As students, we’ve been told since the start of our application process how safe Mercyhurst College is. What message will be sent, then, if Police & Safety officers are permitted to carry Tasers on campus?
For clarification purposes, a Taser fires three small, dart-like electrodes which are pointed to penetrate clothing and barbed to prevent removal once in place. The subsequent electrical flow interrupts the ability of the brain to control the muscles in the body.
Tasers have become highly controversial, as their use has been blamed for over 245 deaths and numerous serious injuries on previously healthy individuals, inducing impaired breathing and respiration, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrests and seizures.
Despite Taser International’s claims that the device causes incapacitation without pain, both Amnesty International and the United Nations (U.N.) have declared that “Taser electronic stun guns are a form of torture that can kill.”
Even volunteers who have been Tased as part of police or military training have said the experience was painful, even on a healthy, calm individual in a relaxed and controlled environment. However, the real-life target of a Taser is, if not mentally or physically unsound, in a state of high stress and in the midst of a confrontation. This heightens the risk of serious injury or death.
The use of Tasers is also attributed to the increased and often unnecessary use of force. Originally, Tasers were only used when officers or the public were threatened with a weapon; currently, they are being used without warning to surprise suspects before being arrested.
Overall, I believe that the use of Tasers is, as stated by Amnesty International, a human rights violation. Other methods of defense, such as pepper spray, have been used effectively against suspects and without serious adverse effects. Pepper spray can also be used from a distance, just as Tasers can.
It would be an abomination to allow Tasers on campus. We are a school highly respected and well-known for our safety, and we are not situated in a high-crime area. I think the presence of Tasers on campus would cause people to feel less safe, rather than more so.
The mindset would quickly translate from, ‘they’re just a precaution,’ to, ‘are we at so much risk here that Police and Safety needs to carry around Tasers?’
Until definitively proved otherwise, the answer should be a resounding ‘no.’