As Use of Stun Guns Proliferates, Some Places Seek Safeguards


The increasing use of stun guns by law enforcement agencies is giving rise to studies and policies aimed at managing their use, reports USA Today. Stun guns are used by more than 12,700 U.S. law enforcement and military agencies, up from 500 in 2000, according to a spokesman for manufacturer Taser International. As stun guns become commonplace, state and local officials seek safeguards, sometimes in response to public outcry over the use of the devices. The National Institute of Justice completed a two-year study in April on police stun guns. Findings and recommendations are likely to be released to law enforcement in the next few weeks

In April, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell issued a report calling on the state’s police agencies to set policies addressing such issues as when it is appropriate to use stun guns multiple times on one person. The report, which followed Brattleboro police’s stunning of two people at a sit-in protest, said police should not stun passive resisters. The North Carolina Taser Safety Project, which includes the state American Civil Liberties Union chapter, reports at least 13 sheriffs have adopted restrictions since last summer. The Orange County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office limits stun gun use to those actively resisting arrest, a policy that has become state law. Honolulu police are banned from using stun guns for passive resistance or protest and discouraged from firing them at children, seniors or suspects who are handcuffed or fleeing.


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