic firearms other than semi-automatic rifles chambered for .22 rimfire cartridges52 53 54

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Northern Ireland, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited52 53 54

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Northern Ireland, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted under a licence only when chambered for .22 rimfire cartridges52 53 54

Regulation of Handguns

In Northern Ireland, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under a licence only in rare circumstances52 53 54

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Northern Ireland, only licensed gun owners55 49 51 56 57 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Northern Ireland are required to prove genuine reason to possess a firearm51 58

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Northern Ireland is 18 years51 59

Gun Licence Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Northern Ireland must pass a background check which considers various49 51 60 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Northern Ireland, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are required49

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Northern Ireland stipulates61 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In Northern Ireland gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every five years62 56 57

Limit on Number of Guns

Licensed firearm owners in Northern Ireland are permitted to possess any number of firearms62

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in Northern Ireland are permitted to possess the quantity of ammunition described in the firearm certificate62

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Northern Ireland, the law requires63 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Gun Dealer Record Keeping

In Northern Ireland, licensed firearm dealers are required64 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

Gun Manufacturer Record Keeping

In Northern Ireland, licensed gun makers are required64 to keep a record of each firearm produced, for inspection by a regulating authority

Gun Sales and Transfers

Regulation of Private Gun Sales

In Northern Ireland, the private sale and transfer of firearms is permitted65 63

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Northern Ireland, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful42 43 63

Number of Licensed Gun Dealers

The number of licensed firearm dealers in Northern Ireland is reported to be 2011: 11266

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Northern Ireland include67 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of private firearms and ammunition by licensed gun owners

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Dealer

Firearm regulations in Northern Ireland include68 69 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by licensed arms dealers

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Northern Ireland include70 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In Northern Ireland, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law63

Firearm Tracing

In Northern Ireland, state authorities carry out71 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Ballistic Marking of Firearms and Ammunition

In Northern Ireland, state authorities employ72 ballistic fingerprinting technology to trace guns and ammunition

Carrying Guns

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In Northern Ireland, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit73

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Northern Ireland, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm74 is 10 years prison and/or a fine75

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Northern Ireland are known to have76 implemented voluntary firearm surrender schemes, and/or weapon seizure programmes in order to reduce the number of illicit firearms in circulation

Surrendered in Gun Amnesty

In Northern Ireland, the number of firearms voluntarily surrendered in recent arms amnesty and collection programmes is reported to be 2,44577 (2005)78

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Northern Ireland, it is state policy79 to destroy surplus, collected and seized firearms rather than return them to the secondary arms market


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52.

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53.

Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 46: Exemptions from Requirement of Authority under Article 45.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6658)Full Citation

54.

Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 12: Certificate for Prohibited Weapon.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6671)Full Citation

55.

Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 3: Firearm Certificate Required.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6668)Full Citation

56.

Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 17: Firearm Certificate or Shotgun Certificate Granted in Great Britain.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6672)Full Citation

57.

Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 19: Issue of European Firearms Pass.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6673)Full Citation

58.

Northern Ireland.2005.‘Good Reason to Possess a Firearm.’ Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls 2005.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,1 February. (Q6852)Full Citation

59.

Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 7: Grant of Firearm Certificate to Young Persons.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6669)Full Citation

60.

Northern Ireland.2005.‘Fitness to Be Entrusted With a Firearm.’ Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls 2005.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,1 February. (Q6864)Full Citation

61.

Northern Ireland.2005.‘Intemperate Habits.’ Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls 2005.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,1 February. (Q6851)Full Citation

62.

Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 8: Content and Duration of Firearm Certificate.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6670)Full Citation

63.

Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 40: Notification of Dealings Involving Firearms.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6642)Full Citation

64.

Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 38: Record of Transactions in Firearms.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6656)Full Citation

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66.

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Northern Ireland.2005.‘Security of Firearms and Ammunition (Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private).’ Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls 2005.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,1 February. (Q6856)Full Citation

68.

Northern Ireland.2005.‘Security of Firearms and Ammunition (Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Dealer).’ Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls 2005.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,1 February. (Q6858)Full Citation

69.

Northern Ireland.2005.‘Conditions for the Authorisation of Firearm Dealers.’ Guidance on Northern Ireland Firearms Controls 2005.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,1 February. (Q6860)Full Citation

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Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 54: Production of Firearms for Ballistic and Other Tests.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6631)Full Citation

73.

Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 61: Carrying or Discharging Firearm in a Public Place.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6844)Full Citation

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Northern Ireland.2004.‘Article 69: Prosecution and Punishment of Offences - Schedule 5.’ Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004.Belfast:Northern Ireland Assembly,10 March. (Q6632)Full Citation

76.

Nieminen, T, John de Chastelain and Andrew D, Sens.2005.‘Decommissioning of IRA Weapons.’ Independent International Commission on Decommissioning.Belfast:Independent International Commission on Decommissioning,26 September. (Q6850)Full Citation

77.

BBC News. 2005. ‘IRA Guns: The List of Weapons.’ 26 September. (N297) Full Citation

78.

BBC News. 2005. ‘IRA 'has destroyed all its arms'.’ 26 September. (N298) Full Citation

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Stavrianakis, Ann, In: Faltas, Sami and Vera Chrobok (Eds.).2004.‘Storage and Destruction of Surplus Small Arms.’ Disposal of Surplus Small Arms: A survey of policies and practices in OSCE countries.Bonn:Bonn International Center for Conversion, BASIC, Saferworld, and the Small Arms Survey,1 February. (Q3926)Full Citation