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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

ChartThe estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in Northern Ireland is

2017: 206,0001
2007: 380,0002

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

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

2017: 11.01
2007: 21.92

Number of Privately Owned Rifles

In Northern Ireland, the number of rifles in civilian possession is reported to be 18,2503

Number of Privately Owned Shotguns

In Northern Ireland, the number of shotguns in civilian possession is reported to be 80,2583

Number of Privately Owned Handguns

In Northern Ireland, the number of handguns in civilian possession is reported to be 13,9353

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a 2007 comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Northern Ireland ranked at No. 944

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a 2007 comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Northern Ireland ranked at No. 252

Proportion of Households with Firearms

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the percentage of households with one or more guns is reported to be

2005: 12.7%5
1989: 9.4%

Proportion of Households with Handguns

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the percentage of households with one or more handguns is reported to be

2005: 2.1%5
1989: 1.5%

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

The number of licensed gun owners in Northern Ireland is reported to be 61,5656 7

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

The rate of licensed firearm owners per 100 people in Northern Ireland is 3.418

Number of Registered Firearms

ChartThe number of registered guns in Northern Ireland is reported to be

2017: 153,0001
2010: 141,3939 7

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

ChartThe rate of registered guns per 100 people in Northern Ireland is

2017: 8.188
2010: 7.83

Estimated Number of Illicit Firearms

Unlawfully held guns cannot be counted, but in Northern Ireland there are estimated to be

2017: 53,0001

Estimated Rate of Illicit Firearms per 100 Population

Unlawfully held guns cannot be counted, but in Northern Ireland the rate of illicit firearms per 100 people is estimated to be

2017: 2.838

Government Guns

Routine Arming of Police

In Northern Ireland, police officers on routine patrol carry one or more firearms10 11 12

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Northern Ireland are reported to have 13,00013 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual deaths resulting from firearms total

2013: 1114
2012: 11
2011: 8
2010: 1515 16
2009: 1317
2008: 3018
2007: 1919
2006: 2020
2005: 2321
2004: 2422
2003: 1923
2002: 1824
2001: 1025
2000: 5226
1999: 2827
1998: 2928
1997: 3329
1996: 5230
1995: 11831

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

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

2013: 0.6014
2012: 0.60
2011: 0.44
2010: 0.83
2009: 0.728
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

Total Number of Male Gun Deaths

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual male deaths resulting from firearms total

2013: 1114
2012: 10
2011: 8
2010: 15

Total Number of Female Gun Deaths

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual female deaths resulting from firearms total

2013: 014
2012: 1
2011: 0
2010: 0

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual homicides by any means total

2013: 1914
2012: 25
2011: 27
2010: 27
2009: 26
2008: 30
2007: 24
2005: 41
2004: 33
2003: 45
2002: 52
2001: 48
2000: 3432 33 34
1999: 75
1997: 4933 34
1996: 39
1995: 24
2/06: 29

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

2013: 0.6014
2012: 0.60
2011: 0.44
2010: 0.83
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: 6.0935

Male Homicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual male homicides by any means total

2013: 1414
2012: 18
2011: 22
2010: 23

Female Homicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual female homicides by any means total

2013: 514
2012: 7
2011: 5
2010: 4

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual firearm homicides total

2013: 214
2012: 6
2011: 436
2010: 215 16
2009: 517 34
2008: 1218 34
2007: 819 34
2006: 820 34
2005: 1121 34
2004: 1222 34
2003: 923 34
2002: 324 37
2001: 225
2000: 3826
1999: 1527
1998: 1528
1997: 1229
1996: 3330
1995: 9431

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

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

2013: 0.1114
2012: 0.33
2011: 0.22
2010: 0.11
2009: 0.2817 34
2008: 0.6718 34
2007: 0.4519 34
2006: 0.4620 34
2005: 0.6421 34
2004: 0.7022 34
2003: 0.5323 34
2002: 0.1824 37
2001: 0.1225
2000: 2.2526
1999: 0.8927
1998: 0.8928
1997: 0.7229
1996: 1.9730
1995: 5.6631
1994: 5.2438

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm is reported to be

2011: 22%39
2010: 13%
2009: 17%
2008: 4%
2007: 14%
2006: 0%
2005: 23%
2004: 14.6%34
2003: 36.4%

Male Gun Homicide Victims

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual male firearm homicides total

2013: 214
2012: 5
2011: 4
2010: 2

Female Gun Homicide Victims

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual female firearm homicides total

