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Austrian cop denied right to carry gun off-duty

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Austrian cop denied right to carry gun off-duty
Photo: APA (Gindl)
13:53 CET+01:00
According to an official ruling of the Tyrolean Provincial Administrative Court just before Christmas, police officers in that state do not automatically have the right to carry a gun when off-duty, even if they feel threatened.

The court was considering two requests -- one from a Tyrolean mountain guard, and the other from a regular police officer who normally carries a weapon when on-duty, according to a report in the Tiroler Tageszeitung newspaper on Monday.

In the case of the mountain guard, the district's Administrative Authority had already ruled that carrying a weapon while working as a 'mountain guard' was not required, and therefore the request was declined on the grounds of 'security risks.'  The court confirmed the decision by the authority.

The court did however give permission for the mountain guard to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, in order to definitively decide whether mountain guards - whose main job is mountain rescue - faced special risks while carrying out their duties that might require the use of deadly force.

The court held that speculation and fears of possible threats were not in themselves enough to constitute a risk requiring mountain guards to be armed.

In the case of the policeman, the request for a private gun license involved threats from a Slovak man, who injured and threatened the policeman while the latter was carrying out his duties.

Because the Slovak man was in possession of the policeman's phone number and home address, and due to receiving threatening calls and visits from the man, the policeman felt that he was justified in requesting access to a weapon while off-duty, to protect himself and his family.

The state's Administrative tribunal found that the policeman's statements were too vague and speculative.  They felt that this line of justification would apply not only to many police officers, but also to other officials working for local authorities.  Such workers would constantly be exposed to low-level threats and potentially hazardous situations - but if they were truly threatened, they could themselves call the police, who had the relevant training and experience to deal with such situations.

"The adoption of a requirement based on [such justification] would also mean that all employees of a police station, who would have to constantly deal with difficult parties, could request a gun for protection", said the court in its ruling.
 
Therefore, the court ruled that off-duty policemen do not have the right to carry a private weapon, even if they felt threatened.
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