The militarization of police, combined with swelling government revenues through citizen extortion, creates a demand for next-generation “less than lethal” weapons. Even as the stun gun has killed hundreds of people and injured thousands more, the state’s ability to deliver electroshock is becoming ever more efficient and frightening.
The Taser Shockwave is advertised as the first “area denial system.” A single remote-controlled unit fires 12 Taser darts in a 25 foot range across a 20 degree arc, taking down multiple protesters in a single shot. The units can be stacked vertically and horizontally, covering an area the size of a football field. The launched probes can be recharged multiple times, keeping pesky protesters writhing on the ground for several minutes.
“What if you could drop everyone in a given area to the ground?” asks a sinister promotional video.
But why limit electroshock delivery to ground-based methods? Taser drones are being developed to zap crowds from the air. Last year the CUPID drone was tested on an intern at Chaotic Moon Studios, successfully delivering 80,000 volts of electricity from the unmanned aerial vehicle. While the company did not develop the drone for commercialization, it invariably has attracted the interest of military and law enforcement.
William Hurley, the company’s co-founder, intended for the demonstration to be a wake-up call.
“We, as a society, should all be involved in the conversation of technology governance, not just the legislators who often do a knee jerk reaction, or the inventors and entrepreneurs who often don’t think about some of the consequences of their technologies,
We, as the people who have to live our everyday lives, often are either affected by or ruled by things that we never have a discussion about or are never involved in.”
The voice of restraint is lost in the white noise of corrupt bureaucracies, monied interests and the drive to subdue the citizenry.
Another advanced device called the Taser XREP was involved in the murder of James Boyd, a homeless man in Albuquerque, New Mexico, by police officer Keith Sandy. Officer Sandy had every intention of harming Mr. Boyd with the electrified 12-gauge shotgun projectile.
Stun guns were purportedly adopted by police departments as “less than lethal” or “pain compliance” weapons. However, their use is proving to significantly increase the chance of citizen injury, and they are routinely used as a form of brutality.
“Mounting evidence shows that the weapon is routinely used on people who pose little threat: those in handcuffs, in jail cells, in wheelchairs and hospital beds; schoolchildren, pregnant women, the mentally disturbed, the elderly; irate shoppers, obnoxious lawyers, argumentative drivers, nonviolent protesters — in fact, YouTube now has an entire category of videos in which people are Tasered for dubious reasons.”
The claims of safety from law enforcement and industry are predicated on a host of biased studies funded by the Taser International, Inc. or written by authors affiliated with the company.
Despite the crooked justifications, the familiar stories of death by Taser, and routine abuse by police officers, the state forges ahead with new and improved methods of electroshock delivery.