“”Don't tase me, bro!
A Taser™ is a weapon that fires small darts attached to electric wires with the intention of incapacitating the victim with very painful, but (usually) non-lethal jolts of electricity. The darts are expelled by nitrogen gas, similar to paint ball and air guns. The electricity disables voluntary muscle use, resulting in the victim convulsing on the ground. Less powerful ones have been developed for use by civilians, but they are not legal in all locations.
Many tasers have another setting, "Drive Stun", which involves holding the taser to the victim. Unlike regular tasing, it does not incapacitate the nervous system, but instead just delivers unbelievable pain to the victim. Many groups have expressed concern that this is a form of torture.
Tasers have become standard issue for police officers and security guards around the United States of America as a less lethal alternative to firearms. They are a part of a class of weapons referred to as less than lethal weapons. Other less than lethal weapons would be tear gas/pepper spray, rubber bullets, bean bag rounds or similar devices. After a rash of questionable police shootings in major cities across the country, community activists began pressuring police departments to switch from guns to tasers.
However, rather than being an instrument of last resort, like firearms, tasers have become a first instrument of control. There have been reports of elementary school kids, old ladies and even unconscious, convulsing diabetics being tased due to being "uncooperative."
In 2010, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that such use of tasers is blatantly illegal. Now, it is left to see whether cops in general will abide by the ruling, and whether the US can get back to being a state where being slightly disruptive does not lead to 10,000 volts through your body.
Many European countries have completely forbidden the use of tasers, due to their high potential for misuse. Canada classifies them as a prohibited weapon (placing them alongside fully automatic firearms), but they are issued by some police departments and the RCMP. In Poland, however, they are even less restricted than in the US.