Many of you are familiar with the term “Taser” from the news. I’d like to clarify what a Taser is, because many people still confuse Tasers with stun guns.
Taser CEW’s (Conducted Electrical Weapons) fire two small probes that are connected to the weapon by conductive wire. The two probes are propelled through the air by compressed nitrogen charges. When the probes contact any part of the subject’s body or clothing, they transmit an electrical signal that results in an instant loss of the attacker’s neuromuscular control and motor skills.
While the attacker is incapacitated, the target can escape the area. It is a less-lethal personal defense option that does not depend upon impacting or penetrating the attacker like a firearm or knife to achieve the desired effect.
Taser’s are not point-of-contact weapons and can shoot the metal probe darts a distance of up to 15 feet penetrating up to 2” of clothing, giving you the advantage of distance if you recognize the threat in time.
Additionally, as a use-of-force option, it is relatively easy to use because of the device itself and the fact that you do not have to hit any specific target area on the body for it to be effective. That is a critical factor, especially when you are under huge stress.
To ensure maximum effectiveness of what is known as the “T-Wave” flow to the attacker, the probes must be at least 6” apart when they contact the target. This means that when you fire the Taser, your optimum shots for maximum effectiveness will be at about 7-10 feet from the attacker.
Does this mean you cannot fire the device if you are closer to the target than 7 feet? No, but realistically you need to be at least 3-4 feet away from the attacker to be effective. Anything less will not allow a large enough spread of the probes, thus rendering the shot unsuccessful.
How can the Taser be so effective for personal protection, yet not lethal?
The main premise behind the Taser is that the pulsating electrical output interferes with the communication between the brain and muscles, which results in disabling the subject rapidly. At the same time, the Taser is non-destructive to muscles, nerves and organs.
The question that many people ask is, “Is the electrical charge transferable to another person if they are in contact with the person who is targeted?” And the answer is “No.” The electrical output of a Taser is non-transferable regardless of contact.
You will also likely want to know if there are any aftereffects to being “tased.” Because of the involuntary muscle contractions caused by the electrical output, the targeted individual may feel confused and out of it for several minutes. They also may experience dizziness, and it is very possible the initial probe contact will render an attacker unconscious.
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of this less-lethal-force personal-defense option to give you a good basis to decide if this is something you would like to add to or make your everyday carry.
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or dad, a salesperson, teacher, real estate agent, plumber or executive, the Taser can fit your lifestyle. Nowadays, these defense tools come in all sizes and models, which allow for easier carry options as well as a defense tool that has the ability to incapacitate an attacker without killing them.
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In fact, most law enforcement officers have been carrying them with confidence on their duty belts for many years.
The word Taser is actually an acronym that stands for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle. The weapon was named after the character ‘Tom Swift’ from the novels by one of its inventors.
On the Pro Side:
- The Taser offers the ability of range and thus some level of safety as it can reach up to 15 feet.
The Taser can incapacitate the attacker for 30 seconds, giving you time to escape to safety. And in case you are wondering how you do that when the probes you just fired are embedded in the attacker and attached to your Taser? You simply drop the weapon and run! Yes, you heard me correctly; that $400 defense tool gets thrown away. But don’t despair just yet!
If you are using a Taser CEW in a personal defense situation and if you had to leave it at the scene to escape the area, Taser International will replace it at no cost to you other than shipping. You are probably thinking at this point: Is there some type of catch? The only thing they require from you is a copy of the police report and your contact information.
- Some models have laser sighting to make aiming and hitting the attacker easier thus requiring less training.
- Taser’s have a built-in fail-safe. They have the ability to act as a stun gun in the event that you miss the target, that the attacker is too close for the probes to be effective or for whatever reason the device fails.
Although Taser CEW’s are completely legal in most states, there are still several places where they are currently banned and that includes: New York, Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Washington D.C.
There are also some states that require background checks to legally obtain and own one, and they are: Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and Connecticut. Note that CT only allows CEW’s for home defense.
To that end, three states require concealed carry permits and they are: Delaware, West Virginia and New Mexico. And finally, four states require permits for ownership of Tasers: Mississippi, Michigan, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
Another con is that both electrode probes must hit the target for the device to be effective.
Batteries must be checked often and I would suggest moving toward rechargeable-type units, which are much easier to maintain. Imagine if you will a situation in which the manufacturer states the batteries will last six months in a unit and you are three months in when suddenly you have a serious situation calling for deployment. You press the trigger and nothing happens! It does not fire the probes because the batteries are dead! Bottom line: Do not rely on manufacturers’ specs to tell you battery life.
- The cost of these devices rivals many handguns. Typically, they start at $399 and up. Some will require a holster, and all need lifetime maintenance such as replacement firing cartridges and batteries.
So, what is a stun gun, then?
A stun gun is a hand-held device employed in a self-defense situation to cause pain through the use of high-voltage electricity. It is a point-of-contact weapon and thus the user must actually make physical contact with the attacker in extremely close range.
The normal stun gun has two metal prongs at the end of the unit and when you depress the trigger or button, it causes the electricity to pulse between the prongs. You must then make contact with those prongs on the target.
These devices rely more on pain compliance to incapacitate or sway commitment, and for this reason are much less reliable in a self-defense type situation. There are stun batons, which offer a bit more range than a traditional stun gun, but that still places you in very close proximity to a potentially dangerous threat.
To add to this is the fact that because the device is limited to any one individual’s pain tolerance, if your attacker has a high tolerance, it may be nothing more to them than an annoyance. I can tell you from the training-, experimenting- and experience-side that these defense tools are far from foolproof.
There was many a time in which we would test the devices on ourselves, sometimes even hitting very sensitive areas such as the tongue and genitals to test both its effectiveness and our ability to resist. On limbs and body targets, it rarely produced anything other than pain and burn marks as we held out and continued to attack the presenter while being stunned.
In the end, our research back then concluded that because the stun gun is a point-of-contact, close-proximity defense tool and because its functional effectiveness is only as good as the subject’s compliance, the use of this device as a defense tool was limited and required the user to have a great deal more self-defense training to counter any potential resistance.
That said, the advances in technology have made modern-day stun gun’s a bit more effective than all those decades ago when we were playing with them. However, that resistance component of the defense equation would be absent when employing a Taser CEW defense tool.
Nowadays, insofar as effectiveness for close-range, stun guns are a bit more efficient as a self-defense tool. So don’t rule them out as an everyday carry option. Just realize that weapon retention and training go along with the responsibility of carrying any self-defense weapon.
There is no surefire method when it comes to self-defense. Yes, carrying a firearm gives you the potential to counter a lethal force threat, but consider that many of the threats you may encounter will come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
These range from the guy on the street giving you the evil eye stare then purposely bumping you as he walks by, to the intoxicated guy or girl’s escalating poor language and belligerence. Do those types of threats warrant presenting your firearm and shooting them for their lapse in judgment?
It is for times such as these, where a lethal-force option is not called for, that you require less-lethal personal-defense tools in the event you are forced to engage and physically counter.
As a matter of fact, the majority of threats that you may encounter will be those where less-lethal-force options are called for. For this reason, a personal protection tool such as a Taser makes perfect sense.
In addition, as I have said in the past, not everyone wants to own and carry a firearm. The Taser then offers a decisive self-defense tool for those who want to carry an effective defense weapon every day as a less-lethal option for de-escalating potentially dangerous situations, but do not want the responsibility of owning a firearm.
Until next time, stay alert, check your six, put your back against the wall and stay safe!
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