UK civil rights groups question safety of stun guns
- By: Mark Gould
Civil rights groups and mental health charities are demanding an independent safety evaluation of electric stun weapons before they are used by police forces in the United Kingdom.
The Metropolitan Police and Northamptonshire Constabulary are considering introducing the “taser” stun gun from the United States as an alternative to firearms used against violent suspects. The taser fires barbed darts that deliver a 50000 volt shock to paralyse an assailant temporarily.
Supporters of the stun gun say it would prevent tragic shootings by police such as those that recently resulted in the deaths of Andrew Kearnan, who was wielding a samurai sword, and Derek Bennett, who was carrying a cigarette lighter shaped like a pistol. Both men had a history of psychiatric illness.
The National Schizophrenia Fellowship has called for an urgent meeting with the home secretary, David Blunkett.
“We have also written to Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir John Stevens asking