By SAM INGLOT
Capital News Service
LANSING— Michigan residents with concealed pistol licenses may soon be able to wield Tasers.
But some critics worry that the training requirements in proposed legislation are too vague. The devices send an electrical shock to the target, causing involuntary muscle contractions and rendering a potential assailant incapacitated.
The goal of the legislation is to give people another personal defense option, said Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, who sponsored the bill.
“They’re a less than lethal option,” he said. “But people need to make their own decision on what they’re comfortable with for protection.”
Hansen said Michigan would be the first state to require a concealed pistol license for carrying a Taser.
“We’ll have the highest standards for anybody to have a Taser in the United States because we’re making sure they have a concealed pistol license,” he said.
Only police officers and certain security and criminal justice workers are now permitted to carry Tasers and only after an “intensive training session,” said Mason County Sheriff Jeff Fiers.
Fiers said the training process requires officers to experience the shock a Taser can deliver and also learn the mechanics and effects of the device. He said they are trained where to aim and practice firing the device numerous times before becoming certified.
Fiers said the bill’s civilian training section is “very weak.” It should be similar to the kind police officers are required to undergo, he said.
The bill requires Taser distributers to train people when they buy the devices
The bill’s lack of specific training requirements is a “definite concern,” Fiers said.
Taser distributers are not certain as to the kind of civilian training they would be required to provide.
A concealed pistol license is the only requirement that Marlene Brennan, a certified instructor with Michigan Taser Distributing, knew about.
She said the training might be similar to that which is required to get a concealed pistol license.
That would require dealers to explain that carrying a Taser carries the same restrictions as a gun as to where you are allowed to take it.
The bill is a good idea if the training requirements are improved, Fiers said.
“I see a benefit to it because people would hopefully carry a Taser over a firearm,” he said. “When firearms miss their target they have the potential to harm other people.”
Terrence L. Jungel, executive director with the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, said the legislation was a logical conclusion that if a person is responsible enough to carry a lethal weapon then they should be able to carry a less than lethal option. He also agreed with Fiers that there should be strict requirements for the training.
Hansen said he wasn’t clear on what the training would look like but said the training will be required and worth taking note of because misusing a Taser would carry the same penalties as misusing a firearm.
The legislation has passed the Senate and needs to pass through the House before it can be sent to Gov. Snyder’s desk for approval.
There are 286,639 people in Michigan with a concealed pistol license as of Oct. 4, according to the Michigan State Police. A breakdown by county:
In Mason County there are 793,
Ingham County 5,736
Macomb County 26,750
Kent County 8,085
Allegan County 1,067
Alpena County 488
Charlevoix County 801
Cheboygan County 928
Clare County 1,055
Clinton County 2,555
Eaton County 3,672
Gladwin County 1,071
Grand Traverse County 2,033
Lapeer County 3,554
Leelanau County 551
Mackinac County 489
Missaukee County 468
Oakland County 39, 652
Oceana County 717
Ottawa County 4,621
St. Joseph County 1,788
Wayne County 55,593
© 2011, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Nonmembers cannot reproduce CNS articles without written permission.
By SAM INGLOT