Over the past year, there’s been a slight increase in the number of attacks on New York City transit workers. State Senator Eric Adams’ solution: give those workers Tasers.
Adams currently is pushing a bill through the appropriate committees in the state Legislature that would add transit workers to the list of city employees authorized to carry — and use — stun guns.
“When something jumps off, it often takes police a long time to respond,” Adams tells the Voice. “[If transit workers had Tasers] it could save a life that might be lost waiting for the police to show up.”
Adams explains that his bill wouldn’t require transit workers to carry Tasers, but that it would give them the option to. A former transit cop himself, Adams says a non-lethal solution could help prevent assaults of transit employees, commuters, and could even prevent a terrorist attack.
“[Stun guns] could prevent someone from setting off an explosive device on a subway, or on a bridge,” he says, noting that it’s tough to detonate a bomb with 50,000 volts of electricity running through your body.
Adams says he was first sold on stun guns when he was returning from a trip to China. He says he woke up and heard a woman screaming because a man was sexually assaulting her on the airplane. Adams says he and others tried to detain the man, but it was difficult. A stun gun, he says, would have been the perfect (almost) non-lethal solution.
The only problem we see with stun guns in the hands of transit workers, or anyone really — as we explained to Adams — is that because they’re considered “non-lethal,” authorities tend to be a bit liberal when it comes to using them, and that’s because the consequences of being trigger-happy with a Taser are — in most cases — are less severe than they are with an actual firearm.
However, stun guns aren’t always “non-lethal” — just ask the family of Marty Atencio, a military veteran zapped to death by police in Phoenix, Arizona, for no apparent reason (click here to watch what can happen when a few goons on power trips get their hands on stun guns — and use them indiscriminately).
While working for another publication, we wrote about Taser International — the company that makes the stun guns used by most police departments —
fairly frequently. At one point, it seemed like a day didn’t go by that we didn’t get some email from the company explaining that a medical examiner somewhere in America had determined that the death of a person who was zapped by police was caused by drugs — or some other reason — and not because they’d been electrocuted by cops. The emails came across as though the company was saying “See? See, guys? Told you it wasn’t us.” Click here for a few examples.
In many of those cases, however, getting shocked with tens-of-thousands of volts of electricity probably didn’t help things (especially for a person with a heart full of crystal meth, or some other brand of upper) and probably could have been avoided.
In other words, stun guns can work great — as long as they’re used conservatively and aren’t in the hands of trigger-happy maniacs.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 17, 2012