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Above the law

Written By: - Date published: 9:05 am, July 24th, 2012 - 38 comments
Categories: Judith Collins, law - Tags:

Ha ha ha! Wasn’t it funny when Judith Collins brandished a TASER at the National Party conference and said she wanted to use it on Trevor Mallard. I guess it’s alright for me to whip out an airgun or a knife next time I’m at the pub. You know,  as a joke. Oh? It’s only OK when Ministers are using to further their phony tough guy brand? Must have missed that section of the Arms Act.

Michael Bott has more:

The Dominion Post page 2, 23 July 2012 carried an interesting story:

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 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:

202APossession of offensive weapons or disabling substances
  • (1)In subsection (4)(a) offensive weapon means any article made or altered for use for causing bodily injury, or intended by the person having it with him for such use.

    (2)In subsection (4)(b) offensive weapon means any article capable of being used for causing bodily injury.

    (3)In this section disabling substance means any anaesthetising or other substance produced for use for disabling persons, or intended by any person having it with him for such use.

    (4)Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years—

    • (a)who, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, has with him in any public place any knife or offensive weapon or disabling substance; or

    • (b)who has in his possession in any place any offensive weapon or disabling substance in circumstances that prima facie show an intention to use it to commit an offence involving bodily injury or the threat or fear of violence.

    (5)It is a defence to a charge under subsection (4)(b) if the person charged proves that he did not intend to use the offensive weapon or disabling substance to commit an offence involving bodily injury or the threat or fear of violence.

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: 

2  Interpretation

  • In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—

    airgun includes—

    • (a)any air rifle; and
    • (b)any air pistol; and
    • (c)any weapon from which, by the use of gas or compressed air (and not by force of explosive), any shot, bullet, missile, or other projectile can be discharged

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):

Legal implications

Possession

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 airgun to an unlicensed person. This is an imprisonable offence.

    • 43 Selling or supplying firearm or airgun to unlicensed person
      • (1)Every person commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or to both who—

        • (a)sells or supplies a firearm (other than a pistol, military style semi-automatic firearm, or restricted weapon) to any person who is not the holder of a firearms licence or a dealer’s licence or a permit issued for the purposes of section 16(1); or
        • (b)sells or supplies an airgun to any natural person who is under the age of 18 years and is not the holder of a firearms licence.

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.

38 comments on “Above the law ”

  1. Anne 1

    Parliament sits this afternoon. Labour has the opportunity to question her closely on the matter. If she denies the police gave it to her then she has either lied to the House – and therefore breached parliamentary privilege – or someone else gave it to her which is even more serious.

    My bet is: internal police political patronage.

    • Dr Terry 1.1

      Maybe Minister of Police Tolley wangled it for Collins? I think all Ministers have been themselves suffering from the effects of being stun-gunned, many times, going by their behaviour.

    • Fortran 1.2

      Anne

      Has anybody seen this Taser yet ??
      Or…….

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Like it or not, the police have discretion not to charge people of crimes.

    Thankfully I think that’s a good thing.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1

      Thats why we have private prosecutions…. the author of Farragoblog has been behind a few !

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      Yes, it is a good thing. Doesn’t mean that the police should break the law in the first place especially at what seems to be the whim of a politician. When that happens, which it did in this case, then the law should be applied fully.

      • Vicky32 2.2.1

        When that happens, which it did in this case, then the law should be applied fully.

        Absolutely right!

  3. Carol 3

    I got the impression from Audrey young’s sycophantic piece in the Herald, that Collins got the taser from the police:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10821571

    Collins began the second day by pulling out her Taser, a cherished memento from her three years as Police and Corrections Minister.

    “Where’s Mr Mallard?” she said, joking about the Labour MP she has filed defamation proceedings against.

    She said the police wouldn’t let her have a battery charger for the stun gun and seemed quite disappointed.

    But what a nasty piece Collins is. And can’t, for the life of me, think why she considers it in any way acceptable to be so attached to it, let alone brandish it so triumphantly in public.

    • marsman 3.1

      Carol, she considers it acceptable to be attached to her tazer because she is ‘a nasty piece’ as you say. She needs to brandish it in public to pretend she has some substance, like a bad actor relying on props
      to cover their ineptitude.

  4. Ed 4

    A Taser as a “cherished memento”? Really?

  5. Craig Glen Eden 5

    The taser is a weapon the same as a gun if its not registered she should be charged. I had a friend who stupidly had one ( a Taser) he got drunk on a Sat night down town Queen St he got stopped by Police and they did a search and they found the taser so it was off to see the judge and yup he got fined. Nice guy but silly actions he deserved what he got and so would Colin’s.

  6. Adrian 6

    A gun is a gun wether it is loaded or not, a knife is a knife even if it is’nt sharp. If Trevor had arrived at Sky City with either or even a uncharged Taser and asked ” Where’s Collins?’ he would be in custody now and looking at 3-5 years, but worse, Helen would have gone ballistic. He would have been safer doing the time.
    Collins has to be charged!

