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Friday, May 23, 2008

49% back taser ban: Poll

May 23, 2008

Almost half of Canadians want a ban on cops using Tasers, a new study has found.

The Angus Reid Strategies poll of 1,006 Canadians across the country found that 49% favour a moratorium on police usage of the controversial stun guns.

And nearly three in four Canadians -- 74% -- are against the civilian use of Tasers for personal safety, according to the poll.

The poll was released Wed -nesday, the same day Toronto Police tactical officers used a Taser on a 30-year-old Scarborough man who allegedly stabbed another man in the chest three times.

Sgt. Rob Tobin said Emergency Task Force officers were called to a Reidmount Ave. condo building near Sheppard Ave. and Kennedy Rd., where they found a man armed with a knife and a 36-year-old victim.

The alleged stabber was jolted with a Taser before he was arrested and charged with attempted murder. The victim was recovering in hospital with non-life threatening injuries yesterday.

"It just debilitates people from doing any harm to themselves or to us," Tobin said. "It's a very effective tool."

The poll also found 57% of respondents in B.C. favoured a moratorium on Taser use by law officers. In Ontario, about 46% supported the same. About 10% of Ontario residents were unsure while 45% opposed a ban. A total of 43% of Canadians opposed a ban, while 8% were unsure.

Across the country, only 23% of respondents think stun guns should be allowed for civilian use. In Ontario, 78% oppose the idea of average citizens being allowed to carry the weapon.

Last year, according to Toronto Police, local cops deployed Tasers 404 times and fired the weapon 187 times.

While Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair wants 3,500 frontline officers equipped with Tasers at a cost of nearly $9 million, not everybody is convinced it should be a part of every cop's arsenal.

Former Toronto mayor John Sewell, a member of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, said the video of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who died after being Tasered by Mounties at Vancouver Airport, has caused the Canadian public to become apprehensive about the high-voltage weapons.

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