Amnesty International-Taser Debate

A debate on the use of tasersthe devices that use electric shock to stop attackersled by William Schultz, executive director of Amnesty International U.S.A., and Patrick Smith, CEO of Taser International Inc., will be held at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9. The event is free and open to the public with seating on a first-come basis.

Sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights, the debate will address recent controversy over the humaneness of taser use, spurred by the publication of Amnesty International’s Nov. 2004 report Excessive and Lethal Force? In their findings, Amnesty International calls for the suspension of taser use, pending a rigorous investigation into the safety and effectiveness of electro-shock weapons, which they charge have caused the deaths of 70 people in the U.S. and Canada since 2001. Concerns include possible abuses by unscrupulous officials, as well as the effects of using the weapons on individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.

Taser International Inc. maintains that its products, deployed by more than 5,000 law enforcement agencies, are a life-saving alternative for law enforcement officers, among the safest use-of-forces options available. Boards of medical experts and studies in the United States, UK, Canada, and other countries confirm the life-saving value of Taser technology. Taser International values independent reviews of its products and supports continued study of the use of Taser technology.

The event will be moderated by Edward Haley, W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of International Strategic Studies and acting director for the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights. “The main impetus for the debate is the combination of the issue’s significance in public affairs and the Center’s interest in human rights,” he says. “This event is a natural for the Center, given its mission.”

For additional information contact the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum at 909-621-8244. For media arrangements contact Evie Lazzarino at 909-607-9099.