New double-barrelled Taser unveiled
Two skeletons flashing on and off with one gun
Taser International, the firm behind the famous, controversial electric stun weapons, has announced a new model. The double-barrelled Taser X2 can be discharged twice without reloading.
Snap and crackle means less popping of caps, hopefully.
The company had previously brought out a triple-barrelled X3 model – also available in a special model intended for use on wildlife rather than humans – but this is apparently overly large and bulky for most Taser customers, who are typically US law-enforcement types required to carry ordinary lethal-force pistols and much other belt gear as well as their electric zapguns.
Taser describes the new X2 as "the most voice-of-consumer designed taser device" and "designed by law enforcement for law enforcement". It is said to be of similar size to a normal single-shot Taser X26.
Like all Tasers, the X2 works by launching a pair of darts angled slightly up and down which trail thin wires back to the weapon. Provided that the darts make contact with the victim's body at suitable separation, the user can then pass a crippling pulsed electric current through the target. This will normally leave the hapless individual thrashing helplessly on the ground.
Taser advocates say that this treatment, while unpleasant, is far less damaging both to victim and user than other means at cops' disposal for subduing people who refuse to obey lawful orders: this would normally mean the use of clubs, beanbag or baton projectiles, gas or mace, "come-along" grips or holds etc. Critics don't normally dispute this, but suggest that possession of Tasers encourages cops to use force more than they otherwise would, or even that Tasers are used as a means of illegal punishment or torture.
That said, a Taser generates an internal log of every discharge and sprays forensically-verifiable unique confetti around the area on being fired, making it a poor choice for the nefariously inclined copper. Certainly, while London Metropolitan police units who have been issued with Tasers have come under the spotlight for allegedly making questionable use of force, this has centered on their use of other more traditional techniques.
The controversy doesn't seem to be injuring Taser International's sales, with the company announcing several large orders in recent weeks from various US federal and local agencies as well as some (unnamed) overseas customers.
The firm also produces several models for sale to civilians and a range of products targeted at the military – for instance the Shockwave, a kind of Taser landmine system. These latter don't appear to have achieved any great success. ®
You're missing the subtle central point of the controversy
They had previously claimed that tasers were inherently and perfectly safe (implying that they could be used freely, even when lethal force would never be justified). They characterized any and all taser-related deaths as simple coincidences. Critics objected that they were not being totally honest about the small but significant risk (and rate) of taser-induced death. The company has ever so slowly micro-stepped their safety claims away from their initial claims, recently to the point where their latest legal warnings clearly indicate the various ways that tasers can kill. But they've yet to come clean about their previous period of utterly false claims about the level of safety.
More than 500 people have died immediately after being tasered (please note that essentially zero have ever died just as they were about to be tasered, a point that addresses many false arguments). It's safe to say that probably at least one-third to one-half of those deaths could be fairly attributed to the taser itself (this being as generous as possible to them) - if their false claims were not permitted to influence medical examiners. This adds up to several hundred people killed by tasers, people that would not otherwise have been facing justifiable lethal force.
It really doesn't matter about the weapon itself. Police can use a board with rusty nails embedded for all I care - provided it's justifiable and honestly marketed. It's the utterly false claims about taser safety that have resulted in people being unjustifiably killed.
Taser torture (especially "undisclosed overseas clients") is a whole other topic.
@'some vaguely opinionated bloke'
We're years past that point in the debate. Google the 'Truth Not Tasers' blog. She keeps a list of those that have died in circumstances that are directly related to being tasered. More than 500. Names, dates, etc. You can google the news reports for each case (often captured on the blogs if they've disappeared from the sources)). Some cases are very clear, some are not so clear.
It's reasonable to assume that 'The List' probably contains some that were just about to drop dead anyway (no matter the taser), and others that the taser caused or contributed to death. I'm being very generous to allow that the list would contain both situations. The dividing line is almost certainly in the middle third somewhere. Note that the company continues to deny ANY directly caused deaths (an insane claim), in contrast to their legal warnings that list several ways that tasers can kill. Their positions (public claims vice legal warnings) are self-contradictory. They're obviously not being completely honest.
To answer your other question I'm afraid you'll have to study the issue yourself. It gets very subtle, very fast. There is evidence of curruption (wining and dining coroners) and circular reasoning (*) at the highest level. Hit the linked blogs, some of them have a lot of good info.
10: This fellow wasn't killed by the taser because "we know" that tasers are safe.
20: What about him? He was tasered_and_died.
30: GOTO 10
Sub heading suggestion...
Don't Tase me, again, bro'!