Tasers and the rights of common citizens…

Try starting a serious policy debate about something that has been historically controversial and you can predict the conversation almost before it begins. Tasers for instance, as Newt Emeronson points out, elicit responses that have more to do with traditional pro-State/anti-State binaries than the merits or de-merits of their use in civil policing.

Tasers were banned in the UK in 1997 following an attack on a postman. As a result, Tasers are no longer available to postmen but they are readily available to criminals.
The ban doesn’t work because Tasers can be ordered online from UK auction sites or any of the various American companies, which promise “discreet shipping”. Such devices have already been used in crimes across Northern Ireland.
There is a compelling human rights case to be made for regulating their availability to the general public. But that case will not be made by the human rights commission. The commission has never brought a single case under articles 5 or 8 on behalf of a law-abiding victim of crime.

He notes towards the end:

The odds are even that the first person to be Tasered by the PSNI will be an Orange hanger-on. We may hope that shocks our elected politicians out of their entrenched positions. Because waiting on our human rights dinosaurs is a lost cause.

,

  • Shore Road Resident

    Obsessed with criminals is right. The HRC got itself a special exemption from its usual rules so it can bring cases on behalf of prisoners without a prisoner even complaining. Monica McWilliams needs to get off her hobby-horse and start delivering some objective advocacy.

  • DC

    Monica possibly has too much time on her hands.

  • Shore Road Resident

    I really want a Taser now.

  • K man

    Tasers when used in appropriate circumstances are not a breach of human rights, as speculated upon in the linked article.

    The circumstances for use are clear, only in circumstances where the only other option would be the use of live bullets.

    Bring on the volts…

  • URQUHART

    I’m a nationalist / constitutional republican. And I think they’re great.

  • joeCanuck

    The USA has a problem in that the general public can buy them courtesy of their Constitution.
    It’s truly a pity that it was so hot that day in Philidelphia when they were discussing militias and someone suggested that it was so hot they had the right to bare arms. The idiot who wrote that remark down and misspelled it should have been shot.

  • Twinbrook

    if the PSNI cannot be trusted with Plastic bullets and will not accept responsibility for those innocents, women, children and men, killed by them, how can we presume anything will change with Tasers….

    Surely the money should be spent on training the PSNI how to deal and react in a new *policing era*….

  • willis

    Hang on Twinbrook, are you saying that the PSNI cannot currently use Plastic Bullets?

  • DC

    Ah c’mon Twinbrook you’d love a chuckle watching the tangos getting Tasered.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “The USA has a problem in that the general public can buy them courtesy of their Constitution.”

    Actually, there’s no problem at all, joe.

    When one compares the crime rate in communities with stingent gun control laws with those with relaxed ones, where do you think that the crime rate is lower?

    Violence is far more correlated with high population density and diversity than the presence or lack of weapons.

    joeCanuck: ”
    It’s truly a pity that it was so hot that day in Philidelphia when they were discussing militias and someone suggested that it was so hot they had the right to bare arms. The idiot who wrote that remark down and misspelled it should have been shot. ”

    An unarmed populace is a bare step away from slavery, demostrated repeatedly in history. Predators seem to prefer their prey unarmed and unable to resist, your lame attempt at humor notwithstanding. If anything, the early drafts were even more explicit than the final text as to the individual right to bear arms.

    Twinbrook: “if the PSNI cannot be trusted with Plastic bullets and will not accept responsibility for those innocents, women, children and men, killed by them, how can we presume anything will change with Tasers…. ”

    For starters, a Tazer is a much more limited item, consisting of a pair of darts with about a 30′ (iirc) range. Usu. powered by compressed air, both darts need to strike well for the device to be effective. Not wholly efficacious, although more than good enough in most cases. Tazers can be designed (indeed, civilians ones are) to leave materials behind to identify the unit fired, unlike a rubber baton round.

    Likewise, baring a pre-existing condition, the Tazer is highly unlikely to kill the target, as opposed to the baton round… I don’t have my tables handy, but iirc, the baton round has greater range and, while not penatrative, will still tear up the target at even moderate ranges, tranferring energy from the round to the target. This can have the same effect as being hit in a vest with a large caliber lead pistol round — sure, the bullet doesn’t kill you… but the kinetic energy poisoning might.

