Monday, January 10, 2005

Taser "safety" questioned: I am shocked and stunned

So the Arizona company maker of stun guns, Taser, International Inc. ("Saving Lives Everyday"), wants to enter the "consumer" market. How delightful. But there is a hitch. Their claim to have received an order for 1000 stun guns from firearms distributor Davidson's Inc. may have been premature and designed to inflate its end-of-quarter balance sheet at a time when there is increasing concern about the "safety" of their product. On news that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was investigating the safety claims, the stock fell 18%.

We don't usually do "business" stories here, but this one is an opportunity to comment on a weird situation in the consumer product safety area. The main issue is whether the Taser is "safe" for consumer use. Safe? It's a goddam stun gun! Moreover one that seems to be lethal, contrary to the company's claims. Amnesty International says that Tasers have been responsible for more than 70 deaths in the US and Canada, but:
Taser International denies any connection and says its weapons have been deemed safe by British and U.S. governments.
Oh, in that case, nevermind.

But here's what bothers me. Debating whether the Taser is "safe" as a consumer product seems quite weird when another "consumer product," handguns, gets a free pass.

Obviously I am not arguing to give them both free passes.