Stun guns to include video

Video camera-clad electricity weapons aim to create chain of evidence, ensure legal use. Photo: Taping the shock

Two manufacturers of stun guns will equip their weapons with video cameras next year in an effort to ensure that the weapons aren't used inappropriately.

Stinger Systems, based in Charlotte, N.C., will start selling an add-on for its guns called the TruVu camera that will film MPEG 4 video in the first quarter, the company said earlier this month, while rival Taser International will release an audio/video recorder in the first half of next year.

The video cameras will essentially record whenever a person is hit with one of the guns, which immobilize a victim by shooting massive amounts of electricity through them. The electricity does not kill or permanently damage a person hit, according to the companies, but being hit hurts quite a bit.

Critics charge that the guns are dangerous and are misused. Police, on the other hand, say the weapons are a nonlethal alternative to guns. Amnesty International said in a November report that more than 70 people since 2001 have died in the United States and Canada after being hit with such an electrical weapon. In response, Ontario chief coroner James Cairns said this week at a hearing in Toronto that he has studied the data and concluded that no deaths can be attributed to the weapons.

The controversy continues to escalate as more of the guns are bought legally by people outside law enforcement. Taser started selling the X26C weapon to consumers in September. The $999 weapon is legal to carry, but Massachusetts, Rhode Island and some other states have placed restrictions. Rival Stinger, meanwhile, has said consumer sales, if they occur, will be governed by existing gun regulations.

Ideally, a video record will give all parties, including courtrooms, greater evidence of what really occurs in stun gun shooting incidents. Law enforcement agencies also use car dashboard video cameras to record incidents.

Currently, the guns spray confetti with the serial number of the weapon written on the confetti bits so that the gun can later be identified.

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