Law Enforcement Concerns Over The Public Sale Of Tasers - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/15/04-Tyler

Law Enforcement Concerns Over The Public Sale Of Tasers

Local law enforcement is concerned as a weapon they use in their job is now becoming available to the public: A taser gun.

It can deliver a sudden shock of 50 thousand volts.

Police departments across East Texas have used tasers to subdue violent suspects.

It's been a last resort before using lethal force.

But nationwide more than fifty people have died after being subdued by a taser, including one person in North Texas.

Law officers go through training before handling tasers in the field, something that will be hard to regulate in the public.

Sergeant Richard Fulford of the Smith County Sheriff?s

Department is concerned with the public sale of tasers.

It's going to be a great detriment to the law enforcement, he said. For an officer to come up to a disturbance scene for instance and have someone come out with a taser and make a charge at him, you'd have to use force to defend yourself.

It's such an electrical charge that it will incapacitate a person, Fulford said. With an officer you are carrying a firearm, ammunition, mace, a night stick, all these items are restricted as far as law enforcement use. If someone was to incapacitate me they would have access to these weapons.

Taser International distributes the X-26 to law agencies.

Now, interested buyers can log on to the company's web site and purchase the product.

The company does have a memorandum on its web site addressing legal restrictions.

It says,  A TASER conducted energy weapon is not classified as a firearm by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Therefore, fire-arms related regulations do not apply to the sale and distribution.

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham believes tasers should be regulated in the same manner as concealed handguns.

If we ensure that those individuals who are not criminals are able to carry them, he said, then I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I think taser guns in the hands of criminals is a bad thing.consumer.

Currently the state of Texas does not have restrictions on the public sale of tasers. Law enforcement officers hope that will change soon. The cost of an X-26 is $1,000.

Law officials believe the high price of the product will keep it out of the hands of the average

Story by Maya Golden, mgolden@kltv.com

 

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