|Thursday, 04 October 2012 10:26|
PETALING JAYA: Gun licence conditions imposed on bodyguards to only use their weapons to protect their employers and family members in times of danger are merely to prohibit their arbitrary use.
Senior criminal practitioner Datuk Muhammad Shafie Abdullah said yesterday that bodyguards should not be confused by the stipulated conditions as the law also allowed citizens to protect one another, including the use of weapons when in danger and to prevent a crime from occurring.
He said the use of force, however, had to be proportionate to the threat or danger at hand.
"These bodyguards may be confused in some of the licensing documents for gun possession. There may be a condition for self-protection or self-defence with regards to the employer but that is a misleading statement," he said.
"The endorsement was placed by the licensing body from brandishing weapons as they (bodyguards) like."
Muhammad Shafee was commenting on The Malay Mail's report yesterday that two armed bodyguards of a businessman did not do anything to prevent a woman from being robbed by four men in broad daylight.
The snatch theft occurred outside the businessman's house in Jalan 6/1 here, and although the businessman shouted to his bodyguards to fire a warning shot, the armed men did not do anything.
The two bodyguards then cited provisions in a handbook issued by the Home Ministry whereby their weapons were only to be used against aggressors who posed a danger to their employer or the employer's family members.
Muhammad Shafee said the Penal Code clearly stipulated that every citizen could extend "proportional physical action" to prevent a crime from being committeed.
"People who are in position to protect a weaker member of society must do so without any special laws being enacted, provided their action must be proportionate to the aggression and threat," he said.
"Therefore, there are several steps. If a citizen sees danger to the life of another person, in the case of a gun owner, the weapon owner can fire warning shots if he is able to do so, and if the warning is ignored by the aggressor, and there is danger to the victim's life, the weapon holder could use the weapon to shoot the aggressor initially at non-fatal parts, for instance the legs or arms.
"But if the danger to the victim is perceived to result in immediate death or serious injury to the victim, then the person with the weapon can shoot to kill the aggressor purely to avert the bigger danger."
He said the precendent for such a circumstance was provided by the case of senior lawyer Datuk Balwant Singh.
Balwant shot dead despatch rider R. Gobala Krishnan when the latter confronted the lawyer with a stick in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, in June 2002 after a traffic accident.
Muhammad Shafee said although Balwant's case dealt with self-defence, the principles inunsiated in the case applied with equal force to the concept of the defence of others.
He said public policy demanded the necessity for such a law as it encouraged society to have in-built protection within its members.
Muhammad Shafee said it also helped to combat crime as police could not solely shoulder crime prevention.
A senior police officer said, although the bodyguards' non-involvement was correct by law, "a professional trained bodyguard should by right have fired a warning shot to scare away the robbers".
"It depends on the situation they are in... when you know that by firing a warning shot you can save a person's live, then isn't it the right thing to do?" he asked.
"This is issue is not new. Previously, there were suggestions to give firearms to Rela officers and even council enforcement officers, but because they are not experienced in handling firearms, the idea was dropped."
- The Malay Mail