2013: 014
2012: 1
2011: 0
2010: 0

Handgun Homicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual handgun homicides total

2008: 318
2007: 219
2006: 220
2005: 321
2004: 222
2003: 323
2001: 125

Rate of Handgun Homicide per 100,000 People

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

2008: 0.1718
2007: 0.1119
2006: 0.1120
2005: 0.1721
2004: 0.1222
2003: 0.1823
2001: 0.0625

Long Gun Homicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual long gun homicides total

2009: 217
2008: 118
2007: 119
2006: 120
2005: 221
2004: 322
2001: 125

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: 0.1117
2008: 0.0618
2007: 0.0619
2006: 0.0620
2005: 0.1221
2004: 0.1822
2001: 0.0625

Gun Homicides (Other)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual gun homicides (other) total

2011: 436
2010: 215
2009: 317
2008: 818
2007: 519
2006: 520
2005: 621
2004: 722
2003: 623
2002: 324

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: 0.2236
2010: 0.1115
2009: 0.1717
2008: 0.4518
2007: 0.2819
2006: 0.2920
2005: 0.3521
2004: 0.4122
2003: 0.3523
2002: 0.1824

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual suicides by any means total

2013: 24314
2012: 203
2011: 220
2010: 241
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

2013: 13.2814
2012: 11.13
2011: 12.13
2010: 13.39
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: 8.4140

Male Suicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual male suicides by any means total

2013: 18614
2012: 164
2011: 173
2010: 186

Female Suicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual female suicides by any means total

2013: 5714
2012: 39
2011: 47
2010: 55

Gun Suicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual firearm suicides total

2013: 814
2012: 4
2011: 436
2010: 1315 16
2009: 717
2008: 1818
2007: 1019
2006: 1120
2005: 1221
2004: 1222
2003: 823
2002: 1524
2001: 725
2000: 1326
1999: 1127
1998: 1228
1997: 2129
1996: 1530
1995: 1631
1990: 2341
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

2013: 0.4414
2012: 0.22
2011: 0.22
2010: 0.72
2009: 0.3917
2008: 1.0118
2007: 0.5719
2006: 0.6320
2005: 0.6921
2004: 0.7022
2003: 0.4723
2002: 0.8824
2001: 0.4125
2000: 0.7726
1999: 0.6527
1998: 0.7128
1997: 1.2529
1996: 0.9030
1995: 0.9631
1994: 1.3442
1990: 1.438
1985: 1.21
1980: 0.65

Male Gun Suicide Victims

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual male firearm suicides total

2013: 814
2012: 4
2011: 4
2010: 13

Female Gun Suicide Victims

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual female firearm suicides total

2013: 014
2012: 0
2011: 0
2010: 0

Handgun Suicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual handgun suicides total

2011: 136
2008: 118
2006: 120
2005: 121
2003: 123
2002: 224

Rate of Handgun Suicide per 100,000 People

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

2011: 0.0636
2008: 0.0618
2006: 0.0620
2005: 0.0621
2003: 0.0623
2002: 0.1224

Long Gun Suicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, the number of long gun suicides is

2011: 136
2010: 915
2009: 517
2008: 1118
2007: 519
2006: 620
2005: 821
2004: 522
2003: 423
2002: 624
2001: 425

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: 0.0636
2010: 0.5015
2009: 0.2817
2008: 0.6218
2007: 0.2819
2006: 0.3420
2005: 0.4621
2004: 0.2922
2003: 0.2323
2002: 0.3524
2001: 0.2425

Gun Suicides (Other)

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual gun suicides (other) total

2011: 236
2010: 415
2009: 217
2008: 618
2007: 519
2006: 420
2005: 321
2004: 722
2003: 323
2002: 724
2001: 325

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: 0.1136
2010: 0.2215
2009: 0.1117
2008: 0.3418
2007: 0.2819
2006: 0.2320
2005: 0.1721
2004: 0.4122
2003: 0.1823
2002: 0.4124
2001: 0.1825

Unintentional Gun Deaths

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual unintentional shooting deaths total

2013: 114
2012: 1
2011: 0
2010: 0
2006: 120
2003: 123
2001: 125
2000: 126
1999: 043
1996: 230
1995: 431

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

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

2013: 014
2012: 0
2011: 0
2010: 0
2006: 0.0620
2003: 0.0623
2001: 0.0625
2000: 0.0626
1999: 0.0043
1996: 0.1230
1995: 0.2431
1994: 0.1244

