Columbia voters have the opportunity to make our community safer, while preventing possible deaths and costly taxpayer-funded lawsuits in the future. I urge citizens to vote "yes" for Proposition 2. It would make it unlawful to use or threaten to use Tasers and all other conducted electrical devices (CEDs) within the city limits. This ban does not affect ownership of CEDs. The local law would apply to law enforcement and all other residents.
Recently, the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation Guidance Core unanimously voted to support the efforts of the Taser-Free Columbia Campaign. FOR is an international social justice and peace group.
Our local chapter, which I help coordinate, was formed in 1961. Tasers are inadequately and inaccurately dubbed "non-lethal." Such non-lethal weapons have already claimed more than 500 lives on our continent, including that of a young man in Moberly. They are weapons, which via the sending of 50,000 volts of electricity, violently incapacitate an individual.
These stun guns should have no place in our community grounded in being civil with one another. The use of these weapons has led to the serious injury of at least a couple individuals shocked by police. With all police officers possessing these weapons, the prospect of someone being killed remains tragically possible.
Police officers are indeed in many challenging situations. On a daily basis they are forced to deal with individuals who have been marginalized in our society, perhaps through a combination of mental illness and lack of social services, job layoffs, et cetera. These weapons have the possibility to incite others to erode trust with officers and perhaps prompt other violence from angry citizens. Nonviolent mediation and conflict resolution are much better tactics to employ. We with the FOR are concerned for the welfare of police officers, just as we are about any global citizens, including those living in our community who could be shocked with a Taser.
By supporting Proposition 2, voters will speak out for greater public safety. Please do so on Nov. 2.
Jeff Stack lives in Columbia.