Non-lethal weapons not liberal enough

For many years, the military has been doing research into non—lethal weapons, mostly for crowd control and hostage situations. Liberals have often encouraged this research, as a means of restraining the use of firearms or other deadly force.

Two private citizens in the 1990s started a company called Taser, which produces a gun—shaped device that shoots out two wires and a projectile that cause a strong stun sensation in a person, incapacitating him momentarily as an alternative to using a gun. In police training, the police officers themselves get shot by a Taser. After years of sincere effort — by both the left and the right — to find and develop a non—lethal weapon, who now are the biggest critics of these devices today? Why, the liberals.

As a personal disclosure, I must state I have researched Taser Corporation and have owned their stock twice (profitably) in the past, not owning any shares now. I am not alone: Bernard Kerik, former Rudy Giuliani New York Police Commissioner and President Bush's former nominee to head Homeland Security, was/is a director and former consultant to Taser who has made $6.2 million in exercised stock options. Now here's a company a liberal can REALLY hate, despite their years of advocating for a non—leathal alternative to police handguns.  

From time to time, an article appears complaining about the fact someone was killed by a Taser. You see, the problem is that some street criminals are actually not as healthy as other citizens — and being high on drugs and/or committing a street crime or attempting an assault on a police officer actually adds to their already high stress levels. Who would have guessed? One headline cries out about a case in Metairie, Louisiana, saying 'Kenner Man subdued with Taser dies.' But if you read into the text of this story, you find out the deceased had a history of being arrested for possession of coca leaves and crack cocaine. And he was attacking the officers, most probably high on some drug. Amnesty International chimed in and was quoted in the article as saying in a recent report that 74 individuals have died in the past four years in the US and Canada as a result of police using Taser stun guns.

Of course, Amnesty International was clever enough to not comment on this specific case or they would be seen as supporting a drug dealer, but their comments are  de facto indirect support to this particular "victim's" plight. What Amnesty International also doesn't tell you in their press releases is that police departments that use Tasers have seen the death rate of suspects confronted by the police go down considerably. According to USA Today, Seattle's police, since starting to use Tasers in 2001, saw no deaths from police action in the year 2003, the first time this has happened in 15 years. The newspaper adds, 'Police in Phoenix say the number of officer—involved shootings dropped 54% in 2003 — from 28 to 13 — after they began using Tasers.' Additional information about lesser death rates can be found at www.taser.com.

The problem Amnesty International doesn't want to address is that the police don't know which drugs are in a person's system in what concentration, merely by looking at him. And if the police were forced to assume that a person was high on drugs and couldn't be subject to a Taser jolt, then their only safe alternative defense in a frontal attack on an officer would be a handgun. If the first bullet doesn't stop the perpetrator, then several more will, often with deadly results. I can't speak from experience, but I suspect many people who have had encounters with the police would rather take their chances against a Taser than a Glock 9mm handgun.

If Amnesty International and the liberals succeed in getting Tasers banned, the police will have to use hand guns and/or clubs exclusively to bring down violent people who threaten other citizens and the police themselves. And there will be little incentive to develop alternatives. Who exactly would want to spend millions to start a new company with even a technically better device than a Taser, if Taser Corporation gets eviscerated by trial lawyers? Would you start such a company or invest in it? Would your teachers' union pension fund want to invest in it? How about CALPERS, the California State government employees union pension fund? Do you think they'd finance a new Taser—like company?

Anyone high on crack cocaine is in both very energetic and hard to subdue (think Rodney King). You might almost say the Taser was invented and approved as a reaction to the Rodney King uproar. It would not be an exaggeration. And the cocaine in the suspect's bloodstream — by itself — is a great stress on the heart which has killed many addicts with no policeman in sight. In fact, Sigmund Freud, a cocaine addict/advocate and author of the Cocaine Papers, had a famous case where he placed a heroin user patient on cocaine to 'help cure' him of his addiction. Guess what happened? The patient died from the cocaine use. And I would assume Dr. Freud had impaired judgment when he made this diagnosis and treatment, to say the least.

Fortunately, Taser Corporation is taking the initiative in dealing with some of its critics. Last Friday, it filed suit against Gannett, publisher of USA Today,  accusing it of  libel, false light invasion of privacy, injurious falsehood and tortious interference with business relations.

The lawsuit centers on a June 3 USA Today article, which Taser claims vastly overstated the level of electrical output of one of Taser's stun guns. The story also featured photos comparing the Taser gun with an electric chair, a lightning storm and an electric train track.

According to Taser's press release, the story stated the electrical output of the Taser X26 was between 2,100 and 3,600 amperes, while Taser says that the weapon's electrical output ranges between 0.0021 and 0.0036 amperes.

According to the USA Today Web site Friday, the paper ran a correction June 6, saying the graphic accompanying the story "significantly overstated the amount of electricity delivered by a Taser."


"Over the course of this biased campaign, more than one billion dollars of shareholder value has been erased," said Rick Smith, Taser chief executive. "Further, we have reason to believe that some law enforcement agencies delayed deploying Taser devices based on this false and misleading information."

Taser stock is down about 68 percent so far this year.

Liberals are exceedingly skilled at complaining about others' inadequacies, and demand no less than perfection from their opponents. The Taser gun is not perfect, but it seems to me that it offers a vast improvement over the available alternatives, and has reduced fatalities. Now that Taser is turning the tables on its critics and pursuing them in court, perhaps the public will have an opportunity to learn more and come to its own judgment on the merits of the issue.

Jack Kemp is not the former Congressman and football star.