  • aquifer

    Criminal thugs don’t have a right to viciously resist arrest, and its not fair to get dogs to bring them down as their paws might get stood on. The blood would get all over the paddywagon too. So Tazers it is.

  • joeCanuck

    When one compares the crime rate in communities with stingent(sic) gun control laws with those with relaxed ones, where do you think that the crime rate is lower?

    OK. I’ve done the comparison. The answer is that Canada has a much, much lower rate than the USA.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “OK. I’ve done the comparison. The answer is that Canada has a much, much lower rate than the USA. ”

    Weak, joe, starting with that Canada is not a single uniform community.

    But then, given your lame line about “bare arms,” perhaps serious discussion was a hope too far.

  • joeCanuck

    Well I guess now that you have lost the argument you feel you have nowhere to go except to a personal attack.
    Maybe you should check the commenting rules.

  • brendan,belfast

    You know why i have no problem in the slightest with Tasers? because i know i will never be in a position whereupon i will be fired on. I dont intend to riot, sell drugs, wave swords at cops or engage in anti social behaviour. Given all of that can i ask Monica if i have any rights?

    Of all the useless quangos out there the HRC has got to the most self absorbed ivory tower organistions of them all. And thats saying something.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    joeCanuck: “Well I guess now that you have lost the argument you feel you have nowhere to go except to a personal attack. ”

    What, pointing out that you’re not taking the topic seriously is a “personal attack?” That you trotted out perhaps the lamest Constitutional joke in the English language an insult?

    Simply put, gun control laws don’t work — Washington, D.C. has a set of laws that should insure Utopian safety, but it doesn’t work out that way.

  • Harry Flashman

    You know what joe? You’re absolutely right, Northern Ireland had the strictest gun control in western Europe for decades, you could go to jail for simply possessing a bullet, and there was no gun crime in Northern Ireland at all, it was bliss.

    Actually to be counter-intuitive, if everyone in Northern Ireland had had the right to bear arms there would have been no Troubles. Can you imagine the RUC being able to attack the Bogside if all the residents had been armed? Or if when the Orange hordes tried to burn down Bombay Street the inhabitants had met them with a wall of lead? Or the result if the Paras had tried their stunt in Rossville Street when the 20,000 marchers were all packing heat?

    When you limit ownership of guns to criminals and agents of the state and disarm the law abiding citizens then you get trouble and guess who suffers?

    I do appreciate that there is a real sheep like tendency among the left that means they can not trust their own individual selves and instead surrender their wills to the nice government people who will always look after them but I have a lot of admiration for people who are prepared to take responsibility for the safety and freedom of themselves and their family into their own hands.

  • DC

    Harry, please, are you from N Ireland?

    Most of our very vulnerable young are taking illicit drugs and the last thing we need is those poor bastards being able to lay their wee hands on their da’s gun.

    Please, they would do it.

    In certain areas suicide is often thought about and life in Northern Ireland isn’t ever going to offer either in hope or reality the dream of apparent attainable American rewards.

  • BfB

    What Dread and Harry said.
    Why I live in Florida now.

    Fortifying The Right To Self-Defense

    “Law is order, and good law is good order,” Aristotle said. Without doubt, Florida’s recently enacted “Castle Doctrine” law is good law, casting a common-sense light onto the debate over the right of self-defense. It reverses the pendulum that for too long has swung in the direction of protecting the rights of criminals over the rights of their victims. Despite predictable howling from the anti-gun media elite that Florida was taking an unprecedented and dangerous action, in truth it joined 24 other states that reject “duty-to-retreat” laws.

    Passed overwhelmingly in the state legislature–unanimously in the Senate and 94-20 in the House–;the new law removes the “duty to retreat” when citizens are outside of their homes and where they have legal right to be. It says that if a criminal breaks into your home or occupied vehicle or a place where you are camping overnight, for example, you may presume that he is there to do bodily harm and use any force, including deadly force, to protect yourself from a violent attack. Floridians who defend themselves from criminal attack are shielded by the new law from criminal prosecution and from civil suits brought by their attackers.

    In testifying for the bill, Marion P. Hammer, executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida, said: “No one knows what is in the twisted mind of a violent criminal. You can’t expect a victim to wait before taking action to protect herself and say: ‘Excuse me, Mr. Criminal, did you drag me into this alley to rape and kill me or do you just want to beat me up and steal my purse?'”

