TWO collectible 'war trophy' AK-47s are set to go on auction in Ireland amidst controversy over their sale.
The guns, which were once in service but are now deactivated, can be bidded on by anyone over the age of 18 in an auction by Whyte's Auctioneers in Dublin on September 9.
Speaking on RTÉ's Liveline to host Joe Duffy, auctioneer Ian Whyte said normally, deactivated firearms auctioned by Whyte's, come from collectors who have acquired them from the online market, and military fairs in Ireland, Britain and across Europe.
The sale of deactivated and imitation firearms is said to be 'a grey area' in Ireland.
The Minister for Justice is currently working on producing legislation in relations to the matter.
Mr Whyte said that all guns sold by the auctioneers are deactivated with a Birmingham Certificate, authenticating that the firearm has been removed of it's firing mechanism and cannot be put back into service.
While he said the two guns 'look great' and will never work again, host Duffy questioned where the guns came from, and whether they had been used in gang warfare or paramilitary activity.
"We know where they came from, they come from genuine collectors," Mr Whyte said. "A lot of them have turned up in the UK as trophies from the Iraq war by soldiers in the British services - a lot of whom are Irish.
"They take home the trophy and get it deactivated, because they wouldn't get a license for holding it otherwise."
Mr Whyte also said that the sale of the guns to be used in gangland crime is unlikely as "those people don't need to come to an auction to buy a deactivated gun, they have real ones already.
"Any criminal in this town knows where they can buy guns, and they buy real ones. They're not interested in ones that don't work," he said.
Retired Irish Defence Forces Commandant Frank Reidy said the auction is "absolutely legal, but that doesn't make it right.
"The there's two things happening in the country right now, the first thing is the gang warfare, and we also have a terror threat - whether it's real, high or low, it is there.
"We have armed Gardaí responding to both threats - more so than ever - and some of them are overt and some of them are covert.
"The danger with [auctioning an AK-47] is not the person who buys it and keeps it locked up in their house, but someone carrying it."
"It's extremely dangerous in the current climate," he added.
"If it was stolen [from a home] it could be used for nefarious activities, for robberies, hold-ups, or for just threatening people. They may be collectors items, but they're not toys and they're very dangerous."