Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What a shock!*

The makers of the Taser made a stunning announcement last week.  (Horrible pun, I know, but I just couldn't stop myself.)  They are now advising police agencies across the country that their stun gun should not be aimed at chests because there is a slight, tiny, minuscule, eensy-weensy risk of an "adverse cardiac event." 

Thank you so much, Taser International, for finally admitting what all the rest of us figured out a long time ago: jolting people with electricity can screw with their hearts!  (But did you have to wait until there was a big enough pile of dead bodies before you would put a warning in your training materials?)

I'm not really opposed to police forces using the taser, as long as they're using it the way it was intended: to replace the gun in situations where lethal force is justified.  It was originally pitched as something that would cut down on deaths.  Obviously, shooting people with a stun gun instead of a real gun is preferable to me.  But the taser has been used in far too many non-lethal situations, to command obedience or to short-cut a situation that is testing the officer's patience. Police have let themselves feel a little too free to use the taser. 

Maybe if Taser International had been more upfront about the possible risks involved with the product, instead of doggedly claiming it was totally safe with no risk of death, police agencies wouldn't have gotten quite so casual in their uses of the taser.  I now optimistically, but probably naively, choose to believe that the switch in Taser's training materials might cause some police agencies to rethink their willingness to break out the stun gun.  So maybe we won't have to hear as many stories about the taser being used on grandmas during traffic stops or epileptics having seizures or men having cardiac events

*Again, please excuse the pun.  It's really rich territory.

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