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Herd of sheep, off tits on drugs, savagely Tased

'None suffered heart attacks', exults stungun maker

Application security programs and practises

In shock* news it has emerged that a group of sheep in America, out of their minds on Class A drugs, have been repeatedly blasted using controversial electric Taser stun weapons.

Rather than some kind of degenerate drug-fuelled brouhaha indicative of the moral decline among America's sheep community, the ovine electro-stunning incident was the result of experiments by Taser International in-house boffins intended to show that it's safe to use Tasers on human meth-heads.

The issue arises because, in the natural course of things, a high proportion of the people that American police officers have to forcibly subdue are tripping the light fantastic on crystal meth or related substances at the time. Tasers are supposed to be a replacement for other and more damaging plod tactics such as bludgeoning, pepper-spraying or choking suspects into compliance, so it's important to be able to use them on meth fanciers.

Taser International has already shown to its own (and more importantly most courts') satisfaction that its weapons are without significant ill effect on people not chemically disadvantaged at the time, but it has been argued that a sudden electric shock administered to a methamphetamine connoisseur is likely to cause a heart attack. Certainly a fair number of such people have subsequently died after being subdued by Taser-wielding cops, though this also happened before the stunguns came into use.

Hence the company study, in which 16 Dorset sheep weighing from 26 to 78 kg were given various doses of methamphetamine (four unlucky control animals got none at all) and were then repeatedly zapped with a Taser X26 "compliance device".

According to the Taser boffins and assisting academic colleagues, none of the meth'd up sheep suffered ventricular fibrillation or full-blown heart stoppages. In the case of little ones weighing less than 32kg, the Taser "exacerbated atrial and ventricular irritability induced by methamphetamine intoxication, but this effect was not seen in larger, adult-sized animals".

Taser will no doubt argue that this indicates that it is safe for plods to use their products on meth users, or adult ones at any rate. The study seems highly unlikely to win over the weapons' critics, but perhaps might prove handy for company lawyers in future.

British cops are using Tasers more and more these days, though the governing body of the nation's biggest police force - the Met - remains firmly opposed to them. In recent high-profile incidents, Met officers making questionable use of force have relied on old-school methods: perhaps wisely, as a Taser generates a permanent internal record and scatters forensically verifiable confetti every time it is discharged. ®

*Hem-hem

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