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Tasers: Additional Violence in Police Arsenals

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Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights. (From the public domain.)

Violence begets violence. If you disagree, ask the Hatfields and McCoys.

During the John Kerry tasergate, the UCLA tasergate, and the Ohio tasergate (in the state of Kent Stategate), numerous commenters on blogs and online news websites proclaimed that the police must be obeyed, and that tasing is about law and order. Fortunately, plenty of people do not buy such arguments.

Tasing is violent, and only adds violence to police arsenals. Without tasers, we likely would see more police patience and, consequently, less violence. Tasers might obtain quick compliance in the short run and might be more sexy than patience. However, in the end, patience and non-violence is the better route. Gandhi knew that; so did Martin Luther King, Jr.

The United States Justice Department funded a study at Wake Forest University (how reliable and objective is the study, seeing that it was funded by the nation’s largest law enforcement machine?) on taser safety, and the study apparently downplays taser dangers. Not so, says Amnesty International, which reports dozens of taser-related deaths in the United States and Canada through 2004 alone, and over 200 such deaths in the United States through present.

According to CNN: “The Wake Forest researchers acknowledge that there have been roughly 270 people who have died in police custody after being Tasered, but they say that there is no clear evidence that the deaths can be attributed to Tasering or other causes.” Imagine if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved drugs with such an approach: “There is no clear evidence that deaths can be attributed to LSD, so we will allow it to be sold at 7-11 stores, and to be used on criminal suspects.” Jon Katz.