From isolated cases, a debate is emerging over the use of electric stun guns as a “pain compliance” device by law enforcement, the Christian Science Monitor reports. At issue isn’t whether police can use the weapon, known as a Taser, to protect themselves from dangerous suspects or to prevent a criminal from escaping. The question is to what extent police may use a stun gun against someone who is not actively resisting arrest but who is passively refusing to obey a police command. Last week, the Supreme Court declined to take up the case of a handcuffed Florida motorist who was tased three times because he disobeyed a deputy sheriff’s command to stand up and walk to a patrol car.
Today there are more than 375,000 stun guns at 13,400 law enforcement and military organizations in 44 countries, says manufacturer Taser International. Amnesty International says more than 300 individuals have died after stun gun encounters in the U.S. in the past nine years. Their nonlethal use also has been controversial.