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Just How Dangerous Are Tasers?

Police throughout California use Tasers to shock people into submission. A Taser weapon sends 50,000 volts of electric shock into its target, with the goal of temporarily shutting down the target’s central nervous system. In many cases, this has resulted in serious injuries and even death. In fact, Amnesty International has reported that California is home to the highest Taser-related death rate.

From 2001 to 2012, 92 people were killed in California as a result of being tased. Despite the risks, law enforcement officers in California continue to carry the dangerous weapon. Law enforcement agencies in Texas, however, have recently banned the use of Tasers, in the wake of suggestions that they may be more dangerous than users realize.

While many Taser deaths are linked to police using excessive force, it has also been argued that the Taser product is linked to adverse, or unintended, consequences.

The company that makes Tasers, Taser International, has faced a number of wrongful death lawsuits, claiming that it is liable for adverse effects. There is evidence that indicates that the company may not properly test Tasers.

In 2009, in the aftermath of reports that Tasers are far more dangerous than Taser International and law enforcement departments claimed, the company updated its safety warnings to state that the weapon should not be aimed at a subject’s chest. This year, it updated its warnings again, noting that the use of a Taser can cause serious injuries and death. These changes have been interpreted by some as indications that Taser International is concerned about product liability.

In California, product liability law requires makers and sellers of products to protect the well-being of those affected by their products. When a product is dangerous or defective, companies can be held liable for injuries that result. Of course, weapons, like Tasers, are designed to inflict harm, but only to a certain extent. Tasers are supposed to be non-lethal weapons.

It remains to be seen whether police departments here in California will ban Tasers, and whether Taser International will be held accountable for deaths and injuries caused by its products.

Source: MintPress News, “Five Texas Police Departments Ban Tasers,” Katie Rucke, Sept. 26, 2013