Stun guns are dangerous alternatives

Further training would help prevent senseless Taser abuse.

Tasers are said to be the answer for police officials. They debilitate resistant criminals and retain an officer’s control during an apprehension. Tasers have also been named as an attributing factor and, in some cases, direct cause for the deaths of hundreds of people. As Taser use has become more prevalent in the past few years, an important question arises: are Tasers safe? Who is at risk when they are used?

Tasers, also known as stun guns, are intended as a self-defense tool that sends electric voltage through a wire anchored underneath the skin. Many have praised these electroshock guns. More than 7,000 police officers nationwide are equipped with these once-unknown weapons, according to Taser International, the Arizona-based company that produces almost all stun gun devices used today. The company also claims that they are “saving lives every day,” but what is the real cost of these “nonlethal” weapons? The use of shock devices has dramatically increased in past years, and while some believe that serious injuries have been avoided because of their use, it is also true that Tasers have been overly and irresponsibly deployed.

Some of the shocking cases concerning the abuse of Tasers are as follow: An 18-year-old was Tasered after he told the police to get out of his house, then later he was hit again after complying with orders to put his hands up in the air. In Arizona, a suspect was Tasered four times when he refused to give blood after a court order. A pregnant woman was shocked in the abdomen during a domestic dispute in which she had no part in the physical violence. Two days after the use of the Taser, she gave birth to a stillborn.

Developing nonlethal weapons is very important to saving lives and preventing serious injuries to both the officer and the suspect, but Taser use needs to be evaluated more thoroughly. Further training needs to be given so that unarmed civilians are not involved in senseless abuse. Taser use may seem like an easy solution to the growing problem of crime, but we must evaluate its risks before deploying it onto a community.

Katie Nelson is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected].