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Tasers Ban

Comment 22nd July 2010

According to the BBC web site, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6660283.stm

"More UK police to get stun guns . . .

"During the last four years, Tasers have become standard police equipment in the UK and have been regarded as a less dangerous alternative to guns.", 16 May 2007.

In the same article, the BBC reports Amnesty International's concern that "the move, … would also change the circumstances in which officers can deploy Tasers. . . . Amnesty argues the stun guns have been linked to more than 70 deaths in America and Canada.",

These weapons are touted (as the BBC story title and sub headline follow) as "stun Guns" or "Non-lethal weapons".

Currently (22 July 2010) Amnesty International web site reports "Since June 2001, more than 351 individuals in the United States have died after being shocked by police Tasers", http://www.amnestyusa.org/us-human-rights/taser-abuse/page.do?id=1021202.  (See, as one example, http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/03/24-8: In March last year a 15-year-old died shortly after being shot by a taser fired by a Bay City police officer.  And even when not lethal, taser deployment can cause permanent injuries of different kinds in the subject, see POLICE BRUTALITY – Cops Taser 14 Year Old Girl In The Headhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9TUOaPrBt8)

The classification of such a weapon as 'non-lethal' is therefore inaccurate.  My concern is, to quote Amnesty International again, "Because Tasers are often seen as completely safe and non-lethal, they are often used as a weapon of first rather than last resort."  (To classify them as "not always lethal" may lead to a more realistic respect for their potential.)

Video and other reports from the USA lead to the impression that device is actually being used more as a weapon of terror as an instrument to intimidate and terrify the population into state cowering obedience, rather than as an alternative to (frequently) lethal weapons.  This is one USA trend that we in the UK definitely do not want to follow.

I cannot think of any justification for police carrying such fearful weapons.  There are many other tools available for effective policing.

 

Please will you therefore repeal the laws permitting police to use these and similar weapons or create legislation to ban them from UK police use.

Why does this matter?

In order to restore public confidence in police in this country, we desperately need to break down the "Us versus Them" perception.  Giving such weapons at these to police will do nothing but reinforce it.

To be effective, police need to be perceived as part of the community, working on behalf of the community and reporting to the community – not as agents of the state placed there to exercise the control of the state, which is increasingly the impression being created.

Police are being given more and more weapons, while the rights of the ordinary citizen to hold arms have been all but done away with.  Neither do the public have tasers but the police are being given more of them and, reading between the lines of the BBC article, it would seem that the 'rules of engagement' for UK police using tasers are being/have been relaxed.  All this exacerbates the problem created by the "Us versus Them" mentality. 

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