26 June 2008

Braidwood Taser Inquiry: Reclassify tasers as firearms, hence potentially deadly

Tasers should be reclassified.

Complaint commissioner urges that police officers view tasers as potentially deadly rather than safe, and that they not use them as devices of convenience.

B.C.'s police complaint commissioner, Dirk Ryneveld, has told the Braidwood Inquiry that Tasers may be misclassified as prohibited weapons, as opposed to prohibited firearms, as defined under Canada's criminal code.

Ryneveld told the public inquiry on Wednesday the distinction is important because the classification determines how police use the controversial stun guns.

"If this is a prohibited firearm, it must be authorized for use. And if their paperwork is misclassified as a prohibited weapon, then the restrictions on its use, and the reporting and the training and the certification don’t apply to the Taser, whereas perhaps it should," said Ryneveld.

He also told the inquiry police need to use Tasers knowing that they could be lethal, not with the belief that they are a safe, non-lethal alternative to a gun.

“Unfortunately, the Taser has become a tool of convenience in some situations. Sort of a come along device. ‘Drop the beer!’ No? Zap!” said Ryneveld.

These are pretty blunt statements and I applaud Ryneveld for making them.

Now, will law enforcement and the Harper government heed them?

Only time will tell (the Inquiry has adjourned for summer and resumes October 20th). Unfortunately, time isn't something which future taser victims have.

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