US Marijuana Party

Monday, March 14, 2005

Tasers: ‘Safe' 50,000 volts or deadly force?

By David Blymire
The Sentinel

Police swear by stun gun technology but civil rights advocates are growing increasingly alarmed.

Thousands of police departments across the United States are using stun guns that can deliver 50,000-volt electric shocks to disable combative suspects from up to 21 feet away.

Some accounts maintain that as many as 96 people in the United States and Canada have died after being shocked with Tasers over several years. The device's responsibility in the deaths is still a matter of dispute.

Amnesty International says its own experts linked five of 74 deaths reviewed to the Taser.

According to How Stun Guns Work at

Cattle Prods
Cattle prods are similar to stun guns in design -- they apply an electrical current across two electrodes -- but they serve a completely different function. A stun gun uses an electrical charge to incapacitate someone, while a cattle prod applies a charge to get a person or animal moving. A cattle prod only causes pain, it does not significantly affect the muscles and nervous system of the body.

These two devices differ mainly in voltage. The voltage in a stun gun is high enough to dump electricity into the entire body. The lower voltage in a cattle prod only shocks someone at the point of contact.


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