How Safe Are TASER Devices?
Though there have been cases of people dying after being stunned with a TASER device or stun gun, this occurrence actually happens a miniscule percentage of cases. In fact, TASER devices were first introduced as an alternative to the use of lethal force. TASER products, pepper spray, and other alternatives have been used by law enforcement and by civilians as an alternative to lethal force (such as firearms) since the 1980s.
Over the last decade or so, TASER units have been used more frequently by both police officers and the general public, and occasionally in situations where lethal force would not be necessary. The device emits rapid electric pulses through the body. Those pulses cause incapacitation by causing involuntary and instantaneous muscle contraction.
Some facts about TASER use:
- Tasers and stun guns are used by law enforcement in 29 of the country’s 33 largest cities
- Tasers are legal in 43 states across the country
- Those who carry such devices often do so because they want to avoid carrying or using a gun to defend themselves
So, what about deaths resulting from TASER use? Amnesty International reported that in 2008, that there were 351 Taser-related deaths between June 2001 and August 2008. Though this might seem high, that's out of thousands of TASER uses during the year.
Depending on the subject's health and the circumstances involved, death seems to be possible, though exceedingly rare. Physicians performing autopsies on those who died after being hit by a TASER probe found that over 50% of the victims had pre-existing heart conditions, and 80% of them tested positive for illegal substances. Of those individuals who died after Taser-related incidents, other factors may have included head injuries that occurred while being Tasered, as well as the electrical pulse of the device interfering with heart pacemakers.
Debate remains regarding whether or not a TASER, alone, can cause death. The majority of research seems to indicate that a simple Taser is not enough to cause death in most healthy individuals. Some considerations may include the distance the subject was standing from the device, as well as the duration of time the probe remained in contact with the target.
Though TASER devices may not be perfect, they're certainly safer than carrying a gun for self defense. Along with personal alarms, pepper spray, and other defense devices, TASER and stun gun units are an effective way to protect yourself from attack.
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