Taser International, the nation’s leading seller of stun guns, had been making an “aggressive push to enter markets either regulated or controlled by the federal government, most notably the Department of Homeland Security” when President Bush decided to nominate one of the firm’s directors, Rudolph Giuliani‘s business partner Bernard Kerik, for the position of Homeland Security Secretary. After Kerik was forced to withdraw his nomination, it seemed that Taser would not find a way to worm its interests into the dealings of our federal government.
The Justice Department has granted a taxpayer funded study into the safety of tasers after continued reports that the supposedly non-lethal weapons have actually killed dozens of people. Conveniently, Taser International’s medical director Robert Stratbucker is one of the advisors to the nearly half a million dollar study.
When the application was approved, there was no mention of Stratbucker’s involvement in the company’s efforts to tout its guns as “non-lethal weapons that offer a safe way for police to subdue suspects.” Despite the obvious potential for conflict of interest, the Justice Department continues to defend Stratbucker’s supposedly “small” involvement in the study by claiming “it will ‘not influence the research goals, scientific measurement, data collection or conclusions.”