2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Don't tase me bro...."

James over at Hell in a Handbasket ran a post the other day about an incident here in Columbus where a taser was used to subdue a suspect that had already been shot by police after pointing what they thought was a firearm at them and firing (it was a pellet gun). The 5 second jolt of lightning was not enough to keep the suspect down and he had to be chased and subdued by force with 2 gunshot wounds to his hip by (what I can only assume to be) .40 S&W rounds fired from the officers issued M&P40 pistols.

This shows two things...

  1. Once again it proves that there is no "magic caliber" that provides instantaneous stopping power and that shot placement counts.
  2. A motivated attacker can fight through the effects of many "non" or "less than" lethal systems and still be a threat after their use.
He and I pretty much share a comparable view of the use of tasers...at least for me as they apply to civilian use.

I would never dissuade anyone from soley relying on a taser for self defense if that is all that they felt comfortable with or were legally allowed to own in their locale. Hell, I carry OC spray when I am not allowed to CCW as the best (not perfect) alternative to firearm when needed. The big difference between the tasers the police use and the civilian versions is in how the current is applied.

  • Police models discharge a 5 second pulse each time the trigger is pulled with the only limit to the number of times discharged being the battery capacity.
  • The civilian version discharges a single 30 second burst, the first 5 seconds as strong as the police version but with a reduced pulse rate for the final 25 seconds. The logic being you incapacitate your assailant with the shot, place the weapon on the ground and run away with the 30 seconds you have to do so.

Now, to me the big difference in how they are employed by LEO's and civilians is immense. The key factor is escalation. The LEO has the training and tools available to escalate (or de-escalate) the amount of force used based upon the assailants response. If his use of his authority is not enough to convince a suspect to comply he can uses several non lethal methods to subdue him..taser, baton, chemical spray..not to mention he can call his buddies to come help as well and just dog pile the suspect...like in the incident that James commented on his blog about. If they need to escalate the force they can do that as well with their openly carried and ready firearm on hand or the shotgun, carbine or rifle that they have in their patrol vehicle.

The civilian in most cases has little of that. The majority of us do not dress with the accessories that a police officer has to support a confrontation moving in either direction. Most of us if we carry usually only carry a pistol...maybe a knife or other device or spray...maybe. For us we cannot pull our weapons on someone to "convince" them to comply with us..the use of deadly force or the show of deadly force is only allowed (at least in my jurisdiction) when I feel that my life or those of another is in imminent threat of harm from an attacker. So when I "skin" my pistol it has to be for real. Up to that I should (correctly) be trying to avoid confrontation if possible before I use deadly force. Even Florida's famous "stand your ground" law does not mean you can simply draw and shoot an attacker..and many have paid the price in court for the misunderstanding of that statute.

Basically, a civilian will use the taser as his one and only means of defense in a situation where a LEO would have other options to use. And what if, like in the case in Columbus, it wasn't enough. Taser probes can be deflected by objects in your clothing or thick materials and not complete the circuit, the barbs or wires can be dislodged by the suspect falling while shocked...other things can happen that make it less than ideal. Same for chemical sprays, they can blow back onto you or away from your target, they don't work equally well on everybody..ect. My thought is if I need to defend myself it needs to be a serious enough threat that a handgun will normally be the best choice because I should not be in altercations that I should need to escalate as de-escalation by simply leaving is an option for me while a police officer is forced by the duties of their job to remain and deal with the other party.

I generally admire, but don't envy, law enforcement officers. Their jobs can be mundane, monotonous and dangerous all on the same day. They deal with people in society that most of us steer clear of. They walk down the dark alleys we avoid to confront the bad guys we fear. And while doing all of this for our benefit they are scrutinized on the amount of force they use to perform their duties. The taser has proved a blessing and a curse I think in this line of work. It has saved countless lives by avoiding the use of gunfire to diffuse and incident, but has also backfired in several cases that have gained media attention...

  • An overweight suspect dying of cardiac arrest after the use of a taser was applied to him.
  • A suspect falling and hitting his head causing brain damage after being tasered while fleeing.
  • The use of tasers on pregnant women and children by some officers.

I am not here to lay judgment on any officer involved in any of these, or other, incidents. Your job is hard enough and it isn't my job on this blog to second guess what you needed to do under stress in the field.

Anyway...the main purpose on commenting on this subject was so I could insert one of my favorite segments of the YouTube series "Retarded Policeman" on my blog. Yeah, its not really PC but the actor who has Downs Syndrome obviously enjoys doing it and its pretty damn funny to boot. "Let's go Tazzy Crazy!"


James R. Rummel said...

Great post! And I'm just not saying that because I agree with everything you have to say on this. You laid it all out, and explored the subject at further length than I ever did.

And, of course, thank you kindly for the link!

Huey said...

thanks James, didn't mean to "steal your thunder" by linking over this way but I started to respond and realized I had like 2 paragraphs written and decided to go to a full post..