Stun Guns or Electro Muscular Incapacitation Devices

Published: 2021-06-29 07:10:03
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Category: Science

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Stun guns or electro muscular incapacitation devices are the technical term for the device known as the Taser. Taser is an acronym for Thomas A. Swift Electronic Rifle, based on the weapon of the hero of several adventure novels. Jack Cover, a NASA scientist, began working on this technology in 1966 and completed it in 1974. Covers goal was to create a less lethal weapon to subdue people in a safe way. He found that short duration, high energy, direct current would not injure the person but would cause them to go limp and be subdued very easily. Covers then went on to help found Taser International which would produce its first Taser, a 7 watt air powered version. This version was then replaced with the help of research into the field of electro muscular disruption technology and the development of the Taser M26 (21). The Taser M26 fires "two tethered electrically conductive barbed darts" that are designed to penetrate up to two inches of clothing or skin. After contacting the targets skin the Taser then delivers a charge of 26 watts that interferes with the targets central nervous system resulting in instant collapse.(7)
The controversy surrounding the Taser and its use by law enforcements comes from the fact that the use of the Taser does sometimes lead to death. While it is especially dangerous to use on children and pregnant women able bodied men are sometimes killed by Taser use. These deaths can be due to many underlying causes but are all caused by use of a taser on them. These death are even more prevalent among people who have been doing drugs. This comes due to symptoms of excited delirium, which can cause a person to move around more than they would under normal conditions. This can lead to more Taser shocks on the subject and these repeated shocks can cause major damage to their system.(22) These death detract from the fact that the Taser is a less lethal weapon in the arsenal of law enforcement. Taser does allow them to subdue an assailant from a distance in a way that has very few lasting effects. It can be argued that the death of these outliers should not take away these devices that make law enforcement safer for those performing it. It can also be argued that the deaths that happened were due to underlying conditions and were not the cause of Taser use.
To examine both sides of the issue I will examine some articles from the popular press that talk about events that happened to people right after they were shocked with a taser. I will also look at some articles that examine the issue from a medical standpoint that have done tests on the subject. I will also use perspectives of law journals and other sources to present both sides of the issue.
I will begin by looking at the more popular side of the debate, that law enforcement officers should not be permitted to use Taser devices. The first article that will be examined is Relation of Taser (Electrical Stun Gun) Deployment to Increase in In-Custody Sudden Deaths. This article written by a group of 6 people including two doctors and two scientists. They use statistics obtained from surveys filled out by law enforcement agencies to prove there point, that the use of taser by law enforcement does not reduce the deaths and injuries in custody. Statistics are used to show that in the years after the introduction of the Taser the amount of in custody sudden deaths that did not use a firearm increased 6.4 percent in the year of deployment(3). While the taser is advertised to decrease the amount of in custody lethal force deaths, statistics show this to not be the case. While the amount of in custody sudden deaths did return to the levels of before the deployment of such weapons it did not decrease deaths. This article shows that law enforcement officials do not always use these devices correctly leading to more deaths in custody. (6)

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