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"Reality"-based. - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Nov. 30th, 2004

02:07 pm - "Reality"-based.

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Medical examiners have found that Taser electric stun guns may have played a role in at least five deaths, contradicting the manufacturer's claim that the weapons never killed or injured anyone, a newspaper reported Sunday.

[...]

Smith said the report didn't need actual autopsies to prove Tasers are not lethal.

"I know in my heart what the truth is," Smith says. "Taser hasn't killed any of these people."


Tasers kill.

EDIT: Amnesty International report on Taser use by US law enforcement

Comments:

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From:skywind8
Date:November 30th, 2004 08:42 pm (UTC)
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I mourn the loss of rational thinking, which has apparently been replaced nationwide by misleading advertising and politics. Oh, I know not everyone believes what the taser rep says, but I'm scared by the number who might.
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From:meekay
Date:November 30th, 2004 08:57 pm (UTC)
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In the hands of a person with lethal intent, anything can contribute to a homicide. Overall, I feel better about people carrying tazers than firearms.
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From:ddbrown
Date:November 30th, 2004 09:14 pm (UTC)
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Unfortunately, when you have alledgedly non-lethal weaponry, you are more likely to use it. There are situations where an officer would be hesitant to use a firearm (for fear that the situation isn't quite at the point of justifying killing someone), but will use a taser - beause after all, they cause no lasting harm, right?

I'd still rather see primarily non-lethal weaponry in the hands of the police than nothing but guns, but there needs to be a recognition that these are not "safe" by any means, and can in fact kill. Having that recognition, we need to incorporate it into law officer training.
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From:meekay
Date:November 30th, 2004 09:16 pm (UTC)
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Agreed, a non-lethal weapon is still a weapon.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 30th, 2004 09:30 pm (UTC)
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We need to stop calling it "non-lethal" weaponry (an industry term) and call it what it is "less-lethal" weaponry. I make this mistake all the time.

Another danger with tasers as a primary weapon is that there is almost no evidence of their use after a few days other than the internal audit record kept inside the gun itself. You have to trust the cops to be honest about the contents of that internal record and you have to trust that it can't be disabled. The only physical evidence is a couple of pin-pricks where the probes latch into the skin. Those heal eventually.

With a gun there are physical forensic means of testing for discharge, of matching the bullet to the gun, and of course a bullet wound is unmistakable on the victim. Cops face serious consequences for misusing their firearms and so they think twice before doing so. Cops can get in big trouble for even DRAWING their gun at an inappropriate time. Not so for tasers.

Drawing a taser and aiming it at a person should be treated as use of deadly force by an officer and that action should have to be justified in the same way use of a gun is justified.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 30th, 2004 09:23 pm (UTC)
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Do you think that these cops would have resorted to using their guns on these children if they didn't have tasers? In the case of the 6 year old kid with a shard of glass, I suspect the cops would have simply grabbed the kids arm. I mean if you can't overpower a 6-year old without harm coming to either you or the kid then you need more training.

Do you think these cops would have fired indiscriminantly into crowds of innocent people if all they had were guns?

Less-lethal weaponry is used way more often, way more agressively, and with way less responsibility by officers than it should be. If you put it in their hands and tell them that it is not deadly then they will use it.

I don't mind giving cops tasers as a tool in some situations. It is a far better tool than a gun and it has some applications. But the use of tasers should be as carefully monitored as the use of guns. It should be as much paperwork and justification neccessary for a cop to pull a taser on someone as it is to pull a gun on them. Instead cops are trained to resort to taser usage for the slimmest of reasons on the basis that they don't kill. Well...they do.
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From:meekay
Date:November 30th, 2004 09:32 pm (UTC)
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I agree that tazers are weapons and that they should be treated as such. I still think it's far better than the alternative.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:November 30th, 2004 09:55 pm (UTC)
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I'm going to need more data before I know it is better than the alternative. It isn't as if these cops don't have guns on them. If they want to use lethal force they can, but now they have the option to also use less-lethal force. I think the overall force deployed by cops is therefore higher, which indicates to me that the overall intimidation, chilling-effect, injury, and death rates probably all go up when Tasers are introduced into the equation.

I suspect that cops are not pulling tasers on people they used to pull guns on. I suspect that cops still pull their guns on people that they used to pull guns on, and so those incidents haven't changed. I suspect that cops now ALSO pull tasers on a whole new group of people that they formerly either let get away (because they weren't really so much of a threat) or attempted to physically subdue.

It'd be nice to see more data and study on this. It'd be even nicer if police departments did these studies BEFORE believing the marketting lies of the manufacturer and arming their entire force with these potentially deadly and definitely terror-inducing weapons.

I am much more scared, as an innocent bystander, of being harmed by a cop now than I used to be. The chances of me being tasered, as an innocent bystander, are higher than they were when cops didn't have tasers. The chances of me being shot by a cop have not changed. This has an unacceptable chilling effect on my legal and constitutionally sanctified free speech activities.
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From:skywind8
Date:November 30th, 2004 11:06 pm (UTC)
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"I am much more scared, as an innocent bystander, of being harmed by a cop now than I used to be."

This is the part that scares me too.
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