Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle (TASER) guns are electroshock weapons that emit electric charges to subdue the antagonist target. The force is described as "non-lethal," and is not designed to kill adversaries. These weapons carry distinct pros and cons, which vary according to the intent of the user. Taser guns, like all methods of force, continue to spark controversy.
Civilians, military and law enforcement officials use Taser guns to shock the opponent into losing temporary control of his muscle movement, in the name of self-defense. Generally, individuals that have been "tased," or shocked, with the weapon will suddenly crumple onto the ground from an upright position. Taser guns have been manufactured to carry shooting ranges of up to 35 feet.
Taser Corporation describes the force inflicted by its weapons as "neuromuscular incapacitation." Taser guns incapacitate aggressive suspects that are dangerous threats to themselves and to others. The technology is ideal for correctional officers, police, security and private citizens that want to control a combatant without actually killing him.
Pitfalls arise from the type and strength of the force necessary to stop the combatant. Weaker lines of Taser guns may not have the desired effect upon larger and stronger opponents that can fight through the electric charge. Your Taser will also be ineffective against foes that actually do carry guns, where shooting to kill may be necessary for self-defense.
Critics of Taser devices associate the weapon with torture. Victims that have been tased often scream helplessly, as the electric current radiates through their bodies. The United Nations Committee Against Torture has ruled that Taser weapons "provoke extreme pain" and violate international agreements against torture.
Users of Taser guns must make the right judgment call between escaping danger and the excessive force that injures, or even kills the opponent through associated health complications.
Taser guns have been linked to hundreds of deaths worldwide; and the U.S. Department of Justice documented 63 Taser-related deaths in 2003. All fatalities may be described as accidental because Tasers have been designed for nonlethal force. Tasers are not drawn to kill, intentionally.
U.C. San Francisco cardiologists Byron Lee and Zian Tseng indicate that aiming the charge too close to the heart leads to cardiac arrest and death.
"The Taser shoots pulses several times per second. Those pulses can actually overtake the heart and cause a heart rate that's 250 to 300 beats per minute," said Tseng.
In June 2009, the Moberly, Missouri municipal government agreed to pay a $2.4 million wrongful death settlement to the family of Stanley Harlan. Harlan was "tased" three times during a 2008 traffic stop before collapsing and dying of cardiac arrest.
Taser users open themselves up to controversy from all angles. You must first identify the opponent as an actual threat, prior to measuring the correct amount of force to subdue him and avoid danger. Security, crime, self-defense and punishment are all distinct ideas open to interpretation within a court of law. Further, separate movements have emerged to ban Taser guns in Canada, Australia, New York City and Baltimore County, Maryland.
Americans associate Taser controversy with Andrew Meyer's "don't Tase me, bro'" pleadings at a 2007 Constitution Day forum delivered by John Kerry at the University of Florida campus. Meyer became belligerent at the rally; and was escorted out of the building with Taser force.