HIGHLY realistic firearms such as the Kalashnikov and the Glock gun – the gangster’s weapons of choice - are legally available for sale in Swords.
In what will come as a shock to some local parents and business owners, it’s now possible to purchase the imitation firearms for as little e100 in the strikearms.com store in Airside Enterprise Centre.
No license is needed to purchase the highly realistic firearms, which range in size from handguns to sizeable rifles.
Northside People would have been able to buy the replica Glock, a firearm commonly associated with gangland crime, for just e100 from the Strikearms.com store.
With a proper blow back mechanism and metal shaft, only those familiar with weapons would be able to differentiate between the gas-powered imitation and the real Glock.
The Kalashnikov is also a top seller as it’s the “same as the real McCoy” with a real steel body and wood panelling.
Hobbyists use these legal guns in mock war games as part of a sport called airsoft, which has taken off in Ireland over the last four years.
The sport is becoming increasingly popular with young children although only people aged 18 and over can purchase the guns from the store.
High-force pellet guns are illegal in Ireland and are deemed an offensive weapon under the Firearms Act.
However, the airsoft guns, which shoot plastic pellets, are legal in Ireland because the velocity is one jule or less with pellets travelling 328 feet per second.
Shop owner Alan Behan conceded that these imitation firearms would put the “fear of God” into a victim if they fell into the wrong hands.
“There is an obvious concern that these imitation firearms could be brandished in hold ups, burglaries and raids,” Mr Behan told Northside People.
“However, despite being an imitation the court of law draws no distinction between real guns and toy guns with a minimum sentence of 10 years for anyone who commits a crime with an airsoft gun.
“All of these guns are designed for shooting at people but the pellet will bounce off them without injury.
“Obviously, it is up to the individual what they do with the firearm but we do our best to warn customers that it is an offence to brandish the replica.
“The one thing I’d say is that it would be better for any victim to be held up with a replica than the real gun which could be used to kill by a raider who gets overwhelmed in the situation.
“Our clients are mainly those into airsoft and gun collectors who want to buy the imitation to complete their collections.”
Mr Behan insisted that it wouldn’t be possible to fire a metal pellet out of the imitation firearms.
“A metal bb won’t travel as far because it is heavier so it just wouldn’t be viable,” he said.
The sale of imitation firearms is big business as there are a number of airsoft clubs based on the Northside.
Mr Behan said he has followed all the guidelines and customs procedures from the Department of Justice and that business is thriving with parents often dropping by to pick up imitation firearms for their children.
“It might come across as distasteful but some parents who have struggled to get their children into football and the normal outdoor sports often hit on the fact that their kids are more interested in playing shooting games on the playstation,” he stated.
“They take that hobby to the next level with airsoft which can be quite positive for kids as it gets them in the outdoors; it’s a good team-building exercise.”
When contacted, a spokesperson for the gardai, said the legality of such items related to how they were used.
“Imitation firearms may be deemed illegal, regardless of their jule, depending on their usage,” the spokesperson told Northside People.
“It is all a matter of interpretation and how they are used.
“For instance, a kids’ toy gun can be deemed an offensive weapon if used in a threatening and criminal manner.”