Concerns about whether police are using stun guns when the devices aren’t necessary have led Wisconsin Attorney General Peggy Lautenschlager to seek uniform use-of-force guidelines for police agencies in the state, reports USA Today. In New Mexico, state lawmakers are considering whether to classify stun guns as “deadly weapons” and outlaw sales to the public. In Arizona, home to Taser International, Attorney General Terry Goddard is checking into the company’s claims that the devices are a safe alternative to using guns to stop suspects.
The escalating effort by states to determine whether police departments should further restrict their use of stun guns come after reviews by the Arizona Republic and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference indicated that more than 80 people have died since 1999 after they were shocked with stun guns. During the past two decades, about 7,000 of the nation’s 16,000 police agencies have begun using stun guns under policies that can vary widely in outlining when they should be used. The New Mexico proposal would allow only law enforcement officers to have and use the weapons. Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia restrict possession of stun guns by the public.