Police and other law enforcement agencies around the world are making use of non lethal weapons in ever-increasing numbers. Weapons such as stun guns, stun batons and TASER devices are showing up on the utility belts of people charged with keeping members of the public safe in as many situations as possible. They try to provide protection while facing incredibly dangerous situations and greatly reducing the use of ordinary firearms.
Ottawa police officers are now outfitted with TASER Devices, which not only function as police stun guns but are also capable of firing barbed projectiles attached to insulated wires up to 15 feet long. Once in contact with the subject, a "stunning" pulse of voltage interferes with the subject's voluntary muscle control and leaves him in extreme discomfort on the ground. The effects can last for up to 15 minutes and provide police officers with enough time to subdue and shackle and/or transport the subject without undue harm.
New York City's Finest are currently being equipped with stun weapons as a result of an independently conducted study. The results of Rand Corporation's subsequent report, based on an independent study, showed that in 25 of 455 police-involved shootings the confrontations would likely have ended more quickly by using a "less lethal device," like a Taser rather than a traditional firearm.
In its study, Rand found that at least three of 45 fatal shootings during a three-year timeframe could well have been avoided had police officers been equipped with non-lethal options, such as Tasers. The report figured heavily in the New York City Police department's decision, made several days following the report, to begin equipping officers with Tasers.
Naysayers argue that some deaths are related to having been stunned. However, study after study shows that the number of lethal encounters between law enforcement officials and criminals, would-be criminals, and demonstrators or protestors has decreased in areas where officers are equipped with stun weapons in addition to ordinary firearms.
The point is that police stun guns provide law enforcement and security officers with an intermediate option before ratcheting up the lethality scale. Especially in the case of TASER Devices, criminals and would-be perpetrators can be stopped up to 15 feet away from the officers. More distance means more safety for authorities. It also reduces the likelihood of a lethal encounter from the perspective of the perpetrator or other unruly citizens.
All-in-all, most people would prefer being stunned to being shot.