Why are only the police allowed to use the taser?

In light of recent tragic events, a debate has arisen about what tools are available to the police to counter attacks. Experts state that an electric stun gun would have solved the situation on Vabaduse Square very effectively. Whereas the legislative basis allows the use of electric shock weapons by the police already today. But why only the police?

A civilian is much more likely to be the victim of a knife attack or similar attack. However, it is unlikely that a civilian would defend himself with a firearm. Not because he doesn't want to defend himself with a firearm in such a situation, but because he simply doesn't have a firearm at hand. Statistics confirm that most people do not want to associate themselves with firearms at all, much less carry a firearm with them constantly. Unfortunately, there are few alternative means of protection.

The regulation of the Arms Act essentially leaves only a knife and tear gas on the scales next to the firearm. As a means of protection, however, gas is unreliable and, depending on the weather and the distance of use, can also endanger the defender himself without it even falling into the hands of the attacker. However, when using a knife for defensive actions, there is a very high risk that the attacker will be seriously injured or even killed. Although this may be justified in the eyes of the law, there are not many people who would want to defend their rights in such a bloody way. However, if the knife falls into the hands of the attacker, the defender himself can face the same consequences. There are no such risks associated with the use of a stun gun.

The principle of operation of a stun gun is not to harm the subject. The most common injuries resulting from the use of a stun gun on a subject consist solely of marks at the electrode entry points and injuries from falls caused by CNS paralysis. Of course, a stun gun is not completely safe - it is still a weapon. However, the experience of other countries shows unequivocally that no other weapon offers a ratio of efficiency and safety similar to the electric shock gun. The stun gun spares the attacker, but ends the attack. So why can't a civilian own it?

Electric stun guns have been prohibited in civilian circulation since the adoption of the Weapons Act, but unfortunately, no information is found about the reasons for the ban. Only the discussion about whether electric stun guns should be legalized in the police service has left a faint trace in the transcripts of the Riigikogu sessions. The prevailing opinion was that it would be reasonable to allow the use of an electric shock weapon in Estonia before reaching for a firearm. But still - why only the police?

The opinion story was published in the opinion section of the newspaper Eesti Päevaleht on November 1, 2017.