The maker of Tasers is launching a high-stakes campaign to market a new model to consumers despite scores of fatalities and injuries linked to the police Taser, reports the Chicago Tribune. Taser International, which has made its name in law enforcement and the military, envisions a future in which millions of average citizens protect their homes and communities with the stun guns instead of firearms. The new consumer model has a range of 15 feet and is designed to stun for 30 seconds. Despite government inquiries and shareholder lawsuits over the police version, Taser President Thomas Smith insists the products are safe and is upbeat about sales of the recently introduced $1,000 consumer model. Smith, 37, said, “I just can’t get my arms around how big this can get.”
Amnesty International, a leading critic of Taser, warns that while police can receive days of training on the stun gun, civilians are offered one hour of in-person instruction and a 38-minute training DVD. “We have documented a case of a parent using a Taser against a child. That, of course, raises the question if a Taser is going to replace the bootstrap or belt as the preferred form of discipline by parents for children. And if that’s so, we’re facing a very, very dangerous situation,” said William Schulz of Amnesty International USA. Chicago police have been using Tasers on a trial basis since April. Before last week, they had used them more than 150 times without causing serious injury. But in two incidents last week, one person died and another was seriously hurt.