A series of recent posts [LINK] [LINK] [LINK] covered the (10-year-old) news that tasers are explicitly listed as a 'Prohibited Firearm' in Canada. The keyword is 'firearm'. It is important because there are many laws covering the use of firearms in Canada.
One key Canadian law that I raised a few posts back is this one:
Pointing a firearm: 87.(1) Every person commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, points a firearm at another person, whether the firearm is loaded or unloaded. [LINK]
I'd like to point out that a firearm is a firearm; loaded or not, it is still a firearm. And thus, a taser without the dart & wire cartridge installed and being used in 'Drive-Stun' mode is still a firearm. And it is still being pointed. There is literally no way around this conclusion. The taser's cartridge is logically, technically and legally equivalent to the gun's bullet. And the taser is still a firearm no matter if the cartridge is installed or not. There's no argument that can break this obvious equivalency.
And so the taser being used in 'Drive-Stun' mode is still a firearm. Using it in 'Drive-Stun' mode obviously includes pointing it. Thus, by the above Canadian law, an officer using it in this mode had better have a lawful excuse good enough to justify pointing a fiream (a gun) at the subject.
And thus, it would appear that the police in Canada are wide open to a huge number of straightforward lawsuits for all the many, many, many cases where the circumstances would provide them no such lawful excuse. There are literally hundreds (thousands?) of incidents across Canada that are now hanging over the various police forces and governments like the Sword of Damocles.
This is huge.
Local governments could do worse that issuing an immediate recall of these weapons until the policy and training catch up with the laws that have been in place for the past decade. To fail to do so, opens them up to the risk of additional multi-million dollar lawsuits; in addition to those that might already be gathering in the legal storm clouds on the horizon.
And to those governments and police forces that took a conservative and cautious approach to the taser sales pitch, this is the payback. Your legal exposure is considerably reduced. A justifiable reward for being skeptical and clever.
But for those governments and police forces that got fully sucked-in, you had better go through your taser procurement files to see if you can find anything to bring the distributor and Taser into the inevitable lawsuits. One misspoke word, one poorly-worded brochure, from a taser salesman might transfer millions in liability from your government to them.
I also wonder how many other laws might have been broken by those that didn't follow the many other rules governing firearms.
Are prisons permitted to use firearms on misbehaving prisoners?
Oh, one more point. I read through the Firearms Act to see what sort of natural allowances are made for peace officiers. There are a few, but those allowances are primarily related to handling and modifying (that sort of thing). There didn't seem to be any blanket allowance for running around town pointing firearms at people such as drunks. In case you were wondering...
What a mess.
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