Tasers Potentially Lethal, New Research Finds

Taser® electronic control devices (ECDs)–also known as “stun guns”–are effective self-defense and safety tools. But as with any technology, they can be used inappropriately and cause harm.

According to an article in The New York Times, research suggests that the electrical shock delivered to the chest by a

Taser® can cause sudden death by stopping the heart. The study looked at what happened in the cases of eight people who when into cardiac arrest after being shot by a stun gun at a distance. When a stun gun is “shot,” it emits electrical barbs into the clothing and skin. The electrical shock can temporarily disable a person, knock them off their feet, and put them in a daze.

In some cases, the shock is enough to cause irregular heart rhythms. And in some cases, people die.

“This is no longer arguable,” said Dr. Byron Lee, a cardiologist and director of the electrophysiology laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco. “This is a scientific fact. The national debate should now center on whether the risk of sudden death with Tasers is low enough to warrant widespread use by law enforcement.”

While stun-gun supporters claim that the ECDs are safer than firearms, this study confirms what some experts have been saying for years, that people should not consider stun guns “safe,” and that law enforcement should avoid multiple shocks, prolonged shocks, and shocks to the chest.

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