A new, more powerful version of the Taser, which can drop an adult to the ground in excruciating pain, can soon be purchased in Minnesota. It is already available on the Internet. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that no permit or training is required there, despite growing concerns about the weapon’s safety. The Taser (Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle), delivers 50,000 volts by way of two fishhook barbs attached to 15 feet of wire. The incapacitating effect is intended to wear off almost as soon as the current stops. This fall’s $999 consumer model matches those carried by police. The Star Tribune has documented news reports of 105 cases nationwide since 1983 in which a person died after being shocked by police with an electric stun weapon. Three people have died in Minnesota in the past 14 months.
Taser spokesman Steve Tuttle declared,. “We have never been listed as a direct or primary cause of death in our company’s existence. We have reviewed the cases provided by the Star Tribune involving Taser devices, and they are consistent with other unfortunate in-custody deaths where a Taser device was not deployed. Taser devices save lives every day.” Taser International says that about 5,400 law-enforcement agencies use the weapon. It’s prohibited in at least seven states, including Wisconsin, and in some cities and counties, including Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.