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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taser unveils new 'semi-automatic' model

July 29, 2009
Josh Wingrove, Globe and Mail

Days after British Columbia's Braidwood commission recommended tighter rules around the use of tasers, the American manufacturer of the devices rolled a new product off the line that it says will “fit in” to the province's new guidelines.

Taser International debuted its X3 model Monday, the first new conducted energy weapon the company has released since 2003. The X3's main selling feature is its ability to fire three pairs of electrified probes in quick succession without reloading – giving an officer with a taser the chance to simultaneously zap up to three suspects. Older models, which have only one pair of probes, must be reloaded after each shot.

The Braidwood recommendations, released last Thursday and adopted almost immediately by the province, said that a taser should be discharged once, and not for more than five seconds. A second discharge, it recommended, should only happen if it will be “effective in eliminating the risk of bodily harm.”

Taser International says its new X3 – four years in the making – has a more consistent pulse than its predecessor, the X26.

The new weapon also tracks, second by second, the amount of energy being discharged into a target's body, the company argues. Its earlier model only tracked the time and total duration of a discharge.

“The log just on its own would be phenomenal for courts and [in light of] some of the controversy in Canada,” Taser International spokesman Steve Tuttle told The Globe and Mail.

“The Taser X3 is the most sophisticated handheld weapon ever developed,” Rick Smith, the company's chief executive officer, added in a statement.

The X3's debut in Arizona came as Alberta announced Monday it would restrict the use of conducted energy weapons. The Alberta government is expected to release details of its new rules for police later this week. Three months ago, the province scrapped 50 tasers, or 12 per cent of its inventory, after tests showed they weren't working properly.

Taser International's promise of an improved “pulse calibration system” also comes on the heels of an award-winning CBC and Canadian Press investigation that found 10 per cent of tasers tested were either defective or behaved unexpectedly. Some gave out a higher charge than they were meant to.

The company has disputed the testing methodology of CP, the CBC, the province and the Braidwood commission, in which Mr. Tuttle believes “politics outweighs the science.”

Taser International argues its new model is safer than the previous “proven and widely accepted” device. Mr. Tuttle told The Globe that while the timing of the X3's release and both the B.C. and Alberta announcements was coincidental, the features of the X3 will be useful in adopting the Braidwood recommendations.

“In light of the Braidwood commission, this is only a benefit to have the X3 come out, in terms of timing,” he said. “This will be helpful … the byproduct of it [the timing of the X3's release] is that it does fit in to some of the [Braidwood] recommendations.”

He said the triple-fire capacity could be used to either target more than one suspect – firing the prongs into three people at once – or to fire a second pair of prongs at a lone suspect when the first miss.

An officer with an X3 can fire “in a semi-automatic fashion, hit two probes into one suspect, two shots in another, two shots in another,” Mr. Tuttle said. “Now you don't have to reload, which is hard to do under a dynamic scenario. You can take that second shot. You can take that third shot.”

The $1,799.95 (U.S.) X3 also includes improved resistance to the elements, including “short-term water submersion,” the company said. Police forces will be offered the chance to trade in their old models and upgrade to the X3, the company said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The term "Junk Science" has a history which everybody should look into.

It first came up in the 1960s when industries tried to discredit the scientific evidence about pesticide abuse and about the deaths and illness caused by smoking.

In some cases the exact same PR Spin Doctors continue to use exactly the same tactics they used to try and stall regulations and legislation about air and water pollution, acid rain, and global warming.

Now we see it being trotted out in the Conducted Energy Weapon debate.

Any company or idustry which uses the term "Junk Science" is really saying that people should ignore the science and instead pay attention to junk that sounds like science, but isn't, and which says that they can carry on doing whatever has been making money for them.

If they were confident about their own "science" they would not have to resort to name calling. They would lay out their own facts and arguments and trust that people can decide what is really in their own best interest.

I have great confidence in the ability of most people to come to the correct conclusion about what is really in their own best interest.