Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Taser Controversy Unwarranted

My local news media has published a biased article about a death during a police confrontation that paints the police as evil for having used a taser.

It is a supposition that since tasers may cause the death of a suspect they should not be used, but this is utter nonsense. All police weapons, all *physical objects*, when used a certain way, can be fatal: nightsticks can induce comas or worse, pepper sprays may set off an allergy, guns obviously can stop vital functions, and so on. The only reason tasers are so often targeted is because they are so commonly used due to their effectiveness and ability to subdue anyone regardless of their strength or pain tolerance.

Henry Hazlitt stated that the majority of economic fallacies stems from the error of not using the imagination to think beyond the effects of a policy in the short-term or the effects on a certain group; let us exercise that needed imagination, for people are making errors by not thinking past their writing tablets.

Let us say, as in the presented article, that you are the one of the policemen that is facing the youth in the apartment. He is not complying and is taking a fighting stance against you. What should you do? First let us ask: does he have a knife or perhaps a....Well, it is too late now. In the time it took you to ask that question and make the necessary observations the suspect could have you killed by then. We will start over. Instead, this time, we will concern ourselves solely with action. Should we use a nightstick? Should we use...‘tis too late again!

The point should be clear now that police officers do not have the time to examine the exact nature of a suspect or to weigh all the pros and cons of a course of action as a newsreader, who is granted omniscience when he imagines the situation, does in his armchair. All decisions must be made as instantaneously as absolutely possible, for in the law enforcement line of work it merely takes a moment’s bad decision to be fatal to the officer. Obviously then the police officers must resort to the most effective method of subduing the suspect as soon as their “instincts” tell them to. This is why a police officer would pull a gun on you even if you were merely fooling around in the glove box during a traffic stop: you may know your intentions are innocent but the officer does not.

But why do we not take it upon ourselves to accept the premise that tasers should not be used due to their potential fatalness? What would be the fullest logical conclusion of such an action?

Immediately we would know that a policeman’s self-defense weapons are reduced to nightsticks, pepper sprays, and guns. Would these reduce the amount of deaths while at the same time maintaining the same amount of effectiveness as we have in enforcement today? No. The pepper spray could largely be considered by far the most ineffective weapon, as it is entirely dependent on pain, amounting to nothing if the suspect has his adrenaline pumping or has a high level of pain tolerance. The nightstick would increase the number of long-term injuries and fatalities, as it is a close-range weapon that could fail an officer if he were to come up against a criminal with a knife (or worse) and could cause a number of injuries to suspects including, but not limited to, concussion, brain injury, coma, or death. Even guns have a possibility of failure; for the bullets could miss the target or hit an inconsequential area of the body (pain tolerance applies here too).

The results are clear: without tasers law enforcement difficulties, injuries, and fatalities increase. Let us not forget that the worst of criminals would only be emboldened upon learning certain self-defense mechanisms are forbidden to the officers, further increasing the difficulties, injuries, and fatalities.

This whole taser controversy is nonsense once logic is applied to it. Why the police are sometimes targeted for biased news stories is beyond my understanding.

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