    • Te Reo Putake 6.1

      Helen? Who she?

    • alwyn 6.2

      Am I the only one who remembers Helen saying that she wanted to Taser Trevor?
      She said it after Trevor assaulted Tau Henare in Parliament.\
      Ballistic indeed. She would have taken it off him and applied it with great gusto.

    • David H 6.3

      The other thing is …. Did anyone look at the pics in the Herald on Sunday??? Parata looked like she had forgotten to take her vibrator out (apologies to the females here) And Bennet looked like she needed said vibrator, whilst Key just looked frumpy.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/image.cfm?c_id=280&gal_cid=280&gallery_id=126879#9340245

      • fender 6.3.1

        Great holiday snaps!

        Parata is not the full quid is she.

        Bennett upgraded to one of those vibrating compactors used for roadworks but even that failed to touch a nerve.

        Key looks seriously bored when hes not the centre of attention, and is that a “you’re crazy” face he’s sporting while looking at Len, I wonder.

        • Carol 6.3.1.1

          They all look rather constipated to me…. so much effort and energy, so little results!

  7. fender 7

    She needs it to jump start her day, works better than coffee, and has the added benefit of lifting her ass off the floor allowing her to walk.

    But seriously this woman thinks she is a law unto herself and needs to crush her ego somewhat.

  8. Jackal 8

    Mafia styles… I think she’s considerably weakened her court case.

  9. Observer AKL 9

    Whenever Ms Collins gets aroused, in or out of Conference, more confidential information is released to unsuspecting people by ACC. The correlation is disturbing.

    Her namesake Judith of Israel, cut off a grown guy’s head – after sleeping all friendly with him.

    So, if I were Mallard, I would insure my body parts.

  10. Murray Olsen 10

    At the very least, she should be asked in parliament about it. She’s one sick sadistic Tory, possibly the worst of them.

  11. Cactus Kate 11

    She’s always made it public she has a Police gifted non-operational taser.
    Bit like The Standard
    Bright, yellow and non-operational.

    • Murray Olsen 11.1

      Oops, second worst.

    • Lanthanide 11.2

      Facebook says I don’t have permission to view that link. Guess I’m not enough of a tory.

    • Tracey 11.3

      If I wave an imitation gun, non commissioned of course, around, will I be arrested??

      non operational taser – A bit like National, it looks like it will do the job but doesn’t actually do anything.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 11.4

      No such thing as a ‘non operational taser’.

      If you bought something like that through customs and said it was non operational they would say, tough it could be easily converted back and they would confiscate it on the spot.

      And the other problem is that Collins has taken it with her and ‘used it as if it was real’

      Check the law , saying its ‘broken ‘ or ‘doesnt work’ wont get you off.

  12. captain hook 12

    Hi Jack.

  13. gobsmacked 13

    Today in Parliament John Key brushed off Norman’s question about following the law by boasting that “on this side of the House” they always followed the law.

    A couple of hours later, it turns out they really don’t …

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/rebuilding-christchurch/7341007/Quake-recovery-minister-Brownlee-outside-law

    The Opposition should be able to nail Key on this (there’s always the old favourite “Does he stand by his statements?”). Then they just need to respond the way Norman did today, with a quick-thinking follow-up question of just four words. No waffle.

    Seriously, Labour MPs (and we know you read this blog), you’re given free hits all the time. When are you going to start taking them?

    You want another? Collins has responded desperately to the “Mondayize” bill, by invoking the spirit of ANZAC Day, dismissing those who “can’t get out of bed” for the commemorations.

    All you need to do is ask her if she stands by that, and then quote her colleague and neighbour Jami-Lee Ross, who claimed back expenses for going to an ANZAC Day ceremony.

    And so on, and so on …

    • Murray Olsen 13.1

      Labour act as if they want the Tories to have another term so people can see how bad they really are and never ever vote for them again. It’s not as if they’re short of ammunition to use in the house, and some of them are passably bright, so what is their problem exactly? Apart from the obvious one of wanting to represent the people who are quite happy voting National, of course.

    • Tracey 13.2

      I agree, scripted questions are all very well, but the PM works well with warning. He’s hopeless when he has to think… it’s harder to make up a lie on the spot than refer to a practiced one.

      Cullen and Clark were great thinkers on their feet….

      Russell Norman is doing a great job in this regard. The Greens are looking more and more like the only viable option for those who dont think that drilling everything and selling everything is the only way forward.

  14. Observer AKL 14

    Murray Olsen

    I feel the same as you.

    Is it a case that Labour simply hasn’t got it in them. Perhaps we are expecting too much of them given their super relaxed deck chairs.

  15. Richard Down South 15

    The police will arrest, then ‘speak to’ severely, children running around with toy guns which look semi realistic, if they get called out… so why not in this case

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