People for a Taser-Free Columbia strive for ballot issue

Friday, April 2, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Representatives of People for a Taser-Free Columbia said Thursday they will try to put a proposition on the November ballot that would ban Taser use in the city.

"We've looked  all across the country and all across the world, and there are bans being talked about all over the world," said member Kyle Broadus, a lawyer who helped write the proposal. "I think that this issue should be decided by the people. ... I think that this issue should  be put on the ballot for the people."

The number of participants in Tuesday's municipal election will determine the number of signatures the group needs to get the proposition on the ballot. The group will need to get 20 percent of the number of people who vote in the election for mayor on Tuesday.

"This is a target on the instrument itself — that it is not reliable, it is not controllable and that is being used on everybody," Broadus said.

Group member Mary Hussmann said Tasers are unregulated and dangerous. "There isn't really any check on the quality control," she said.

The group said that since Feb. 1 it has collected more than 825 signatures and has 40 volunteers committed to help gather more in the petition drive.

Member Katherine Murrie said she thinks that Tasers are a public health concern on par with smoking and that they pose a particular danger to people with heart problems and diabetes.

Broadus said there's a problem of perception surrounding Tasers.

"We have become too desensitized that we just don't think (Tasers are) dangerous," Broadus said.

People for a Taser-Free Columbia has pressed the Columbia Police Department and City Council to strengthen guidelines for the use of Tasers.

The proposition would address only the use of Tasers, not the ownership, purchase or sale of them. Taser use would be a class A misdemeanor.

"When we started, we thought they were able to be controlled," Hussmann said. "We don't arrive at this decision lightly."

The group will hold a fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. April 9 at Café Berlin, 220 N. Tenth St., to kick off the next round of signature collection. There will be snacks and drinks available. Admission will be $5.

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Carl Kabler April 3, 2010 | 9:09 p.m.

I thought there were some comments here earlier, what happened to them?

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