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TASER

Many law enforcement agencies use Tasers in the USA and around the world. Instead of killing or wounding victims with bullets the non-lethal Taser delivers a 50,000 volt electric shock to the perp that overrides his central nervous system causing uncontrollable muscle contractions and instant collapse.

The person who invented the Taser named it for a 1911 boy's action story by author Victor Appleton. This fiction tale is about a young crime fighter who stops criminals by incapacitating the perps with an electric rifle he made. The name kid in the story was Thomas A. Swift. The story was entitled: “Thomas A. Swift and his Electric Rifle”. The inventor of the first true electric non-lethal devise named his invention T A S E R after the initials of the story title.

The Arizona corporation called Taser International manufactures and sells this non-lethal devise. Several models of the Taser are available. Starting in 1994 their first devise was called the "Air Taser" in 1998 the model "M26" came out and in 2003 the "X26." These high powered Tasers are carried by law enforcement. Police say the use of Tasers lowers injury to both the police and public. Police also say the Taser is a tool to be used in addition to other nonlethal types of force.

However, some people such as doctors, reporters and human rights groups hold that the Taser use raises safety issues. Taser International representatives disagree and state the Taser is not a lethal weapon. The company says the jolt will physically disable a target. The Taser tells “the muscles what to do: contract until the target is in the fetal position on the ground." The company says there are no lasting effects after being tased.

Research revealed since 2001, 70+ people are reported to have died in the United States and Canada following tasing with the M26 or the X26 models. Twelve people died in Florida. Four died in Orange County. Coroners say such deaths are due to other factors such as drugs taken before Tasered. Some medical personnel question whether Tasering may exacerbate heart failure but there is no proof. Some scientists think electricity near the heart could be dangerous and may cause ventricular fibrillation. As of now, no one knows if the Taser causes death.

There are 6,000+ law enforcement and correctional agencies in 49 states using Taser equipment. Campus police, at many universities use tasers. The U.S. army used tasers during the Iraq war and are using them at Guantanamo Bay. Public ownership in at least 43 states is not restricted for self-defense.

In 2007 Orange County Sheriff's office had 700 deputies out of the 1,318 man force armed with Tasers and the department ordered 125 more Tasers. The following year,  Orange County deputies made 45,033 arrests using Tasers only 464 times. This number included 14 suspects so aggressive the law would condone the use of deadly force.

The Orlando Police Department policy restricts the use of Taser use unless a perp actively resists the officer.

Critics of Taser use, such as Amnesty International, have called for all federal, state and local authorities to suspend use of Tasers and other electro-shock weapons pending an urgent rigorous, independent and impartial inquiry in to their use and effects.

There is to date no suspension and it looks like Tasers will continue in use.

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