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May 10, 2005

Ta$er-Mania (Letter's needed)


Dear FCL Supporter,

The Assembly Appropriations Committee is considering two competing bills on Tasers, or electronic stun guns.

Tasers are being aggressively marketed to law enforcement agencies and the public. Despite the lack of independent, peer-reviewed research, the manufacturer, Taser International, claims they are safe. Claims of product safety have undoubtedly led to the casual, indiscriminate use of these devices. As Tasers are becoming more popular, we routinely read news accounts of their misuse.

Tasers fire two electronic probes at a subject. When the probes connect with the subject, they release 50,000 volts of electricity which cause the muscles to contract uncontrollably. Removing the probes often requires medical assistance.

Both the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Amnesty International have called for a moratorium on their use by law enforcement. The report by the SCLC documents 86 instances of death involving the use of Tasers by law enforcement agencies. The Department of Homeland Security has enacted a moratorium on their use by Customs and Immigration personnel. Several police departments have enacted moratoriums and the International Association of Chiefs of Police has called for a detailed study concerning their safety.

When a person discharges a firearm, they do so with the full knowledge that it will inflict serious bodily harm. But when a person uses a Taser, they do so thinking they are safe due to misleading claims by the manufacturer and because Tasers are legal. When considering the amount of testing a new medicine must undergo before it is approved for public consumption, it's hard to fathom how these devices could be legal without adequate testing.

AB 1237, by Assembly Member Mark Leno, would prohibit Tasers for public use and requires law enforcement agencies to track and report their usage to the Attorney General. FCL SUPPORTS.

AB 101, by Assembly Member Rebecca Cohn, allows the public to own and use Tasers. AB 101 requires law enforcement to undergo training for using Tasers but makes no requirement for the general public. FCL OPPOSES.

Please send a letter supporting AB 1237 and opposing AB 101 to:

Assembly Member Judy Chu
Chair, Assembly Appropriations Committee
State Capitol, Room 2114
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 319-2149.

A copy of FCL's letter is attached.

Please contact FCL if you would like copies of the reports by SCLC and Amnesty International.

Thanks in advance for your participation,

Jim Lindburg
Legislative Advocate
Phone: (916) 443-3734
Fax:     (916) 448-6109

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