The salient benefit of Tasers is that they give police offers the ability to restrain violent people without having to kill them. This eliminates the fear of stray bullets killing or injuring innocent bystanders. The absence of this weapon may necessitate higher levels of force, for instance the firearm. As RCMP Cpl. Greg Gillis, a trainer on Taser use puts it, with the firearm only two outcomes are possible – either permanent injury or death (CBC News, 2009). Steve Palmer, the Canadian Police Research Center (CPRS) executive director, adds to these sentiments by concentrating on the number of lives saved following the use of the Taser.
The devices are functional at longer distances in comparison to mace and pepper sprays. They can be directed at any part of the body, not necessarily the eyes like the other two options mentioned. Despite the insistence by Taser companies that the devices produced are the safest option available, the voice from critics is that there has not been enough research geared towards the safety of Tasers. Amnesty International states that from the period between 2001 and 2008, August, 334 Americans passed on as a consequence of Taser shocks.
Moreover, most of the suspects involved were not armed and were subjected to prolonged or repeated shocks. A statement released by the UN Committee Against Torture in November 2007, revealed that using X26 Tasers, provoking excessive pain was essentially an instance of torture with in specific cases had the capacity of causing death. (CBC News, 2009). In June the following year, Taser International finally lost a civil suit and was instructed to pay reparation in damages amounting to over $6 million. This was in relation to the demise of Heston Robert, a 40-year old man who was zapped thrice.
The company negligently failed to inform police of the increased risk of falling into cardiac arrest, following prolonged use of Tasers. This is just one of a number of legal tussles involving the impact of Tasers on health. That said, Dr. William Bozeman, lead investigator and medicine specialist at Wake Forest School of Medicine begs to differ, stating that injury rates linked to Taser use are low, most injuries being minor.
He uses this to indicate the safety of the said devices. Statistics obtained based on 1,000 cases showed that 99.7% of people subjected to Tasers shocks had relatively mild injuries for instance bruises and scrapes or none at all. Only three people, 0. 3% suffered injuries with the severity to warrant hospitalization. Even though two subjects passed away, autopsy reports showed that in either case, the Taser was not culpable; two head injuries as a result of falls and a medical an unrelated medical condition were the causes (Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center 2007). In the discussion of non-lethal law enforcement weapons, Tasers are the most effective option available.
However, the need for effective training prior to handling these 50,000 volt weapons cannot be overemphasized (Vereckey, 2005). This applies particularly to civilian. Allowing the use of Taser in preference to hand guns offers greater reinforcement to the Second Amendment, giving people the ability to defend themselves and their property without causing loss of other lives. Policy issues such as where such devices may be carried must be ironed out to ensure all-round safety and responsibility.
The National Institute of Justice has an important role to play in this respect. Periodic license reviews may be one avenue authorities may pursue in ensuring Tasers are in the correct hands. These devices are a culmination of decades of studies, with a close eye on military applications. From the issues discussed, it is clear that further research is necessary in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders. Only then will the dream of “wars without death” come to fruition.
References: Barnes, S. (2009) Tasers and Non-Lethal Stun Weapons (emdt). Retrieved April 7, 2009, from http://www. streetdirectory. com/travel_guide/61026/home_security/tasers_an _non_lethal_stun_weapons_emdt. html CBC News. (2009, March 31). Taser FAQs. CBCnews. ca. Retrieved April 6, 2009, from http://www. cbc. ca/canada/story/2009/03/18/f-taser-faq. html Neil D. (2006). The Early History of “Non-Lethal” Weapons. Retrieved April 7, 2009, from http://www. bradford. ac. uk/acad/nlw/research_reports/docs/BNLWRP_OP1_ ec06. pdf Neil D. (2006). The Early History of “Non-Lethal” Weapons. Retrieved April 7, 2009, from http://www.bradford. ac. uk/acad/nlw/research_reports/docs/BNLWRP_OP1_ ec06. pdf Vereckey, B. (2005). U. S. law enforcement praise TASER despite safety concerns.
Retrieved April 7, 2009, from http://www. policeone. com/police-products/less lethal/articles/116567-U-S-law-enforcement-praise-TASER-despite-safety concerns/ Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (2007, October 9). Tasers Used By Law Enforcement Are Safe, Review Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 6, 2009, from http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/2007/10/071008080329. htm