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Why Taser is a Crap Investment

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May 04, 2010 – Comments (18)

I generally try to focus on foreign stocks on this blog, but I realize I haven't posted my Taser rant here. Given the news today that security tased a Phillies fan as he ran on the field last night, now seems like a good time to do so.

First, let's get this out of the way: I don't the Phillies and their fans are obnoxious. That said, someone running on the field does not deserve to be tased -- and security is playing a very dangerous game by doing so.

The investment thesis behind Taser, as I understand it, is that the company can give police and security personnel a more effective weapon that is also less lethal than guns to those on which it is used. It is, therefore, a potentially disruptive innovation. But here's the thing: Tasers are not replacements for guns. Rather, they replace non-lethal weapons such as billy clubs and mace. Most police departments have clear guidelines that state that if an officer is in a lethal situation, he/she is entitled to use lethal force. This is why people get shot when officers suspect them of having guns. An office would never use a Taser in this type of situation.

In other words, the question is not are Tasers safer than guns, the question is are Tasers safer than mace and other non-lethal means of force? And they are not. There have been many documented cases of deaths being caused by Taser, particularly if the person being tasered is already suffering from certain conditions and/or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Officers using Tasers also seem to treat them as non-lethal weapons, tasing people multiple times. This may be a contributing factor to the deaths the weapon causes.

Now, a Taser may be more effective than these other non-lethal tools, but if the police are in a non-lethal situation, I submit that they should be putting safety above convenience. All told, Amnesty International reports 351 Taser associated deaths since 2001 versus 61 pepper spray associated deaths since 1990. The Taser appears to be a potentially quite lethal non-lethal weapon, which should mean it will be ever more unlikely to displace the other non-lethal tools on a police officer's tool belt -- since it will never replace the gun. This is why the company is ultimately a crap investment.

Consider what the Philly DA said in a public statement calling the Taser a good tool:

They didn't use deadly force, he didn't pull out his weapon and shoot him and he used the Tasers.

But the Taser has shown a real propensity to be deadly. Imagine that 17-year-old Phillies fan was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and went running on the field and the Taser stopped his heart. That would be a disaster and further evidence of a horrible use of a stupid technology. After all, the kid is just running on the field creating a nuisance. Security should take the extra 10 minutes to control the situation in a responsible matter.

18 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On May 04, 2010 at 11:55 AM, Superdrol (97.18) wrote:

Actually tasers are pretty awesome.  Just not so awesome if you are on the recieving end, but shooting someone is a high that cannot be replicated.

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#2) On May 04, 2010 at 12:01 PM, 100ozRound (29.70) wrote:

I used to work at a professional football stadium.  One time a crazy football fan ran on to the field and a linebacker tackled him.  The whole crown went nuts and was cheering like crazy!  That's the way things like this should be handled; plus we all get a little extra entertainment.

Don't tase me bro!

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#3) On May 04, 2010 at 12:14 PM, TMFJoeInvestor (94.25) wrote:

Tim,

You overlooked a critical part of the Taser thesis: That they're so much cooler than mace and pepper spray. I'm disappointed with your half-hearted research, as evidenced by this oversight.

Joseph E. Magyer 

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#4) On May 04, 2010 at 12:48 PM, brickcityman (< 20) wrote:

I'm going to have to try to disagree...

 

I have no real dog in this fight, but don't confuse safety with efficacy... you're confusing two things that should not be mixed.

 

I don't argue with your thesis that tasers are more disruptive to billy clubs and mace.  And also more dangerous.  But you're looking at it from the wrong perspective.

 

The goal is to incapacitate, but not kill, someone.  A billy club is only as good as the officer using it, and in a case where the officer is outmatched physically it is useless.  Mace is only moderately effective and can backfire.  A taser is an imperfect improvement on both.  

 

This is not a comment on the company or the way in which they have been used by various law enforcement agencies, just the product in the abstract.

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#5) On May 04, 2010 at 12:55 PM, TMFMmbop (60.58) wrote:

That's the point. If you're in a situation that calls for non-lethal force, then it seems to me like potential death is an unacceptable side effect in the name of efficacy. As lawsuits mount, cash strapped municipalities are likely to come to a similar conclusion.

Tim

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#6) On May 04, 2010 at 1:05 PM, TMFRhino (97.59) wrote:

I think a far more effective solution to Philly's sporting problems would be lacing the beer supply with some valium. There's your hot investing tip for the day, buy whoever makes valium.

Conwallis B. Huxtable

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#7) On May 04, 2010 at 1:16 PM, FleaBagger (29.37) wrote:

Tim, the underlying flaw in yuor analysis is the unwritten assumption that police are, and always will be, more interested in our safety than in their own convenience. However, I think we've seen a disturbing trend toward more cases of police brutality, and an increased tolerance by some of police brutality directed at those they don't know, as evidenced by the above comments:

Actually tasers are pretty awesome.  Just not so awesome if you are on the recieving end, but shooting someone is a high that cannot be replicated.

