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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Amnesty International USA raises safety concerns about the taser shotgun

February 7, 2008
George McGinn - AHN

New York, N.Y. (AHN) - A new Taser shotgun capable of firing untethered rounds has raised the same unresolved concerns Amnesty International USA has with conventional Tasers. Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, issued a statement in response to the introduction of the Mossberg Taser X12 LLS shotgun, which he said fires an "eXtended Range Electronic Projectile" capable of delivering an electrical shock to a target.

The XREP, which is not tethered to the gun, can be fired up to 65 feet, doubling the distance of traditional Tasers. "This weapon should not be introduced into the field before comprehensive, independent medical research on its safety has been completed," Cox said. "Using this shotgun before there is adequate research is putting the cart before the horse, with public safety the potential loser."

Cox said more than 290 people have died in the United States after being shocked with traditional Tasers. And according to a statement filed with the U.S. Justice Department inquiring into deaths in custody, out of 291 cases, Amnesty International has identified only 25 people who were reportedly armed with any sort of a weapon when they were electro-shocked. Such weapons did not include firearms.

"This should be a time to examine why these deaths are happening, not to experiment with newfangled ways to use the technology," he said.

The XREP's projectile has a 20-second default shock time, which is four times longer than that of the traditional device. "Most people who have died after being stunned with regular Tasers were subject to multiple or prolonged shocks," Cox said. "This new technology also raises medical questions about how electroshock interacts with the blunt impact of a powerful projectile."

According to Taser International's Web site, its proprietary new radial ammunition key technology prevents the system from accepting lethal 12 gauge rounds, eliminating the possibility of loading lethal ammunition during high stress situations.

Taser's press kit states that "Taser technology saves lives every day and numerous independent medical studies conclude that Taser Electronic Control Devices (ECDs) are the among the safest and most effective use-of-force options available. Taser technology dramatically reduces injury rates to suspects and officers, thereby lowering liability risk and improving officer safety and community security."

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