    Florida’s “Castle Doctrine” law does the following:

    One: It establishes, in law, the presumption that a criminal who forcibly enters or intrudes into your home or occupied vehicle is there to cause death or great bodily harm, so the occupant may use force, including deadly force, against that person.

    Two: It removes the “duty to retreat” if you are attacked in any place you have a right to be. You no longer have to turn your back on a criminal and try to run when attacked. Instead, you may stand your ground and fight back, meeting force with force, including deadly force, if you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to yourself or others.

    Three: It provides that persons using force authorized by law shall not be prosecuted for using such force. It also prohibits criminals and their families from suing victims for injuring or killing the criminals who have attacked them. In short, it gives rights back to law-abiding people and forces judges and prosecutors to focus on protecting victims.

    Posted: 2/6/2006 12:00:00 AM

  • Did anyone see that iTaser in the Gaurdian today, an mp3/taser?
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/09/gadgets?gusrc=rss&feed=12

  • aquifer

    Thanks very much BfB

    It is clear that the paramilitaries in Northern Ireland have been trying to enforce their own “duty to retreat” laws on the law abiding tax paying population.

    Maybe we require a ‘Duty to whup thur ass’ law when a solitary citizen is lucky enough to beat the odds and overpower a hooded and armed assailant.

    Guns jam, juvenilles overestimate their hand eye co-ordination, heavy set men trip or get disoriented, accomplices quit early.

    Some people are brave for their loved ones or just angry at the wrongness of it all. The law should grant these people special status, at least until their assailant stops begging and lies still on the ground. No-one should have to listen at length to a nobody who imagined a gun made him somebody.

  • Briso

    Posted by brendan,belfast on Jan 11, 2008 @ 12:14 AM
    You know why i have no problem in the slightest with Tasers? because i know i will never be in a position whereupon i will be fired on. I dont intend to riot, sell drugs, wave swords at cops or engage in anti social behaviour.

    Good for you. The problem is, cops are far more likely to use tasers than plastic bullets, and far more likely to use plastic bullets than lead. Your chances of being unjustly Judge Dreddised have just significantly increased. But if it happens, I’m sure you won’t mind as it will be an isolated incident compared to the safer quieter streets brought about by this device.

    Mick, what did you mean with the ‘traditional pro-state/anti-state binaries’? I mean, on which side of the fence is an ‘anti-state’ person expected to be?

  • brendan,belfast

    Briso – “I’m sure you won’t mind as it will be an isolated incident compared to the safer quieter streets brought about by this device.”

    spot on. and in general terms if the CAJ / HRC / crazy local branch of Amnesty are against something, i tend to be all for it.

  • Briso

    Posted by brendan,belfast on Jan 11, 2008 @ 10:59 AMspot on. and in general terms if the CAJ / HRC / crazy local branch of Amnesty are against something, i tend to be all for it.

    If you volunteer for a 30 second tazing, I’ll shut up.

    BTW, Newt’s example of the man with the sword proves my point. He should have been shot when he became a threat to life. By lead bullets. If this wasn’t the case (I don’t know the details), arrest him afterwards.

  • The Dubliner

    I think all political all journalists should be allowed carry Tazers. That way, at least one of them is bound to shun the Chuckle Brothers when they launch into their smarmy routine.

  • BfB

    aquifer
    ‘Guns jam, juvenilles overestimate their hand eye co-ordination, heavy set men trip or get disoriented, accomplices quit early.’No-one should have to listen at length to a nobody who imagined a gun made him somebody.’

    If you don’t like guns, don’t get one. Let every man decide for himself. The reality, supported by massive statistics is, less gun laws, safer society. No one has thrown a petrol bomb around here…….ever.

    ‘No-one should have to listen at length to a nobody who imagined a gun made him somebody.’

    Are we shooting the messenger? (so to speak)

  • Wilde Rover

    Abdul-Rahim,

    Yes, with the MP3 player. What next, Multimedia Tazers? Text and Taze? Champion’s League Updates and Taze?

    Surf and Shock? Download and Destroy?

    Will I have feelings of tazer inadequacy for having the older model of tazer, unwilling to put it on the table in the bar for fear that I might be tazed for being so naff?

