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A Taser gun
A Taser gun

Taser is an acronym for Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle. It is named after the fictional character Tom Swift.


[edit] What is a Taser?

A Taser is a generally non-lethal stun weapon that delivers a shock by shooting two barbed darts that are attached to the gun by wires into a person's skin. When the probes attach to the skin they release electric pulses for a few seconds, causing the muscles to contract uncontrollably and stunning the person. The shock also can be delivered by direct contact (like a stun gun) by placing the two electrodes on the person to be overcome. The electrical pulse immobilizes a person in less that half a second; the person is incapacitated for several minutes. The guns can shoot up to 30 feet, and can penetrate clothing.

[edit] The Palo Alto Taser Task Force

Proposals to purchase Tasers for the Palo Alto Police Department, and heated protests of the idea, reignited in Dec., 2006. The department had laid low on the request following controversy generated two years before. An official Taser task force was set up, composed of members of the community, department, civil-rights and law-enforcement groups, and others. It was charged with studying the merits of purchasing the weapons. On April 10, 2007 the Task Force recommended by a 7 to 2 vote that the Palo Alto City Council authorize the use of Tasers by the city's police department, but only after police received special training. In May, 2007, the Palo Alto City council approved the use of Tasers for Palo Alto police officers by a 5-4 vote.

[edit] Discussion

Arguments in support of police use of Tasers include:

  • Tasers are safer than guns in controlling dangerous individuals. Instead of having to shoot a threatening person with a bullet - risking lethal injury - the person can be shot by a Taser to subdue him, with less risk to life.
  • Tasers provide a way to avoid direct physical contact with a combative individual, an added protection for both the officer and the citizen. Tasers enable police to control physically stronger and larger subjects.

Arguments against police use of Tasers include:

  • Tasers are deadly weapons that have killed people and not enough independent medical research has been done to determine who is vulnerable.
  • Tasers are portable, easy to use, and deliver intense shock at the push of a button without leaving a substantial mark. Consequently, there is risk of overuse and abuse. (See this Berkeley article)
  • They are not necessary in low crime-rate cities (like Palo Alto)
  • Tasers deliver an intense and painful shock that could be considered a human rights violation.

[edit] External Links

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