One Study About TASER® Safety Puts 50 Others In Perspective
Zap! Zap! Watching a guy get tasered is scarier to many of us than watching someone get shot. Conductive electricity causes jolts to the body that are spectacularly empathic.
Supposedly scientific studies on the safety of TASER weapons have been conducted for most of the decade, but now a team of cardiologists at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) have assessed some 50 of them to see how 'scientific' they were.
In a research abstract presented at the Heart Rhythm Society's 32nd annual Scientific Sessions, researchers from the cardiac electrophysiology and cardiology divisions of UCSF's Department of Medicine divided the outcomes of the studies into four groups: harmful, probably harmful, unlikely harmful and not harmful.
Results of this categorization revealed that in 96 percent of the studies funded by TASER International Inc. or authored by someone affiliated with the company (23 studies) TASERs were categorized as 'unlikely harmful' or 'not harmful.' In contrast, of the 27 studies not affiliated with TASER, only 55 percent of the studies indicated that the TASERS were 'unlikely harmful' or 'not harmful.'
Were some of the studies biased or were the results coincidental?
There has been an ongoing controversy about the safety of stun guns, and TASERS in particular, as they are the most popular and used by many law enforcement agencies. The high voltage from the devices can cause cardiac arrhythmia, heart attack or complete cardiac arrest, particularly in predisposed individuals. According to the website Truth Not Tasers, which has followed TASER deaths since 2004, a total of 658 North Americans died (coincidentally) after being tasered as of April 25, 2011. (see comment below).