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Warning on Taser Guns
by AAP Saturday, Feb. 26, 2005 at 8:30 PM

Geelong Advertiser (Regional Daily) November 14, 2004 News, pg. 23

A MINISTERIAL advisory group expressed concern about the safety of stun guns ahead of a Victoria Police trial of the weapons, a report obtained under Freedom of Information has revealed.

In the report, obtained by a coalition of Victorian legal groups, the advisory group that discussed the possible introduction of Air Tasers said there was a lack of scientific evidence about their safety.

A 12-month trial of the guns by the force's special operations group is expected to end later this month.

In its report, the ministerial advisory group said the use of Tasers had been found to increase the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women, heart attack and stroke in people with cardiovascular disease and sudden death in people taking drugs.

Other groups on whom a Taser should not be used included children, adolescents, older people and people with mental illness.

The 12-month trial was launched on the basis of a study on Tasers conducted by Melbourne's Alfred Hospital.

But the coalition of legal groups described the study as a literature review, saying the guns were dangerous and had resulted in 60 deaths in the United States.

Mental Health Legal Centre spokeswoman Kate Lawrence said people with mental illnesses were commonly victims of stun guns.

She said mental health professionals should work with police as they had in the past in crisis situations.

Taser guns work by firing electrode tipped wires from a distance of up to seven metres, the group said.

The two darts deliver a series of short 50,000-volt shocks over five seconds, briefly stunning the target.

Victorian Police Union secretary Paul Mullett said the coalition of legal groups should not deny police access to Tasers, which had been shown to be effective in disarming people without injuring them.

The guns had been issued to police forces in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe, he said.

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