Unintentional Male Gun Deaths

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual unintentional male shooting deaths total

2013: 114
2012: 1
2011: 0
2010: 0

Unintentional Female Gun Deaths

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual unintentional female shooting deaths total

2013: 014
2012: 0
2011: 0
2010: 0

Unintentional Long Gun Deaths

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

2006: 120
2003: 123

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: 0.0620
2003: 0.0623

Unintentional Gun Deaths (Other)

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

2001: 125

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: 0.0625

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

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

2013: 014
2012: 0
2011: 0
2010: 0
2003: 123
1999: 227 43
1998: 228
1996: 230
1995: 431

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: 0.0623
1999: 0.1227 43
1998: 0.1228
1996: 0.1230
1995: 0.2431
1994: 0.1245

Male Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

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

2013: 014
2012: 0
2011: 0
2010: 0

Female Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

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

2013: 014
2012: 0
2011: 0
2010: 0

Gun Deaths (Other) from Undetermined Cause

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

2003: 123

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: 0.0623

Legal Intervention Gun Homicides

ChartIn Northern Ireland, annual legal-intervention gun homicides total

2011: 136
2009: 117
2007: 119

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 licence46 47

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Firearm Exports

In Northern Ireland, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law48 49

Firearm Imports

In Northern Ireland, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law50

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in Northern Ireland is categorised as restrictive51

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Northern Ireland includes the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 200452

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Northern Ireland are regulated by the Chief Constable53

Right to Possess Firearms

In Northern Ireland, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law54 55 56

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 cartridges57 58 59

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Northern Ireland, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited57 58 59

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Northern Ireland, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted under licence only when chambered for .22 rimfire cartridges57 58 59

Regulation of Handguns

In Northern Ireland, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under licence57 58 59

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Northern Ireland, only licensed gun owners60 53 56 61 62 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 establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm56 63

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Northern Ireland is 18 years56 64

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Northern Ireland must pass a background check which considers various53 56 65 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Northern Ireland, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are required53

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Northern Ireland stipulates66 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 years67 61 62

Limit on Number of Guns

Licensed firearm owners in Northern Ireland are permitted to possess any number of firearms67

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in Northern Ireland are permitted to possess the quantity of ammunition described in the firearm certificate67

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Northern Ireland, the law requires68 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 required69 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 required69 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 prohibited without a permit70 68

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Northern Ireland, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful46 47 68

Number of Licensed Gun Dealers

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

2011: 11271

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Northern Ireland include72 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 include73 74 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by licensed arms dealers

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Northern Ireland include75 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 law68

Firearm Tracing

In Northern Ireland, state authorities carry out76 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Ballistic Record of Firearms and Ammunition

In Northern Ireland, the ballistic characteristics of each civilian firearm and its ammunition are not77 78 recorded in a register

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 permit79

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Northern Ireland, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm80 is 10 years in prison and/or a fine81

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Northern Ireland are known to have82 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 2,44583 (2005)84

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Northern Ireland, it is state policy85 to destroy surplus, collected and seized firearms rather than return them to the secondary arms market

MeasuresInternational Controls

Regional Agreements

United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

The UNCCPCJ, a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council mandated to promote action to prevent national and transnational crime, lists86 Northern Ireland as an elected member

Arms Trade Treaty

The Arms Trade Treaty has been signed and ratified87 by Northern Ireland

United Nations Firearms Protocol

The United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition has been signed, but not yet ratified88 by Northern Ireland


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Karp, Aaron.2007.‘Completing the Count: Civilian firearms.’ Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City.Cambridge:Cambridge University Press,27 August. (Q4)Full Citation

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van Dijk, Jan, John van Kesteren and Paul Smit.2007.‘Ownership of Firearms and Handguns in Countries and Main Cities (percentages): 1989-2005 ICVS and 2005 EU ICS.’ Criminal Victimisation in International Perspective: Key findings from the 2004-2005 ICVS and EU ICS.Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime / UNODC,1 January. (Q11812)Full Citation

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McEvoy, Elaine.2013.‘Number of Firearm Certificate Holders and Firearms Held on Firearm Certificate in Northern Ireland.’ Email Response to Request on Number of Firearm Certificate Holders and Firearms Held on Firearm Certificate in Northern Ireland.Belfast:Firearms and Explosives Branch, Police Service of Northern Ireland,31 May. (Q6867)Full Citation

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GunPolicy.org.2016.‘Calculated Rates - Northern Ireland.’ Historical Population Data.Belfast:Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency,21 July. (Q6621)Full Citation

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