There was a Simpson's episode (There's No Disgrace Like Home) where they are in Dr. Munroe's "lab" for aversion therapy, and keep zapping each other with a shock machine until the whole power grid browns out. Pretty funny.
But the reality of a taser zap is no joke. Just last weekend a man was pronounced dead in Bramption after being "subdued". Looks like this was with about 50,000 volts of persuasion, from a Taser. While the manufacturers claim the devices never have killed anyone, what they really mean is never directly. One manufacturer, Taser International Inc, tries to clarify this with a statement:
"The fact is that Taser devices have never been named as the primary cause of death in any in-custody death, and any links as a contributing factor are subjective and unsupported by clear evidence," Taser Int Inc. "has performed quality medical safety tests and will continue to do more."
According to the New York Times Taser Inc's primary safety studies on its powerful M26 model consist of tests on a single pig in 1996 and on five dogs in 1999, and that researchers paid by the company -- not independent scientists -- conducted the studies.
CBC As it Happens tonight (6:30 on CBC-1), as well as The Current tomorrow morning at 8:30, will discuss this further.
Update - CBC had an interview with a very persuasive Rick Smith, in which he tried to debunk some of the criticisms aimed at him and his company he co-founded. I felt he answered some points convincingly, and weasled out of others.
Taser International trades on NASDAQ currently at $36US, down from an April high of $64. Before the articles started to hit the news.
Our own Ontario minister of community safety Monte Kwinter believes them to be not perfect but definitely effective. He feels that as an alternative to having to shoot and kill someone to subdue them, the Taser is an obvious solution. Valid point, but what about all the situations it's used in where killing someone is not the only alternative. Granted, pepper spray or brute force is not as sure fire, but it's all too easy to stand back 21 feet and zap first, ask questions later. Or, in the case of a Houston youth, from point blank range, 4 times, in the back of the neck. Described later as "an unfortunate misunderstanding".