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The makers of Taser stun guns have begun an aggressive campaign to recruit civilian buyers for devices now used in the U.S. primarily by about 8,500 law enforcement agencies.

Taser International is focusing on sales to ordinary citizens despite the high-profile deaths of police suspects after being repeatedly shocked by the weapon. The push comes after an onslaught of negative publicity, including at least 37 lawsuits and an Amnesty International report of more than 100 Taser-related deaths in the U.S. and Canada since June 2001.

In Illinois, a new law took effect Jan. 1 requiring stun gun and Taser owners to have a state firearm owners identification card and wait 24 hours before purchasing the weapon. The state’s governor likened Tasers and other stun guns to deadly assault weapons.

“The amount of voltage they exert alone can be lethal,” Governor Rod Blagojevich said. “By treating these weapons just as seriously as we treat firearms, we can make our streets and neighborhoods safer.”

It seems to me that Taser is more interested in profits than public safety. Numerous groups including Amnesty International and The Souther Christian Leadership Conference have demanded an investigation into the safety of these weapons. In spite of the public outcry, Taser just wants to make money.

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