Mazhilis Discusses Bill Restricting Use of Traumatic Weapons

ASTANA – On May 29, the Mazhilis of Kazakhstan’s Parliament discussed the legal aspects of the use and acquisition of traumatic weapons at a round table chaired by Speaker Nurlan Nigmatullin. Traumatic weapons are non-lethal or less-lethal weapons, especially firearms that are intended for use against an unarmed person, particularly for self-defence or crowd control.

Addressing participants of the event, initiated by the Mazhilis Committee for Legislation and Judicial Reform, Nigmatullin noted that a weapon is by definition an instrument of attack, not defence and any turnover of arms would require strict control.

“Over the past five years, the internal affairs’ authorities (police) have reported on 19 cases of the use of traumatic weapons for the purpose of self-defence, whereas they have been used thousands of times for criminal purposes. Therefore, when the gun designed to protect becomes a source of threat, the only way to protect our citizens is either to legislate against it or tighten the requirements for its use,” Nigmatullin said.

According to the speaker, a shot from the Russian-made Osa (Wasp) handgun, part of a family of Russian nonlethal pistols, could be as fatal as the sting of a wasp can be.

Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has also taken a firm attitude on traumatic weapons. Minister Kalmukhanbet Kassymov underlined in his speech that the ministry is not only prepared to prohibit their sale, but also to buy weapons back from the population. Reasons for prohibiting the class of weapon include the 800 offences committed with the use of traumatic weapons in only the last five years, the fact that only 47 of those guns were registered and that one third of all “gunshot” violations result from traumatic weapons. The cities of Astana and Almaty account for nearly half of such cases. Other crime statistics and specific examples cited by Deputy Prosecutor General Andrei Kravchenko supported the case against the availability of traumatic arms.

Similar examples were cited in speeches by Vice Minister of Health Erik Bayzhunusov and Vice Minister of Education and Science Murat Abenov.

Vice president of Koramsak, the Kazakhstan Association of Arms, Sergei Katnov; President of the Association of Security Organisations Anatoly Kalinin; chairman of Honour, the public association of veterans of operational services, Yedilbay Shakirov; head of the nongovernmental organisation Justice, Olga Ryll, and Regional Director of Public Penal Reform International in Central Asia Saule Mektepbayeva also shared their views.

The starting point for the discussion was a bill that enshrines into law the right of police and law enforcement agencies to acquire these weapons and use them in addition to firearms in accordance with weapons laws.

As stated in the draft of the bill, traumatic arms can be purchased and used as service weapons by private security organisations and other entities which have this lawfully enshrined right. Among them are legal bodies with special assignments, such as organisations for the protection of the environment and natural resources, the Kazpochta courier service, the aviation security service and a number of others, as well as law enforcement and special agencies.

The bill also provides for the withdrawal from the public of traumatic weapons and their transfer to the category of service weapons. The changes do not establish a complete ban on the circulation of traumatic arms, however.

The legislation allows citizens to acquire, keep and bear gas and electric arms. Citizens may also purchase and keep (without bearing) smooth-bore and long-barreled arms, which are deemed acceptable for self-defence and defence of property. Aerosols, which do not require any special permissions to purchase, may also be used.

The implementation of the law on the redemption of registered traumatic weapons, if adopted, would require expenditures from the state budget. The necessary funds will be taken into account in the formation of the draft budget for 2014-2016.

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