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  Taser Use Legal on Florida Children

GSU Signal | January 24, 2006
By Alexis Colvard

First it was private school vouchers, now it’s Tasers. Florida politicians are at it again, now not only trying to hinder children mentally but injure them physically. According to a recent Associated Press article, it remains legal to Taser children under 16 in Florida, despite Senate bill proposals to stop the arguably inhumane practice.

The two recent bills that were rejected in Florida stated that police could not use a stun gun on children under age 16 on school grounds. The second proposal stated that police officers who knew a child’s age or had the ability to learn a child’s age before taking action could not stun the child when they were off school grounds.

There is some argument that Tasers are not injurious weapons; that they are merely meant to stun someone who would otherwise hurt themselves or others. However, since 2001, Tasers have caused over 100 deaths in the United States and Canada. Most of these were blamed on other factors such as drug use, but Tasers were still a factor involved in the killings.

Another possible reason to keep the current Florida Taser law is the belief that policemen who cannot use stun guns to control children will have to resort to using real guns. This logic doesn’t hold up. In Hawaii, where stun guns are illegal, there have been no reports of increased gun deaths by policemen.

The argument that policemen wouldn’t know how old the child was until it was too late is flimsy at best, as the second bill accounts for this fully. Also, most children in high school, middle school or elementary school are under 16, so using this as a guide when one is doing police work at a school would be best advised. Using a stun gun at all on school grounds should be out of the question entirely; that solves the issue of trying to determine whether the child is 17 or 18 yet.

In the cases stated in the Associate Press article on the Florida Taser laws, all of the children mentioned were under age 13. If these are the majority of the kids getting Tasered, there should be no thinking involved when trying to decide whether a child has reached the age of 17 or not.

The idea that a policeman – or, as is often the case, two police officers – could not control a 12-year-old child is a ludicrous argument. A kid is likely to behave when he or she has a real gun pointed at them, whether it be a genuine threat or not, which would render a stun gun completely unnecessary in almost all circumstances. With the help of a few adults, even larger teenagers could be fairly easily controlled, being that they are usually physically smaller and, more importantly, outnumbered.

Tasers are a form of cruel and unusual punishment; and as Amnesty International pointed out in a report in 2004, they are an easy way of hurting someone to control them that leaves no visible markings. This allows officers to take advantage of their power and stun guns, using them as many times as they deem fit. Multiple stuns are what had contributed to most of the deaths involving Tasers, and if policemen were not allowed to Taser children at all, it wouldn’t have to be a concern to parents in Florida.

For those parents who worry enough about sending their children to school every day, now they must send them away knowing that, if their child has an issue, policemen have the authority and ability to Taser them when and as many times as they see necessary. This is true whether the child is truly ready to hurt themselves or someone else, or if they just decided to talk back to their superiors.


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