Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta announced the arrival of 60 Tasers for use by the Buenos Aires City Police, after years of resistance from the national government.
Rodríguez Larreta presented the non-lethal weapons at the Urban Monitoring Centre (CMU) in Chacarita, accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Felipe Miguel, and city government security officials.
“Security is a basic right and is the necessary condition for a life in freedom”, Rodríguez Larreta said, adding that the City invests in training, equipment and state-of-the-art technology “so that police officers have the best tools and are protected when they go out to risk their lives”.
Presented as “non-lethal weapons”, Tasers are a brand of stun gun used to deliver electric shocks, causing paralysis. They can also be pressed onto a person’s body to cause acute pain. In both cases, their use aims to immobilize the individual so they can be handcuffed, arrested, or otherwise prevented from causing harm.
The BA city government and the national administration have fought over their use and permission to import them for almost 15 years – stun guns were first brought to the city in 2009, while Mauricio Macri was mayor. They were banned after a lawsuit introduced by human rights activists, and restored in 2015.
Upon arrival in Casa Rosada in 2019, the Alberto Fernández administration repealed Macri’s Taser protocol.
The Mayor has sought to import them since 2019, but the national government has prevented him from obtaining the necessary import permits and authorizations. Now, the local government has acquired sixty 400-volt taser guns, and is expecting to buy 30 more in the upcoming months.
Patricia Bullrich, Macri’s former security minister, is currently a frontrunner in this year’s presidential elections, and has been a vocal advocate for Tasers. During the summer, as the city government waited for authorization to use them, Bullrich said: “There’s a Supreme Court ruling authorizing the use of Tasers. Instead of asking for permission so much from the government, which always says no to you on purpose, I would say to Horacio: make the decision [to use them].”
Larreta is her rival for the presidential nomination within opposition coalition Juntos por el Cambio, and he has portrayed himself as more moderate than Bullrich’s hardline security policies.
After acquiring 100 Tasers for the Federal Police in late February, the national government authorized Rodríguez Larreta to import stun guns in March.
International human rights organizations including the United Nations Human Rights office, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have published reports warning of the risk of severe injury or death from Tasers. They have reportedly been used as a torture method against migrants at borders, detainees, protestors, and people with mental disabilities, among others.
In 2019, a Reuters investigation reported that Tasers have caused over 1,000 deaths in the United States, where they have been permitted since the early 2000s.
“If I’m elected president, I’m going to make this tech available to every provincial and national police force,” said Rodríguez Larreta during his press conference this morning. “We need a government that’s tough on crime.”