Petition to ban Tasers approved for City Council consideration

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | 11:13 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — It is now up to the City Council to decide the fate of an ordinance banning the use of Tasers in Columbia.

City Clerk Sheela Amin notified People for a Taser-Free Columbia on Monday that their petition had met the requirement of at least 3,667 registered voter signatures and can now be presented as an ordinance to the City Council for consideration.

Rummage sale to raise funds

A rummage sale, sponsored by People for a Taser-Free Columbia, will be held to help raise funds for public education and activism to promote the Taser ban ordinance. The sale will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the Old Labor Temple, 611 N. Garth Avenue. Donations of sale items can be dropped off from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Old Labor Temple.

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The ordinance would ban the use or threat to use of Tasers and any Conducted Electrical Devices.

The first submission of the petition on June 2 came up short by 494 signatures because not everyone who signed it was a registered voter. A second submission of 900 additional signatures July 6 brought the petition up to the minimum requirement.

According to a news release, the Taser-Free campaign believes the use of Tasers and CEDs should be banned due to their unpredictability and unreliability. The release also cites "thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths (that) have occurred in conjunction with or after tasing" as evidence of the potential danger of these devices.

Catherine Parke, a member of People for a Taser-Free Columbia, said the unpredictability of these devices is a danger to both those who operate them and those on the receiving end of a shock.

In October 2009, Taser International, a company that manufactures Tasers for law enforcement, military and personal protection use, issued a new warning cautioning users to avoid targeting the chest area with their devices, as it could cause damage to the target's heart.

Parke believes this is just one more reason Tasers pose an unnecessary risk and should be banned.

"If the corporation that makes, markets and sells (Tasers) is still figuring out what they do, they shouldn't be used in our community," she said.

The City Council will now have the opportunity to review and vote on the ordinance. The first reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the Aug. 2 Council meeting. The second reading and vote are scheduled for Aug. 16.

If the Council does not pass the ordinance, it would be put on the ballot for the Nov. 2 election, and Columbia residents will have the final say.

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