In response to the recent string of mass shootings in the US, an Arizona-based tech and weapons company proposed a less-lethal option to a very lethal problem. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
The Arizona-based tech and weapons company Axon Enterprise announced plans on Thursday, June 2, to develop a new cutting-edge tool for the prevention of mass shootings: a drone armed with Axon’s signature Taser. That’s right — a flying stun gun.
“Today, the only viable response to a mass shooter is another person with a gun,” Axon CEO and founder Rick Smith said in a press release. “We need new and better solutions. For this reason, we have elected to publicly engage communities and stakeholders, and develop a remotely operated, non-lethal drone system that we believe will be a more effective, immediate, humane, and ethical option to protect innocent people.”
Now, personally, we think that arming Boston Dynamics’ Spot with a broadsword would be way more effective. Drones just aren’t that scary, but look us dead in the eye and tell us you wouldn’t shit your pants if you saw a robot dog chasing you with a broadsword. Exactly.
Smith’s proposal was met with heavy criticism, including from Axon’s own ethics advisory board, as well as from everyone who has ever attempted to pilot a remote controlled drone and ended up bouncing it off of every wall in the house before sending it throttling up to the ceiling fan to be smacked across the room in multiple tiny expensive pieces. In fact, the public outcry over Smith’s Taser drone concept was so vociferous that the company announced a complete halt on the project just days after the initial press release.
And thank God it did! In addition to the challenges of drone piloting, the stun gun is also problematic. Despite being the go-to less-lethal option for police departments nationwide, an investigation published in 2019 by APM Reports found that officers in some big cities rated Tasers as unreliable up to 40% of the time, and furthermore, in 258 cases over a period of three years, a Taser failed to subdue someone who was then shot and killed by police.
If the numbers don’t raise doubt in your mind about the efficacy of stun guns, perhaps this chilling footage will.
The verdict: The good people at Axon have their hearts in the right place, but their heads are up their asses. It’s hard not to feel strongly about mass shootings, especially those involving children, but entrusting the lives and safety of innocent people to something that runs on a battery or can be taken out by a pissed-off bird is insane.
We don’t know what the solution to the mass shooter problem in America is. We hope one will be found soon. But in the meantime, as Smith said, “Today, the only viable response to a mass shooter is another person with a gun.”
Eric Miller is a former Army Combat Medic from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and has worked with homeless populations and veteran services throughout the state. He is an avid outdoorsman and has recently become interested in woodworking.
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