|Cops on patrol today on San Victorino Plaza in Bogotá. They appeared to be carrying regular pistols.|
|Israel Hernandez, a Colombian-American |
who died last August after being
tasered by police in Miami Beach.
The answer obviously is 'yes,' but that's the wrong question. Nothing is perfectly safe, particularly a device designed to incapacitate violent criminals by causing them pain.
And police will use some dangerous device, whether billy clubs, tasers or regular guns. The right question to ask is whether tasers are better than the alternative.
Tasers have a bad image here, and perhaps rightly so, because last August Israel Hernandez, an 18 year-old Colombian-American graffiti artist was killed in Miami Beach by a police taser charge.
According to Amnesty International since 2001 500 people in the United States have been killed by electric stun guns. Every one of those deaths is a tragedy. But every year tens of thousands of people in the U.S. are killed by firearms. If those were replaced by tasers, almost all of those people would have survived.
Bogotá graffiti artist Diego Felipe Becerra,
shot to death in 2011 by police firearms.
According to a police study cited by Wikipedia, taser use reduced police deaths by 75%. The Taser company's website claims that their products have saved 128,000 lives and counting. I wonder how they came up with that number. However, if I were a youth being chased, rightly or wrongly, by police, I'd much prefer they carried electric pistols than ones with bullets in them.
|Bogotá cops: better off with firearms, |
electric pistols, or both?
Another danger of real guns was highlighted by the ongoing scandal over the importation of thousands of Sig Sauer pistols, apparently in violation of German law. Some of those pistols were stolen before police even received them - meaning that criminals are likely using them today to rape, robbery or even murder. I'd much rather that those criminals get their hands on tasers - which fire only one to three times and which the bad guys probably wouldn't even know how to use - than real guns.
It's amazing to me, too, how the potentially illegal purchase of tens of thousands of deadly real guns and the theft of some of them, produced little news, while the purchase of a few hundred electric stun guns has generated a firestorm. It's a testament to how blasé society has become about the proliferation of firearms.