Thursday, December 4, 2008

Michigan Concealed Pistol License: Future Taser Option?

On November 12th of this year, Michigan State Representative Rick Jones created quite a stir at the State Capitol in Lansing. On that date, he voluntarily agreed to be "TASERed" by a personal protection device distributor while two Eaton County Sheriff's Deputies held him up on his feet.

Jones allowed himself to be "TASERed" during a show-and-tell presentation before a committee hearing that was considering whether to take action on a package of bills that could eventually allow Michigan residents, with Concealed Pistol Licenses (CPLs), to carry these devices for personal protection. Currently, only law enforcement officers (LEOs) are allowed to possess them in the state of Michigan.

What Are TASERs?
The TASER was invented in 1974 by Jack Cover, a NASA scientist. He officially named his invention as a "Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle" as a tribute to a fictional character from an adventure novel series in the early 1900's. Thus, TASER is an acronym.

A TASER is a device, which in many cases has the same general physical form of a handgun, but instead of ammunition cartridges, uses two special metal probes that are fueled by a nitrogen based payload which propels itself along an aerial path with its attached wiring into a target up to a maximum distance of fifteen feet.

Upon TASER activation, the delivered metal probes deliver a pulsating shock - via the attached wiring - which lasts for a full 30 second cycle unless it is intentionally shortened by the user.

A TASER charge uses an 18 - 26 Watt electrical signal to completely override the target's central nervous system (CNS) and directly controls the target's skeletal muscles. The TASERed target's muscles are forced to contract and as result the target is essentially forced to assume the fetal position on the ground.

In theory, a 30 second incapacitation of a target could enable a victim enough time to safely escape danger. The victim at this time could either simply drop and discard the TASER while making a hasty exit or he could simply remove the attached wiring from the TASER before retreating and have - as a result of this action - the functional equivalent of a stun gun.

A stun gun is a personal protection device that is less powerful than a TASER. It uses an 7 - 14 Watt electrical signal to disrupt a target's sensory nervous system (SNS). The biggest difference between a stun gun and a TASER is that the stun gun must actually come into contact with a target to be effective.

If Legalized, Should Citizens Use Them?
Many people advocate the use of TASERs principally because of its perceived reputation as being less lethal than a firearm. While it is true that TASERs are designed not to cause permanent damage to a target, there are numerous documented cases in which a TASERed person had died as a result. Thus, death is a possible outcome when a TASER is used and applicable laws on self defense and lethal force should be followed when using a TASER.

TASERS are not without any down-sides. For starters, a TASER can only fired once. If a victim misses, he would then only be armed with the equivalent of a stun gun which requires him to be very close to his assailant. Further, TASERs designed for civilian use can only used at a maximum distance of 15 feet. In contrast, most firearms are designed to be fired multiple times and can be used across greater distances.

Michigan is the only state that grants CPLs but does not allow TASERs to be used by civilians for self-defense. Personally, I believe that a firearm is the best personal protection device. However, if a change in the law allows state residents to use TASERs, more people would apply for CPLs. This consequence would lead to more citizens being educated on lethal force, self-defense, firearms, and personal protection strategies. In short, Michigan would become an even safer state.
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