Taser International will start a sales blitz tomorrow in Miami to boost Taser sales to the public, a move police fear will put a dangerous and largely unregulated weapon on the streets, says the Miami Herald. Business is already brisk at local stores. Law enforcement authorities worry that the Taser will get in the hands of criminals. “If they start some kind of a campaign to sell these things by the hundreds, clearly the bad guys are going to get them,” said Miami Police Chief John Timoney.
Taser has for several years sold the weapon for “home security” through its Web site. The company estimates 100,000 civilian models have sold nationwide. The models, which run from $400 to $1,000, are as powerful as the Tasers police officers carry. Both work by firing dart-tipped wires that deliver an electrical charge that temporarily short-circuits the body’s central nervous system. Taser International president Tom Smith says his device is not so dangerous as the other weapons police officers face every day. He noted that guns, Mace, pepper spray, and batons are legal. “If somebody has an ill-intent, we need to focus on the intent, he said. Smith has lobbied state legislatures to prohibit the sale of Tasers to children and felons. Illinois lawmakers in June became the first in the country to pass a law treating the sale of Tasers like firearms. Buyers of Tasers and other stun guns there must get a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card and submit to background checks. Illinois also mandates a 24-hour waiting period. Florida requires no such check because the weapon is nonethal. More than 80 people have died around the nation after being shocked by police Tasers. The company says those deaths were caused by other factors — mainly the effects of illegal drugs such as cocaine and PCP. Except for a few cases, medical examiners have supported the company’s claims.