Column: Taser ban a threat to rights

On Nov. 2, Columbia residents will vote on an initiative that would ban the use of Tasers within the city. Aside from being in direct violation of the Second Amendment, this ban also threatens the security of law-abiding citizens and the effectiveness of law enforcement.

As a young woman living on my own, I have become familiar with basic self-defense strategies: stay in well-lit areas, don’t walk home alone at night, etc.

Sometimes, however, these strategies can prove ineffective. I work at a restaurant and often do not get off work until 1 or 2 a.m. and I walk three blocks back to my apartment. For this and many other reasons, I own a Taser.

Fortunately, I have never been in a situation that merited the use of my Taser, but if the situation arose, would I not deserve the right to protect myself from bodily harm? How can we truly “take back the night” by continually making it harder for women to protect themselves? If I am being assaulted, it is my basic right to forcefully put a stop to it by whatever means necessary.

In addition to stripping citizens of the ability to protect themselves, the proposed ban also violates the U.S. Constitution. In June, in the landmark decision McDonald vs. City of Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Chicago’s ban on handguns, citing it as a direct violation of the Second Amendment, which guarantees Americans the right to bear arms.

The court has also overturned a similar ban in Washington D.C. Columbia’s proposed Taser ban is a similar violation of our Second Amendment rights.

Basic common sense tells me that the Taser ban is a bad idea for law enforcement. Whether you like it or not, there will always be cases where a suspect will resist arrest, even through the use of violence.

While it is important that police officers do not use unnecessary force in the line of duty, it is also important that they have means of effectively subduing a violent, resistant suspect. The Taser, when used appropriately and with proper training, can effectively subdue a suspect while doing as little harm as possible.

While many proponents of the ban decry the use of the Taser as dangerous and cruel, there is simply no plausible alternative. Do we really want police officers beating aggressive suspects with batons, or even worse, shooting them? How else can they subdue a suspect while inflicting minimal harm?

Others cite the legal costs associated with the use of the Taser as reason for banning it. While there are rare cases where Tasers have caused serious injury and lawsuits, one must also remember that the alternatives, batons and bullets, always cause serious injury. If the legal costs of using Tasers are too high, how will other, stronger uses of force affect legal costs? The cost of lawsuits would only increase by banning the Taser.

I am a young, law-abiding citizen. I work hard and contribute to the community, and I do not want to fear for my safety as I walk home alone after a late shift at work. I would rather police officers use Tasers than bullets and I value my Second Amendment rights. I hope Columbia residents agree with me on Election Day and vote against the Taser ban.

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