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LETTER: Taser ban will make community safer

Monday, October 18, 2010 | 12:38 p.m. CDT

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.


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Comments

Carl Campbell October 18, 2010 | 1:47 p.m.

I disagree with the author. If the only tool available to the police is a firearm then more people are going to be shot. Sure a tazer is a scary weapon. But that fear is what causes deterrance. If you dont want to be tazed comply with the arrest and your atty and you can discuss it after booking.

(Report Comment)
Andrew Hansen October 18, 2010 | 1:55 p.m.

"Such non-lethal weapons have already claimed more than 500 lives on our continent..."
.
500 over what sort of timespan?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 18, 2010 | 2:13 p.m.

It's been an interesting few says here in this newspaper. On one hand we've had arguments that having armed students (carrying concealed weapons) on campus will make the campus safer, yet taking tasers away from law enforcement officers will somehow make our community safer.

Is there some dichotomy in all this?

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock October 18, 2010 | 2:52 p.m.

Ellis,

If you're asking whether the column on conceal-carry permits by Corey Motley is at all related to this letter, they're not. Mr. Motley's column was his own idea and his own opinion. Readers are free to agree or disagree all they want. There is no other discussion to the merits of that column other than what is happening here (i.e. If MU is considering endorsing such a change, I sure haven't seen any news coverage of it).

Mr. Stack's letter is also his own opinion that readers can either agree or disagree with. His letter, however, does have a news peg -- Proposition 2, which would ban the use of Tasers within Columbia city limits. The vote on that proposition is coming up Nov. 2.

It may seem a little surprising to see two editorial pieces seemingly at odds displayed in the same opinion section, but that's part of what I like to call the "big tent" approach (apologies to those who already use that analogy): Our readers have a diverse range of ideas, values and opinions, and the opinion section should reflect that diversity.

The only agenda we're pushing is the agenda that anyone's voice can and should be heard.

Thanks,

Jake Sherlock
Opinion Editor

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 18, 2010 | 3:34 p.m.

@ Jake Sherlock:

My remark concerned only the respective PROPOSALS being made.

Let the students pack concealed weapons, but take away a useful tool from law enforcement officers. Oh my! We certainly live in an interesting world.

(Report Comment)
Chris Cady October 18, 2010 | 4:36 p.m.

500 over some period of time, for the "continent" which presumably includes Canada and Central and South America. Compared to thousands of fatal shootings by police in the US per year. It is difficult to find an exact number. I also am not passing judgement on how many were 'justified', just pointing out the massive number.

I echo the point was already made by another commentor: if given other tools besides a firearm, maybe fewer will be killed. Have you thought about that?

Do you think just declaring our community a polite place will remove all need for weaponry? I wish it were so, I really do. In an imperfect world, I look for the lesser of evils.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 19, 2010 | 12:43 p.m.

Just noticed something interesting about the caption assigned to the letter.

With a one word change it could sum up the views of those
who do not want a ban on tasers.

"Taser ban will make community SUFFER."

Amazing what a one word change can produce.

(Report Comment)

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