Homeland Security agencies bar stun guns

March 18, 2005 at 9:08 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- Two U.S. Department of Homeland Security agencies have barred the use of stun guns, citing safety concerns raised by deaths associated with the devices.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies issued directives that their 20,000 agents are not to use tasers -- weapons that use electric charges to temporarily disable suspects, USA Today reported Friday.

Customs and Border Protection spokesman Barry Morrissey told the newspaper: "There are enough questions marks about the safety of the device. The safety of our officers and the public is always a concern. It was determined that the device just didn't fit."

USA Today said since 1999 more than 80 people have died after being incapacitated by stun guns. The International Association of Chiefs of Police is among law enforcement groups asking for additional stun-gun research, the newspaper said.

Taser International, Inc., one manufacturer of stun guns, told USA Today the devices are a "safer alternative" to firearms and that some medical experts dispute that stun guns were contributing factors in "the few cases, out of tens of thousands of lifesaving uses" where a Taser was linked to a death.

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