GEORGE TOWN • It is shockingly easy to buy a stun gun in Malaysia, even though it is illegal to own one without a permit.
Stun guns are available at night markets and electronics shops in Penang and can be bought for as little as RM40 (S$13).
But while these electroshock weapons are meant for self-defence, such as to incapacitate assailants, criminals are also finding them useful.
Last Sunday, robbers immobilised a woman with a stun gun here before stealing her handbag.
A check by The Star last Tuesday revealed just how easy it is to buy the gadget. Just an hour of inquiries led to information about a wholesaler in George Town's heritage enclave.
The wholesaler led the undercover journalists to a shelf near the shop's entrance on which were about 50 boxes of stun guns.
"I have two models, 800 Type is RM40 and 669 Type is RM50. If you buy only one, I give RM1 discount. If you buy a dozen, I give half-price," the wholesaler said.
A dog trainer, who declined to be named, confessed that he bought one for dog obedience training last year.
"I tried it on my leg for a split second and got a good jolt. To immobilise people, I think you will need to shock them for several seconds on the neck or chest," the trainer said.
Unlike tasers, which fire electrode projectiles with connecting wires, stun guns must be pressed against the target.
When the stun gun's electrodes are pressed against a person, it delivers an electric shock to the body that affects the nervous system, causing muscle spasms, loss of balance and disorientation.
One importer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said unscrupulous importers have for years been declaring stun guns as torches to get past the Royal Malaysian Customs Department.
Nearly all stun guns come with an LED light to provide a torch function, with some looking exactly like torches.
"There are hundreds of containers coming into Malaysia every day and it is not humanly possible for Customs officers to inspect every single item in every container," said the importer.
The deputy director of the Federal Criminal Investigation Department, Deputy Commissioner Amar Singh, said that under the law, no one, except a licensed dealer or repairer, should sell or transfer any weapon or ammunition .
No one, he added, should knowingly accept any delivery of arms or ammunition unless he has a valid licence for such a transaction.
Offenders can be jailed for up to two years or fined not more than RM2,000, or both.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK