January 11, 2006

Light 'Em Up!

I have written before about the role that Less Than Lethal weapons fill. The Reader's Digest version is that chemical spray is great, expanding batons are only slightly less wonderful, and electric stun guns are a waste of time.

This, of course, only applies if you are acting alone. Those electric stunners can be effective if you have a buddy along to help subdue the perp after you put them on the ground. That means they're useful to the cops, less so for the rest of us.

Cops in Great Britain have started to carry TASERs, those pistol-grip stun guns. This article states that, in some police forces, only officers cleared to carry firearms will be issued the TASER.

I wonder if civilians in Great Britain are able to legally own and use stun guns for their defense? I'm having trouble finding any sources on the Internet, but I'd say not. According to this page on a server owned by an anti-weapon activist group, electric stun weapons were banned in the United Kingdon in 1988 after some criminals used them in a few crimes.

That's hardly a credible source in my mind, so I'll keep looking

Posted by James Rummel at January 11, 2006 04:53 PM | TrackBack

British Customs Form and the relevant portion with my emphasis. Brits are restricted from anything that might enable them to defend themselves.

Prohibited and restricted goods include:

Controlled drugs such as opium, heroin, cocaine,
MDMA (Ecstasy), morphine, cannabis, amphetamines
and lysergide (LSD).

Firearms (including gas pistols, electric shock batons, stun guns and similar weapons), ammunition and explosives (including flares incorporating a barrel).

Posted by: Zendo Deb at January 11, 2006 05:43 PM

Banned-in-Blighty and all that, and I believe that I read in a BritBlog that the use of prohibited stun-guns in crimes has increased: rape, theft, etc, - imagine that!

Posted by: -keith in mtn. view at January 11, 2006 06:03 PM

Let me pick nits for a moment and say that, AFAIK, there's big differences between Tasers and stun-guns.

Stun-guns, as I've always heard them described, are those handheld gizmos about the size of a pack of cards that have small metal probes sticking out. To use them, you jam them against the body of the assailant and hit a button, sending a jolt of current through the probes and intervening flesh.

Tasers are the things that shoot out barbed darts with wires leading back to the unit held in the hand, which then sends a pulsing current through the wires and imbedded probes.

Practically (from everything I've read), stun-guns suck. They neither immobilize or really cause all that much pain (at least, not so much a motivated person couldn't shrug off the effects), and even then they're really unreliable due to the fact that all you're doing is pressing a couple of metal nubs against the guy. Heavy clothing, movement, etc. all can cause the probes to not make good contact. Not to mention that to use it you have to get right up next to him - putting you in range of whatever hand weapon he has. No thanks!

Now, while not infallible either, Tasers seem to have a better reputation these days. The probes are fired forcefully, so they usually make good contact (barring heavy winter clothing), and they stick when they hit. The new Tasers use a pulsed current that is apparently much better than the old Taser's "steady" current at immobilizing the target through involuntary muscle spasms. Of course, it's not a long-range weapon by any means, but 15-21 feet or so's better than contact distances.

Still, it's questionable that even the new fancy-dancy Tasers are all that great for civilians. After all, all they do is immobilize for a short amount of time (the manufacturer says "a few minutes" - I'd divide that by at least half). That's great if you're Mr. Popo with handcuffs and backup a radio call away (if not, as you say, there already). Not so great if you're Joe Schmoe wondering if you can get away before the guy gets up...or if there's more than one of them. Now the new ones can also act as stun-gun after the probes are fired (ie poke 'em and they get shocked), but that still seems less than ideal for the reasons given above.

All in all, there's a reason defensive use of guns statistically leads to lower injury and crime completion rates in a violent attack. Because, while no weapon is perfect, firearms are more effective protection than anything else we've got!

And it's a damn shame folks overseas don't see that.

Posted by: Cliff S. at January 12, 2006 01:49 AM

Per House of Commons

Stun guns are prohibited weapons and can only be possessed with the authority of the Secretary of State under section five of the Firearms Act 1968. Only one authority to possess a stun gun has been issued in England and Wales.

Posted by: trainer at January 14, 2006 06:40 PM
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