  • joeCanuck

    supported by massive statistics

    Care to give at least one source, BfB?

  • BfB

    Hey Hosehead….

    http://tinyurl.com/2tzumx

    Start with this. I’m a bit busy..
    But I have tons more.
    enjoy
    No offense on the hosehead thing…

  • URUQHART

    Brendan Belfast: “Of all the useless quangos out there the HRC has got to the most self absorbed ivory tower organistions of them all”

    Bullshit. The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People wins that category hands down.

  • joeCanuck

    Thank you for trying.
    I asked for sources and you directed me to an article in a magazine which makes a load of assertions but doesn’t back them up with any relevant sources either.
    Waste of time.

  • BfB

    Here ya go moosehead. (not that that’s a bad thing)

    http://tinyurl.com/28ra8c

    The little numbers after some of the words refer to the sources used to compile the words in sentences.
    Be sure to refer to the bottom of the page and match the little number with the reference number. And then you have to actually read the source.

  • BfB

    And not to knock you off your high err… moose.
    But
    http://tinyurl.com/2nf8xj

  • fair’s fair

    “Actually to be counter-intuitive, if everyone in Northern Ireland had had the right to bear arms there would have been no Troubles. Can you imagine the RUC being able to attack the Bogside if all the residents had been armed? Or if when the Orange hordes tried to burn down Bombay Street the inhabitants had met them with a wall of lead? Or the result if the Paras had tried their stunt in Rossville Street when the 20,000 marchers were all packing heat?”

    Or if the brave not sectarian at all republican boys who walked into a church hall in Darkley, or lined up workers from a bus at Kingsmill, or who shot hundreds of the unarmed all over the country, had faced people ‘packing heat’?

  • joeCanuck

    Sorry.
    Once bitten, twice shy. You obviously have more time to waste than me.
    BTW, since you do have the time, make sure those links or references can demonstrate causal relationships and not mere correlations.

  • Damian

    Threatening a police officer with a sword in the hand = suicide by police.

    This debate is characterised by constant reference to plastic bullets. The implicit reference is, times have changed, this is ok now.

    For me, this is a detailed question about what arms manufacturers produce, and what criminals produce. The ‘human rights brigade’ accurately point out indiscriminate deaths, the PSNI show legitimate, if eternal, images of personal threat.

    Significantly, this is not a RUC v/= PSNI question.

    However, as a question of good policing, I would ask for sound media guidance. Isn’t the role of the BBC to inform, educate and entertain?

    What are the alernatives, and why don’t we know what they are?

  • BfB

    JC,

    You Liberal Canadians are so gracious in defeat. Still smarting from the Tory ass kicking eh? How’s that whole billion dollar gun registration thing working out for ya? I could post a few more FACTS for you to ignore if you like. Stick to backassward opinions of someone else’s country, you’re much better at it.

  • joeCanuck

    hehehehehehe

    You are more that welcome to your fantasies, so long as they are harmless.

  • Harry Flashman

    *Or if the brave not sectarian at all republican boys who walked into a church hall in Darkley, or lined up workers from a bus at Kingsmill, or who shot hundreds of the unarmed all over the country, had faced people ‘packing heat’?*

    Yes, most definitely.

    Only in a society where the law abiding citizens are the only people who cannot access self defence, could ten adult men be lined up against a bus and murdered en masse, imagine the difference if only one or two of those poor mill workers had had a gun, instead they were slaughtered like sheep in a ditch.

  • brendan,belfast

    URQUHART you said: “The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People wins that category hands down.”

    you know this a hell of an argument to be having. which if our quangos is the most useless? Who is worse, Lewsley or McWilliams? says a lot about the pair of them.

  • BfB

    Ya might want to rethink the whole Taser thing…

    http://tinyurl.com/yvboxw

  • Gum

    This is a dangerous and sad step. Dangerous as it cannot help policing (if in doubt – taser, as opposed to careful handling of a situation by trained policemen). Sad because its another example of where we are going as a society. Vicious weapons such as tasers xan only accentuate existing fear and mistrust. If we want to make our society safer and more cohesive we’d be better putting more money into training our policemen to higher levels; putting more policemen on the streets; and ending our absurd policy of up to 50% remission on sentences.