Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Arming for Self-Defense

The news that police Tasered a man twice in a salad bar dispute has again raised serious questions about the use of stun guns. Reports that Taser is considering the sale of “consumer” models is even more alarming.

The potential for abuse is huge, and you know it’s going to happen. Even law enforcement personnel will tend to overuse such equipment in confidence that victims will not be harmed. And of course such equipment is readily pressed into service for unquestionably evil purposes: Amnesty International reports that stun equipment of various kinds is used for torture and abuse.

There is also huge potential for ordinary street crime. Armed with stun weapons, muggers and liquor store robbers won’t hesitate to subdue their victims as they will not be charged with homicide even if caught.

Ultimately, this comes down to the issue of arming oneself for protection against people who are already armed. If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns, right? Although on a much smaller scale, it is the arms race all over again. Both international and human society should be trying to reduce weapons and violence instead of sliding farther down the slippery slope of “arming for self-defense.”

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