Taser gun debate: experts fear abuse of power by the police

One critic says officers are “not trained to use any weapon reasonably”

Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta announced this week the arrival of 60 Taser guns to be used by Buenos Aires City Police. This comes after years of resistance from the national government and human rights advocates. 

The Herald spoke to different experts about whether Taser guns should be used or not. They all agreed the main problem is the lack of training of the police force, which can lead to abuse and brutality, something that has already happened in the past. 

Marcelo Sain, former Santa Fe Security Minister and security expert, told the Herald he believes Taser guns are a helpful resource to de-escalate or neutralice a potentially violent situation, but must be used carefully. “The debate is not about any specific tool, but rather the way police officers use them.” 

“They’re not trained to use any weapon reasonably. Not just stun guns – regular guns (bullet guns) are literally small canyons. That’s what policemen carry around every single day. We’re going to discuss Taser guns but not that?,” he added. 

“Some officers have to use them, especially those on the streets, but only under certain circumstances. A police officer’s duty is to prevent harm in public spaces,” said Sain. “The issue is part of a broader question: the use of force by the police – all concerns about Taser guns are also valid for guns in general,” he added. 

While stun guns are expected to be out on the streets in the upcoming days, sources who spoke to the Herald believe some previous steps should be required before officers actually use them. 

“The entire country has a serious police abuse problem – before introducing new weapons, it’s crucial to reiterate instructions and trainings, create protocols and conduct serious and transparent auditings,” Victoria Darraidou, from the Legal and Social Research Center (CELS), a local human rights watchdog organization that published a Twitter thread on Taser guns this week, told the Herald. “Their implementation in the US shows that officers use them in the wrong situations, when they are not needed.” 

“Taser guns are promoted as non-lethal weapons when, in reality, they are just less-lethal weapons,” said the statement. 

The BA city government and the national administration have fought over their use and import permission for almost 15 years – stun guns were first introduced in 2009, when Mauricio Macri was mayor. They were later banned in 2010 after a lawsuit presented by human rights activists, and restored in 2015. 

Following its arrival to the Casa Rosada in 2019, the Alberto Fernández administration repealed Macri’s Taser protocol. 

Rodríguez Larreta had sought to import them since 2019, but the national government prevented him from obtaining the necessary import permits and authorizations. The Buenos Aires City administration government has acquired sixty 400-volt taser guns, and is expecting to buy 30 more in the upcoming months.


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