"Justice Minister Judith Collins brought her favourite accessory – the Taser – to the National Party conference yesterday morning and threatened to turn it on Labour nemesis Trevor Mallard. The two are at present locked in a bitter defamation battle, and Ms Collins received applause when she produced the weapon with a flourish asking: ‘‘Now, where’s Mr Mallard?’’ The Hutt South MP was actually very close – checked into a room at Sky City, where the gathering was taking place. On learning of her quip, he tweeted: ‘‘room 121 but a bit early for that’’. On learning of his presence, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye took to social media to declare: ‘‘even Labour MPs want to attend Nat party conference’’."
This begs the question as to how former Police Minister Judith Collins managed to gain access to a TASER 50,000 volt stun gun and was able to wave it around at the National Party Conference as some kind of stunt? Did she import one illegally, or did Police give her one? If Police made the TASER available to Ms Collins they should be held accountable. Under Police protocol when Police take a TASER out of the armoury they must sign it out of the register then sign it back in upon its return. Further before an officer can use a TASER they must complete a supervised course.
Section 202A of the Crimes Act 1961 reads:
Possession of offensive weapons or disabling substances
In terms of s202A(4)(a) what was her lawful authority to possess a restricted weapon? Further, what was her reasonable excuse? Surely it can't be a reasonable excuse for the Minister to have access to a restricted weapon with the permission of Police because she wants to show it off to her mates?
Also, a TASER is a hand-held device that fires an electrically charged harpoon like projectile that conveys a 50,000 volt charge that can incapacitate the subject. This projectile is fired from the TASER by way of a cartridge of compressed nitrogen. Under s2 of the Arms Act 1983 a TASER can be classed as an airgun:
According to Police jargon a TASER is an "Electro-Muscular Incapacitation device and has been classified as a restricted weapon. According to the NZ Police website the TASER was classified during its trials in New Zealand as a restricted weapon (see http://www.police.govt.nz/resources/2006/taser-trial/detail.html):
The taser is by legal definition a restricted weapon as specified under paragraph 8 of the Arms (Restricted Weapons and Specially Dangerous Airguns) Order 1983. Sworn members of the Police have statutory authority to be in possession of and carry restricted weapons in the course of their duty by virtue of Section 3, Arms Act.
Legal Implications - use of force
The use of an EMI device is a use of force and as such, its use must be reasonable, proportionate, and necessary in the circumstances. The relevant sections of the Crimes Act, 1961 relating to Police use of force are:
- Section 31 (Arrest by constable pursuant to statutory powers),
- Section 32 (Arrest by a constable of a person believed to have committed an offence),
- Section 39 (Force used in executing process or arrest),
- Section 40 (Preventing escape or rescue),
- Section 41 (Prevention of suicide in certain cases),
- Section 48 (Self defence and defence of another),
- Section 62 (Excess of force).
If Ms Collins is not licensed to use the TASER a case can be made that Police supplied this restricted weapon to an unlicensed person. This is an imprisonable offence.
If you or I supplied a TASER to a member of the public I have no doubt that Police would strive to visit the full force of the law upon us for supplying the weapon in the first place. Further if a member of the public had a stun device in similar circumstances they would be charged with possession of an offensive weapon, if we had real equality before the law so should the Minister.