An image of a homemade stun gun is being circulated on anti-lockdown social media groups, VICE News has found.
The original photo of the stun gun, which appears to be constructed from cables and a small circuit board, was shared on a private Telegram group dedicated to vigilante policing. A screen-grabbed image of the gun, along with the chat members’ responses, was then shared to another Telegram group, which focuses on anti-lockdown and 5G conspiracy theory material.
In the screen-grab from the original Telegram group, several members can be seen to express support for the weapon. One calls the image “badass” and then asks, “can you make more of them?” Facebook profiles that correspond to the names in the group suggest that both the member who shared the photo and those that responded are based in the US.
It is impossible to verify whether the stun gun shared on these Telegram groups functions, or how dangerous it would be if discharged. However it is not unusual for extremist groups to experiment with homemade weapons.
“Stun guns incorporate capacitors to produce very high voltages, but low amperages,” David Dyson, firearms consultant and barrister told VICE News. “There are many websites that provide information on how to make these things, and whether they work or not is something that you can only tell with certainty if it can be seen to discharge electricity. This would usually be evidenced by blue sparks arcing between two electrodes.”
Anti-lockdown protests have become increasingly violent in recent months as governments across the world continue to enforce social distancing measures. Hundreds were arrested in Berlin in August when a rally against pandemic restrictions saw far-right agitators attempt to storm the Reichstag, while 16 arrests were made in central London last month when police clashed with anti-lockdown demonstrators. Another protest is set to take place this weekend in London, organised by StandUpX – a group that is against masks, coronavirus testing and vaccines.
A growing QAnon presence in Europe may have also increased violent tendencies within the anti-lockdown movement. The conspiracy theory, which centres on belief in a secret paedophile ring, has been linked to multiple arrests and armed stand-offs in the US, and is deemed a serious threat to national security by terrorism experts.
VICE News approached the National Crime Agency for comment, but had not received a response at the time of publishing.