IRISH gun-ownership law is set to become as liberal as in the US, with high-calibre rifles and assault pistols soon to be easily available.

The change follows a decision by the state solicitor's office not to oppose a High Court challenge to the state's firearms policy.

Under Irish gun law, shooting enthusiasts will be able to import and licence guns of all types and calibre, including many weapons that have been restricted in the UK and Europe.

The Sunday Tribune understands that the state will not mount a challenge against an upcoming High Court application to import a high-calibre 0.375 rifle into the state.

The decision follows an earlier refusal by the garda to licence the weapon.

Last week the state allowed an appeal against a similar garda refusal for the licencing of a handgun to go unopposed in the High Court. Both cases were taken by shooting enthusiast Frank Brophy, from Co Wex fo rd .

Until recently, the only weapons that gardaí would issue licences for were standard shotguns for hunting and rifles of a lower-calibre used for shooting and killing vermin.