In many countries the taser is used as a weapon of torture a type of pain compliance in order to get questions answered. Although not sanctioned to be used as pain compliance it no doubt often is used for such by police forces without any sanction against those who so use it.
At least in Canada the taser is not for sale for use by anyone except police. In the US many states allow sales to individuals. As this article points out the taser is not classified as a weapon such as a gun unlike the very first models.
The taser is generally non-lethal in controlled circumstances used on healthy individuals. However, often the taser is used on highly disturbed or drugged individuals and often with health conditions. Of course when a person dies in these circumstances almost always the death can be blamed on the underlying conditions rather than the taser. Right and diabetes never kills anyone either. You die of a heart attack, failed kidneys etc...
The dark lure of `pain compliance'
TheStar.com - News - The dark lure of `pain compliance'
Nothing in the curious history of Tasers suggested just how powerful an appeal the weapons would hold for police officers
December 01, 2007
Special to the Star
A video that shows Vancouver police officers Tasering Robert Dziekanski has now been viewed by at least 15 million people online. The video and news of Dziekanski's subsequent death caused an international outcry and spurred debate about the use of the electro-shock weapon. But despite the fact that police in Canada and the United States have been using them quietly – if not entirely without consequence – since 1999, few people actually know what Tasers are, how they work and why police and other agencies have them.
Fewer still are aware, as human rights advocates claim, that the weapon – intended to replace firearms in life-threatening situations – is more frequently used for "pain compliance." That's a euphemism for inflicting pain to get someone to do what you want.
The development of the Taser can be traced to a NASA researcher named Jack Cover who, in 1969, started to develop a non-lethal weapon that could be used by police to control unruly suspects, so that officers did not have to resort to firearms.
Cover surmised that a high-voltage, low-ampere electric shock would disorient and disarm someone long enough for police to assume control without lasting damage to the suspect. His views were reinforced after a series of experiments on large pigs.
By 1974, he had created a device that featured a powerful battery pack attached to two darts with long, insulated wires. A blast from the handheld device sent the sharp darts flying at a target.
When the darts connected to an object – like a human body – it completed a circuit and sent a current of electricity through the object. That kind of shock can interrupt most people's central nervous systems profoundly enough to render them helpless. It's extremely painful. But, since the human body can't store electricity, its effects are temporary.
Cover named the weapon Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle (or Taser) after his childhood hero, an adventurous youth from early 20th-century comic books.
But Cover made one elementary mistake: He used a gunpowder charge to fire the darts from the weapon. That prompted the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to classify the Taser in the same group of weapons as a sawed-off shotgun. Not only did that drastically reduce the amount of legal sales to individuals, it scared off police forces and military sales.
In 1993, an entrepreneurial pair of Arizona-based brothers, Rick and Tom Smith, bought the Taser name and idea from Cover and replaced the gunpowder charge with a blast of compressed air.
The ATF eventually reclassified the new Taser as a non-firearm and the Smiths began testing the weapons, mostly in Eastern Europe, ironing out the kinks and marketing them to individuals in places they were legal.
When the weapon was finally approved for police use in 1998 – starting with the Orlando, Fla., force – it was quickly accepted and arrived in Canada the following year.
Modern Tasers deliver a 50,000-volt shock for five seconds and the darts can penetrate up to four centimetres of clothing as far as 11 metres away.
In interviews, police on both sides of the border were unanimously and enthusiastically in favour of the Taser as an essential piece of equipment.
"It's a fact of life that police are sometimes confronted by desperate, violent individuals," said one Ontario officer who didn't want to be named. "And it's a good feeling to know that you can stop that kind of person without resorting to deadly force."
Studies in major cities in the U.S. – Canadian ones don't make such information public – have consistently shown that the addition of Tasers to a police force's arsenal leads to a significant drop in shootings by officers. In 2003, two years after introducing Tasers, Seattle reported its first full year without a shooting by police in 25 years.
But the problem is that while Tasers may be considered a non-lethal alternative to firearms, they can kill people. Human rights advocacy group Amnesty International has called for a nationwide suspension of police Taser use after uncovering 19 cases of suspects dying after being Tasered by police in Canada.
The group's findings, according to Andrew Buxton, chair of Amnesty's Toronto office, have shown that people who die after being Tasered are usually subjected to a number of restraint efforts by police, including batons and pepper spray. He noted that Rodney King was Tasered as police were beating and restraining him, as seen in the notorious 1991 video.
Taser-related deaths often come as a shock to police officers, not only because they have been told the Taser is non-lethal, but because they have seen it tested. Many, no doubt, have even felt the weapon's effects as police instructors are known to commonly demonstrate Tasers on their students.
The fact is a Taser will not kill a normal, healthy person under controlled circumstances. The problem is that Tasers are rarely used against normal, healthy people in controlled circumstances.
Amnesty's research also indicated that the people who died after being Tasered were usually in a state of delirium and extreme stress at the time of the incident.
Certain street drugs can prompt delirium and also increase the heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature to dangerous levels. That same delirium that puts suspects at the greatest risk from Tasers also makes them less likely to feel their effects.
Seeing a suspect unaffected by a Taser has historically made officers fire at them repeatedly, greatly increasing the risk of lethality.
Buxton points out that at least two, possibly three, Taser shots are audible in the Dziekanski tape.
But Buxton doesn't want people to think Amnesty favours the use of firearms by police in situations where Tasers would be more effective. The group advocates a suspension of the Taser until a definitive study can set rules for its application and to end the use of Tasers when they are not replacing deadly force.
"They are just so effective and so easy to use," he said. "They can easily be abused."
Buxton points out that Taser Inc.'s own literature admits that 20 per cent of Taser use is for pain compliance. The officer who didn't want to be named admitted that was the case, but that he'd never done it himself.
"Pain compliance is an unfortunate fact of life," he said. "You can't expect people who really don't want to be arrested to do what you need them to do just because you ask them."