by: Brandon Turbeville
Monday, July 16, 2012
If 500 hundred deaths and countless abuses at the hands of taser-friendly police is not enough to garner any concern by the average American, then perhaps the new “Nano-Second Electrical Pulse” Mega Stun Gun being introduced by the Department of Defense might do the trick.
The new stun gun was recently unveiled at the DOD’s Non-Lethal Weapons Industry Day and it works by hitting the target individual with alarmingly high voltage for a very short amount of time – i.e. billionths of seconds. However, the amount of electricity fired into the person’s body, while not specified in terms of exact voltage, will be enough to not only stun the individual but render them unconscious.
The victim is supposed to be able to regain consciousness as soon as the flow of electricity stops. However, the Pentagon is predictably working on yet another version of this “improved” stun gun that will render the victim unconscious for several minutes.
The ethical issues surrounding the invention and deployment of such technology, particularly on the streets of the United States are legion. As Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai writes for Wired,
How dangerous a device like that could be is unclear. Stun guns have a long and well documented history of abuse — even students and grandmas have been victims of overzealous, Taser-happy police officers. And their use, despite being labeled “non-lethal,” can be deadly. According to Amnesty International, at least 500 people have died after being shocked with tasers. In 2008, a jury in San Jose deemed the company that produces the stun gun, Taser International, responsible for the death of Robert Heston, a 40-year-old man who was shot by the cops multiple times. The jury found that the company failed to warn the police that repeated discharges could have a deadly effect on the target.
Of course, while the technology itself is obviously dangerous, it is not so much the devices that are responsible for the deaths, as it is the fact that they have been placed in the hands of persons wholly incapable of operating them in a responsible manner.