And

You overlooked a critical part of the Taser thesis: That they're so much cooler than mace and pepper spray. I'm disappointed with your half-hearted research, as evidenced by this oversight.

Further evidence is the use of tasers as comedy in The Hangover. You base your predictions for the future taser market not on actual trends, but on what you (rightly) think it should be. 

I do not know much about Taser, but I think the particular reason you have described for remaining uninvested is not valid.

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#8) On May 04, 2010 at 1:19 PM, ocsurf (< 20) wrote:

Basically what you're saying is that we should all blame Taser for for these people's actions?

Let's not put the blame the person using the Taser but lets blame the company for making them. That makes no sense to me.

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#9) On May 04, 2010 at 1:25 PM, RagnarRedbeard (< 20) wrote:

Did I miss the part where TMFM explained why Taser is a crap *investment*?

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#10) On May 04, 2010 at 1:29 PM, Schmacko (79.83) wrote:

Billy Clubs are not an effective tool in this type of situation since beating on someone that isn't actually trying to fight you is in general just asking for a brutality lawsuit.  Pepper Spray/Mace is only marginally effective in that a lot of times it doesn't actually put the person on the recieving end down, they just run around half blind or in some cases the person just shrugs it off.

Tasers stop people.  And they do so at a much greater effectiveness level than either of the suggested alternatives.  Tasers also have the advantage of working at a greater range than either billy clubs or pepper spray.  I'm not sure if Tasers are known to be more lethal than stun guns of the non prong shooting variety, but Tasers would still have the range advantage and therefor more likely to keep the officers out of harm's way in more extreme situations.

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#11) On May 04, 2010 at 4:15 PM, TMFRoyal (98.72) wrote:

I like the rhetorical move here of trying to make a more accurate comparable for Taser. The comparable is Taser vs other non-lethal weapons, not Taser vs guns. If you shift the context for this discussion as you suggest, it sheds a lot more light on the problems of Taser the weapon and company. And the company is just one high-profile incident away from a massive shift away from its products.

 

Jim, Esq.

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#12) On May 04, 2010 at 10:32 PM, Option1307 (29.90) wrote:

If you don't want to get tased, don't break the law and commit criminal trespassing, going onto the field was just that. It's really as simple as that Fools.

Was it excessive force, maybe, but I bet that retarded 17 yr. old kid will think twice next time he has another sweet idea like this. Ha! Honestly I have no sympathy for kids like this, when I was his age I never would have done something like this.

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#13) On May 05, 2010 at 12:02 AM, HarryCarysGhost (99.76) wrote:

TASR the next Smith & Wessen pay special attention to Air Force Fool's comment. #4

 

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#14) On May 05, 2010 at 3:08 AM, mentalguard (< 20) wrote:

Dang. Maybe the next idiot will think twice before jumping a fence to run around a baseball field during a baseball game. Think Security and the Police had all night to chase this goof ball? Zap!! Over and done! ro

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#15) On May 05, 2010 at 9:03 AM, USNHR (68.69) wrote:

#7) I do not know much about Taser, but I think the particular reason you have described for remaining uninvested is not valid

__________________________________________

All kinds of people do investing in only socially responsible, or green companies, or other social type of investing. If this is the reason that he wants to stay uninvested, then it is a valid reason. He is making his decision to invest or not invest in the company based on it.

Does that mean it is the reasonig that I or your or someone else would use... not neccessarily, but it does give some insight into why not everyone believes Taser is a good investment, and why ultimately the company could fail.

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#16) On May 05, 2010 at 9:07 AM, TMFMmbop (60.58) wrote:

The point is that Taser's addressable market is much less attractive than many think it is.

Tim 

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#17) On May 05, 2010 at 9:21 AM, catoismymotor (38.90) wrote:

In today's world there is no telling what some idiot is going to do once they run onto the field. They could have a case of giddy drunkenness or a .44 Magnum and a grudge against the third base coach. The kid is lucky to have only been tased and dragged away. A few years ago he would have been pistol whipped and maybe accidentally kicked a half dozen times while resisting arrest.

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#18) On May 05, 2010 at 10:40 AM, ocsurf (< 20) wrote:

"In today's world there is no telling what some idiot is going to do once they run onto the field. They could have a case of giddy drunkenness or a .44 Magnum and a grudge against the third base coach. The kid is lucky to have only been tased and dragged away. A few years ago he would have been pistol whipped and maybe accidentally kicked a half dozen times while resisting arrest."

 

+1

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