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MP Tyszka: “In Poland you can’t even buy a bulletproof vest or a helmet.” We check

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According to the MP from the Confederation, Stanisław Tyszka, it is impossible to buy a bulletproof vest or a helmet in Poland. The experts we talked to say that there is no problem with buying this type of equipment in Poland.

Stanisław Tyszka, MP of the Confederation on June 25 in the program “Coffee on the bench” on TVN24 criticized the way crisis management was organized in Poland in context “Justice March” on Moscow mercenaries from the Wagner Group. “It [zarządzanie kryzysowe] unfortunately, it practically does not exist. Firstly, the so-called civil defense was abolished by the act on defense of the homeland. It had not functioned well before, but nothing has been created in return. (…) In 2020, the president signed a new national security strategy. I read it today, on page fifteen there is talk of universal defence. Nothing has happened since then, for three years,” assessed Tyszka and continued: “Minister Czarnek’s pseudo-reform in terms of education for security – did not bring anything new when it comes to educating young people in this direction. In Poland, you can’t even buy a bulletproof vest or a helmet. So, in general, Poland is not ready in terms of crisis management for situations that may occur” – he concluded.

In Poland, for example, employees of humanitarian organizations who help in places of armed conflicts, journalists traveling to such places, employees of security agencies, or ordinary people who simply want to feel safer may want to buy a bulletproof vest and a helmet. We checked whether they can actually go to the store and buy what they need in stores or online.

Who can buy military or police selection?

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According to Art. 61 section 8 of the act on conducting business activity in the field of manufacturing and trading in explosives, weapons, ammunition and products and technology for military or police purposes products for military or police purposes it is sold, inter alia, to: – entrepreneurs holding a license to conduct business activity in the field of manufacturing or trading in products for military or police purposes; – the army, Polish services and armed formations; – managers or lessees of hunting districts, members of the Polish Hunting Association who have a permit to use weapons for hunting purposes, as well as licenses to conduct hunting – only in the field of sound suppressors (bang); – other entities whose access to products for military or police purposes is regulated by separate provisions – under the conditions specified therein.

“The catalog referred to applies to the sale of all products for military or police purposes and is a closed catalog. It should be emphasized that natural persons have not been mentioned in it” – he emphasized at the beginning of 2022 in response to a parliamentary interpellation Bartosz Grodecki, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of the Interior and Administration. At the same time, he added that the act also provides that, among other things, bulletproof vests and helmets can also be sold to “entrepreneurs who have a license to conduct business activity in the field of personal and property protection services, and to entrepreneurs or organizational units who, on the basis of separate regulations, have established internal security services, and schools educating in the profession of a physical security worker of persons and property, as well as entrepreneurs conducting training activities for persons applying for entry on the list of qualified physical security workers.

Who can buy a choice intended for the civilian market?

The above-mentioned regulations apply only and exclusively to the sale of products for military or police purposes. Meanwhile, Deputy Minister Grodecki informs in the same answer to the interpellation that: “bullet-proof vests and ballistic plates that have not been designed and manufactured solely for military or police purposes, in accordance with the technical specification and specific defense standards, due to their intended use, are not subject to rationing resulting from the provisions of the Act on the performance of economic activity in the field of production and trade in explosives, weapons, ammunition and products and technology for military or police purposes.

What does it mean? – Anyone can buy bulletproof vests, helmets and other products intended for the civilian market. When it comes to equipment for strictly military and police purposes, the market is rationed. This means that legally an ordinary citizen will not get it – explains Paweł Mehl, an attorney specializing, among others, in matters related to the Act on Weapons and Ammunition (emphasis in bold) in an interview with Konkret24.

Unclear law. Problem with definitions

The snag is that, according to the experts we spoke to, there is no clear definition of what exactly military or police products are. The act only states that “these are products designed for military or police purposes”. There is also no definition of products for civil purposes. – The dividing line that this act puts in the matter of ballistic shields is absurd. The border is artificial and inaccurately defined – says Konkret24 Grzegorz Cieślak, an expert in anti-terrorist prevention and prevention at the Center for Research on Social and Economic Risks at Collegium Civitas. It indicates that there are no other objective characteristics that would distinguish these two types of products. – When a manufacturer trades with the army or services, he defines his choices as military or police. However, when these products are sold by a shop where ordinary people buy, he defines them as civilian – notes the expert. – Vests and helmets licensed from those produced for civilian use do not differ in any way and it is the manufacturer who decides about their purpose – tells us Gen. Roman Polko, former commander of the GROM Military Unit.

– There is a belief that vests for military purposes are category III and higher on a six-point bulletproof scale – Cieślak tells us. Higher-end ballistic shields may also be intended for the military market, which will differ from civilian ones in the degree of protection and the material from which the ballistic inserts are made. – For example, for a civilian user, we have kevlar inserts. Military services and licensed entities have the option of using Kevlar, ceramic and even polyethylene inserts – explains attorney Mehl. However, the above is not the rule. – I know a shop where anyone on the street can buy vests with the highest bulletproof category, but defined as civilian – reveals Cieślak. – I don’t know any limitations. There are many offers on the internet. However, an ordinary citizen cannot buy equipment characteristic of a given formation that could mislead someone, e.g. uniforms or T-shirts with the inscription “police” – explains Mariusz Sokołowski, a long-time police officer, former spokesman for the Chief Police Commander, currently a lecturer at the Department Internal Security of the University of Warsaw.

Helmet and vest are free to buy

We called one of the stationary military stores. We asked if we could buy body armor and helmets. We heard that yes, but for civilian use. When asked how they differ from the “military” ones, the seller briefly said: “Nothing.” And he added that he is not the one who creates absurd regulations.

We checked the offers of various online stores offering military items online. Most sell multiple models of both body armor and helmets. We can easily add them to the basket and buy. With some of the offers posted on auction portals, we see reservations that the products sold are intended for the civilian market or that they are collector’s items.

– These sellers want to be absolutely in order with the regulations and do not want to have any trouble with the law – believes Cieślak. – It can be seen, however, that there are no problems with buying a bulletproof vest or a helmet in Poland, and in accordance with the regulations.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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