For many years, the military has been doing research into non—lethal weapons, mostly for crowd control and hostage situations. Liberals have often encouraged this research, as a means of restraining the use of firearms or other deadly force.

Two private citizens in the 1990s started a company called Taser, which produces a gun—shaped device that shoots out two wires and a projectile that cause a strong stun sensation in a person, incapacitating him momentarily as an alternative to using a gun. In police training, the police officers themselves get shot by a Taser. After years of sincere effort — by both the left and the right — to find and develop a non—lethal weapon, who now are the biggest critics of these devices today? Why, the liberals.

As a personal disclosure, I must state I have researched Taser Corporation and have owned their stock twice (profitably) in the past, not owning any shares now. I am not alone: Bernard Kerik, former Rudy Giuliani New York Police Commissioner and President Bush's former nominee to head Homeland Security, was/is a director and former consultant to Taser who has made $6.2 million in exercised stock options. Now here's a company a liberal can REALLY hate, despite their years of advocating for a non—leathal alternative to police handguns.  

From time to time, an article appears complaining about the fact someone was killed by a Taser. You see, the problem is that some street criminals are actually not as healthy as other citizens — and being high on drugs and/or committing a street crime or attempting an assault on a police officer actually adds to their already high stress levels. Who would have guessed? One headline cries out about a case in Metairie, Louisiana, saying 'Kenner Man subdued with Taser dies.' But if you read into the text of this story, you find out the deceased had a history of being arrested for possession of coca leaves and crack cocaine. And he was attacking the officers, most probably high on some drug. Amnesty International chimed in and was quoted in the article as saying in a recent report that 74 individuals have died in the past four years in the US and Canada as a result of police using Taser stun guns.

Of course, Amnesty International was clever enough to not comment on this specific case or they would be seen as supporting a drug dealer, but their comments are  de facto indirect support to this particular "victim's" plight. What Amnesty International also doesn't tell you in their press releases is that police departments that use Tasers have seen the death rate of suspects confronted by the police go down considerably. According to USA Today, Seattle's police, since starting to use Tasers in 2001, saw no deaths from police action in the year 2003, the first time this has happened in 15 years. The newspaper adds, 'Police in Phoenix say the number of officer—involved shootings dropped 54% in 2003 — from 28 to 13 — after they began using Tasers.' Additional information about lesser death rates can be found at www.taser.com.

The problem Amnesty International doesn't want to address is that the police don't know which drugs are in a person's system in what concentration, merely by looking at him. And if the police were forced to assume that a person was high on drugs and couldn't be subject to a Taser jolt, then their only safe alternative defense in a frontal attack on an officer would be a handgun. If the first bullet doesn't stop the perpetrator, then several more will, often with deadly results. I can't speak from experience, but I suspect many people who have had encounters with the police would rather take their chances against a Taser than a Glock 9mm handgun.

If Amnesty International and the liberals succeed in getting Tasers banned, the police will have to use hand guns and/or clubs exclusively to bring down violent people who threaten other citizens and the police themselves. And there will be little incentive to develop alternatives. Who exactly would want to spend millions to start a new company with even a technically better device than a Taser, if Taser Corporation gets eviscerated by trial lawyers? Would you start such a company or invest in it? Would your teachers' union pension fund want to invest in it? How about CALPERS, the California State government employees union pension fund? Do you think they'd finance a new Taser—like company?

Anyone high on crack cocaine is in both very energetic and hard to subdue (think Rodney King). You might almost say the Taser was invented and approved as a reaction to the Rodney King uproar. It would not be an exaggeration. And the cocaine in the suspect's bloodstream — by itself — is a great stress on the heart which has killed many addicts with no policeman in sight. In fact, Sigmund Freud, a cocaine addict/advocate and author of the Cocaine Papers, had a famous case where he placed a heroin user patient on cocaine to 'help cure' him of his addiction. Guess what happened? The patient died from the cocaine use. And I would assume Dr. Freud had impaired judgment when he made this diagnosis and treatment, to say the least.

Fortunately, Taser Corporation is taking the initiative in dealing with some of its critics. Last Friday, it filed suit against Gannett, publisher of USA Today,  accusing it of  libel, false light invasion of privacy, injurious falsehood and tortious interference with business relations.

The lawsuit centers on a June 3 USA Today article, which Taser claims vastly overstated the level of electrical output of one of Taser's stun guns. The story also featured photos comparing the Taser gun with an electric chair, a lightning storm and an electric train track.

According to Taser's press release, the story stated the electrical output of the Taser X26 was between 2,100 and 3,600 amperes, while Taser says that the weapon's electrical output ranges between 0.0021 and 0.0036 amperes.

According to the USA Today Web site Friday, the paper ran a correction June 6, saying the graphic accompanying the story "significantly overstated the amount of electricity delivered by a Taser."


"Over the course of this biased campaign, more than one billion dollars of shareholder value has been erased," said Rick Smith, Taser chief executive. "Further, we have reason to believe that some law enforcement agencies delayed deploying Taser devices based on this false and misleading information."

Taser stock is down about 68 percent so far this year.

Liberals are exceedingly skilled at complaining about others' inadequacies, and demand no less than perfection from their opponents. The Taser gun is not perfect, but it seems to me that it offers a vast improvement over the available alternatives, and has reduced fatalities. Now that Taser is turning the tables on its critics and pursuing them in court, perhaps the public will have an opportunity to learn more and come to its own judgment on the merits of the issue.

Jack Kemp is not the former Congressman and football star.