What is your weapon of choice

Policemen and their Gun: The Choice of Least Remedy

The Law on the Use of Firearms stipulates whether and when the use of a firearm is permitted. In practice, however, the regulation is not so clear.

The use of weapons within the framework of the police's compulsory powers is regulated in the Arms Use Act of 1969. According to this, the use of weapons is only permitted if non-dangerous or less dangerous measures or "available milder means" such as handcuffs seem unsuitable or ineffective. It must also be clearly indicated beforehand.

"The law is learned up and down during training and again and again later," said Cobra spokesman Detlef Polay. A weapon may only be used to make a person "incapable of attack, resistance or escape" and not to kill. In principle, use may only be made of the "least dangerous weapon that still appears suitable in the respective situation" and the expected damage may not be "obviously disproportionate to the intended success".

Before shooting: warn!

"The life-threatening use of weapons is expressly threatened immediately in advance and clearly perceptible. That can also be a warning shot," said the Cobra spokesman. In addition, bystanders should not be endangered. You learn how to use firearms intensively during training; after that, every police officer completes several shooting training sessions per year, says Polay. There are also stipulations that z. B. should first shoot in muscle parts such as in the thigh - according to the purpose of making someone incapable of attack or flight.

Unclear situation in practice

Not that easy in practice: "When the whole thing is in motion, it's easy to say, but difficult to do," said the spokesman. In addition, the expected success does not always come after a shot: Many armed men have continued to fight the police despite pepper spray and a shot in one hand. And the clear "threat" of a shot could sometimes be a problem if z. B. the person concerned is deaf and dumb. "Being in that situation requires a high level of stress resistance and stability - target practice alone isn't," said Polay.

The use of weapons associated with endangering life is only permitted "in the case of just self-defense for the defense of a person, for the suppression of an uprising or riot and for the enforcement of the arrest or prevention of the escape of a person who is a criminal offense - which can only be committed willfully and with More than one year imprisonment is threatened - is transferred or is urgently suspected, which, alone or in connection with their behavior during arrest or escape, marks them as a person generally dangerous to the security of the state, person or property ", quoted Polay paragraph seven. Furthermore, the use is permitted "to enforce the arrest or to prevent the escape of a mentally ill person who is generally dangerous to the safety of the person or property".