Sometimes there is good news:
The use of Tasers has become increasingly controversial over the last year, following high-profile cases such as the Tasering of a 10-year-old girl who had refused to take a shower and video of a 72-year-old great-grandmother who was Tasered following a driving offense. Now a federal appeals court in San Francisco has set down new rules for when police officers are allowed to use Tasers. In particular, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Tasers can’t be used simply to force a non-violent person to bend to an officer’s will. The court’s reason was that Taser’s X26 stun gun inflicts more pain than other “non-lethal” options.
It would be naïve to assume that there will not be any market response to the ruling. We have recently seen a rash of new devices aimed at police forces, including assorted laser dazzlers and pepper ball guns as Taser alternatives. There are also portable pain beams in prospect, both microwave and infrared laser varieties, not to mention various acoustic blasters. The ruling is likely to lead to more experimentation, both technical and in the courts, to find out just what the acceptable level of pain and suffering is and how it can best be delivered.
The ruling is also a potential boost for devices such as the LED Incapacitator, which does not rely on pain but other physiological effects (disorientation, loss of balance and nausea).