Bush Okays Use of Stun Guns on Airplanes

"The Bush administration has concluded that stun guns, which inflict a disabling electric shock, can be used for security by crew members on commercial planes, a homeland security official said on Monday."

We think this is downright barbaric, dangerous and unnecessary. What if they stun the wrong person? In prisons, inmates have died from stun gun attacks.*

By the way, the reaction of the airline pilots association has been just swell--they think the usage should be extended to flight attendants in the cabin to quell disturbances. Just what we need. How long before a flight attendant overreacts and stuns a non-threatening but complaining passenger?

An article in the October 8, 2001 Air Safety Week (available on Lexis.com) pointed out:

What emerges is the potential for an arms race in the sky. If pilots start carrying stun guns, so may the "perps" (perpetrators). If the pilots are packing pistols, the perpetrators may escalate from knives and box-cutters to firearms, also. A 4-shot firearm disguised as a working mobile phone (supposedly undetectable) can be had, raising the prospect that even cell phones may have to be consigned to checked baggage. On the other hand, if the terrorists escalate to more lethal weapons, it may be entirely appropriate to pre-emptively increase the level of protection.

If armed sky marshals are deployed, and pilots are deputized and armed,
the terrorists may increase their numbers. One former airline pilot paints this scenario: "When there are multiple terrorists, historically they often operate with a 'caboose,' the guy in reserve if a sky marshal turns up. Now that will be true more than ever. Even with a gun in the cockpit, five terrorists run you out of ammunition in a hurry. Then the pilots get to beg for mercy before they die."

*Two examples: The family of Lawrence Frazier, a Connecticut inmate who died in June 2000 after guards shocked him with stun guns at Wallens Ridge State Prison, filed a $204 million lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Corrections last year in U.S. District Court in Richmond. (Roanoke Times & World News, 1/15/03); Three prison guards were charged with second degree murder in an inmate death in Florida in which a stun gun was used after the inmate was subdued (Orlando Sentinel, Feb. 13, 2002.)

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