In George Lucas’ film THX 1138 (1970), the police in a futuristic state make citizens compliant by shocking them with “pain prods.” After seeing the movie, I remember thinking that if the police were ever allowed to use implements such as these, we would rapidly move into a police state. This has now happened with tasers.
Tasers are electro-shock weapons that are currently used by more than 11,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States. Designed to cause instant incapacitation by delivering a 50,000-volt shock, tasers are hand-held electronic stun guns that fire two barbed darts. The darts, which usually remain attached to the gun by wires, deliver a high voltage shock and can penetrate up to two inches of clothing or skin. The darts can strike the subject from a distance of up to 35 feet, or the taser can be applied directly to the skin. Although a taser shot is capable of jamming the central nervous system for up to 30 seconds, it can disable the subject for even longer. And because tasers can be aimed anywhere on the body, they can immobilize someone more easily than pepper spray, which must be sprayed in the face.