Tasers are, far too frequently, overused, misused and abused.
They're often described as "less lethal", which leads to the obvious question: Less lethal than what?
The obvious answer is 'guns'. In fact, providing an alternative to guns was the original promise (even according to the official corporate founding fables). But they're not often used to replace more lethal forms of force (guns); they're far more often used to replace lower (and arguably safer) forms of force.
The arguments about 'safety' can be sidetracked by rates of injury, as opposed to rates of death. I can't speak for others, but I've always considered death to a more important consideration than injuries.
Taser International expends huge amounts of time, money, and effort in addressing the question of taser safety. Some of their approaches have been short-sighted, of questionable ethical standard, thus damaging to their own reputation, and extremely counter-productive with respect to their own goals. Some of their methods could only have been suggested by imbeciles.
The direction of history is crystal clear. From the RCMP Watchdog, to the Braidwood Inquiry, to the Maryland Attorney General, to the 9th Circuit Court - everyone that studies the issue and is honest comes to the same conclusion: tasers are being overused, and the Taser Use policies governing their use must be tightened up.
The concept of overuse naturally encompasses the concepts of misuse and abuse. If the issue of overuse can be addressed, then perhaps (in an ideal world) the misuse and abuse will be exposed for what they are.
For this reason, the recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court is probably the biggest news on this aspect. In essence, the court noted that the taser is a serious, excruciatingly painful, and potentially dangerous weapon. For these self-evident reasons, they concluded that the days of using the taser as a handy-dandy human cattle-prod should be brought to an end.
Those new to the discussion have some homework to do. Look up the Glowing Cigarette Challenge and write an essay explaining, logically, why you believe that tasers are a legal form of electro-torture and using the glowing end of a burning cigarette wouldn't be legal. Look up the applicable posts for complete details.
On the subject of Taser International's claims that tasers cannot possibly cause death, their arguments are getting more and more stale.
I for one, and I'm sure I'm not alone, would love to see some hard statistical evidence that there is no significant difference in the death rate (from any cause) per deployment between the M26 taser introduced in 1999, and the X26 taser introduced in 2003. The limited data I've seen indicates that there might just be a significant difference.
If such a delta can be confirmed, then make sure that you're sitting down when Taser International tries to explain it away.
I've made many posts on this subject, including some critical technical observations about the taser waveforms, and tracking the long term trajectory of their technical claims.
The most recent finding relating to the safety claims was made by the Maryland Attorney General. Their report included the determination that Taser International has "significantly" understated the risks of taser use. Read that again. "Significantly" understated the risks.
Those false claims that "tasers-R-safe" leads directly to overuse.
The conclusion that the safety claims are false provides additional support for significantly tightening the Taser Use Policies.
It's like a circle.
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