TASER devices and stun guns each have slightly different functions, but the common purpose is to shock the aggressor and allow time to move strategically for improved control over the situation, without using lethal force. A TASER can be shot from a distance, and a stun gun requires direct contact with the attacker.
This stun gun has sharp points which might pierce clothing and will even set off an electric charge if somebody tries to grab it.
Other stun guns resemble cellphones, while another type looks just like a mag light. Neither has great power, so in order to get close enough to use it effectively, an attacker may be able to get the upper hand against an untrained civilian. Some stun guns are in the shape and length of a baton (12-19 inches) allowing the user to be a step or two away, rather than just at arm’s length.
In many states, law enforcement groups have been using stun guns to subdue targets for years. Pepper spray occasionally blows back at the user, so private citizens sometimes opt for using a stun gun as a self-defense tool.
Designed in the 1960s for use in tight spaces (inside airplanes) when firing a gun would be especially dangerous, a Taser is considered a safer (non-lethal) alternative to a handgun if used correctly. Concerned about a rise in gun-related injuries during arrests or captures, some law enforcement jurisdictions around the country have required that Tasers and/or stun guns be added to their officers’ equipment belts, giving the officer a choice in tense or escalating situations.
How does a Taser work? The cartridge contains 15-20 foot wires with probes attached at the end. The wires shoot out when the weapon is used. When the probes reach the target, they deliver a shock as well as pain, but this will only happen if both probes insert into the person’s body. In general, the person loses muscle control when hit with the probes, making an arrest easier or allowing the officer to stop an ongoing attack.
There are a variety of Tasers on the market, some of which guarantee contact even through clothing. Some recent Taser models also include the stun gun feature so that the prongs don’t have to be fired during every use.
One criticism of some Tasers is that they can misfire, causing real problems for the officer during an attack. The LATimes ran an article about the issue, comparing effective use in successive years:
Less critical, but potentially disturbing to a civilian Taser owner, is that storage in the home might become an issue. A curious friend or neighbor happening upon the Taser might fire it ‘just to see what it does.’ If it happens to misfire accidentally, somebody could get hurt. Burn marks on floors and ceilings from mis-firing have been reported by Kerrian followers, even when the Tasers have been handled properly. (True story)
Expense is a factor. Stun guns usually cost between $10 and $30. TASER devices have a lot more power and are a lot pricier because of that – running anywhere between $450 to $1,100. If the department in a town of 100,00 people has 180 officers working in the field and the units cost a minimum of $450 each – do the math. That’s an initial hit to the city budget of $81,000 and that’s before the replacement cartridges, etc. Each time the Taser is fired, it needs to be recharged and in some cases, a new cartridge must be inserted – at a cost of between $25 to $35 each.
Need to replace the Kevlar vests this year (a necessity every five years) or get that new million dollar fire truck the city needs so badly? Even if the Taser (or stun gun) is a great idea, the budget may not be able to handle it. So, if your town’s officers would like to have that option available to them, grants and donations from local law enforcement supporters may need to be sought out.
As of 2018, four states required background checks for Taser ownership.
Two (2) states where Tasers and stun guns are completely banned for use for anyone other than law enforcement:
But, most states do not regulate the purchase of Tasers or stun guns. That means no training requirements, background checks, or paperwork. Anyone in those states can buy and use them for self-defense. In many states, it is illegal to carry a concealed stun gun outside of your own home, and specifically illegal to carry it on school property. In some jurisdictions, stun guns are considered dangerous or deadly weapons, and as such, fall under those laws. Deadly weapons are generally banned from:
It’s important to note about ownership of either a stun gun or a Taser or a combo of the two:
If someone falls and suffers a heart attack or other injury during the commission of a crime after being shocked with a stun gun or Taser, there are serious consequences. Instead of seeing its non-lethal purpose, the court may conclude that the tragic result came from the use, not the intent. i.e. the person might not have had the heart attack if not for being Tasered. If that happens, we now have a deadly weapon, and the legal concerns change under the law.
What are your thoughts about the use of Tasers and/or stun guns? Let us know in the comments below.
*Photos from Amazon
More than ever, it seems as if readers and professional writers that follow the Notebook most enjoy learning about the nuts and bolts of crime as well as the crime fighters that take care of the bad guys. It was fun to see that two of our (always taste-tested) recipes made the list this year as well.
Here are the Top Ten Fan Favorites for 2017, listed in reverse order. Click on the links to re-read the articles (or enjoy them for the first time) and let us know in the comments whether your faves made the list. Happy sleuthing, one and all. 🙂
And the most read new post of 2017?
1. “200 ways to die an unnatural death.” https://bit.ly/2jmDIeE
Take a look at “Kerrian’s Notebook, Volume 2: Fun, facts, and a few dead bodies,” just released. Download to your e-reader and enjoy! 🙂
Happy New Year, everyone!
I feel lousy. If I didn’t have to get out of bed to eat, I wouldn’t move. The body aches remind me of what it felt like to be back doing the physical part of basic training at the Police Academy. Everything hurts. Everywhere. Between the coughing, the sneezing, and the sweating, my days are filled with junk. And not the good kind.
I am buried under a pile of tissues.
Sheila has disappeared again. She brings me chicken soup, drops off a new box of tissues and leaves. She’s sleeping in the guest room and has Hammett with her, so it’s pretty quiet in here. I miss them both. Yeah, I know they’re just in the next room, but it’s not the same.
Hammett growled when he heard me honking the first day, so I’m pretty sure he’s away for the duration. I don’t want Sheila to catch this, so she should stay away. Still. A hug and a woof would be good. I admit it. I’m a wimp.
At least I’m well enough to read a little and work on the Notebook. Seriously, it’s been four days since I got dizzy and almost fell off a ladder outside. Who knew that 102 fever would knock out a big guy like me? If I was on active duty, I wouldn’t have the strength to hold a gun steady, and it wouldn’t be safe to put me out on the streets. Can you imagine sneezing in the middle of taking a shot? EVERYONE would run for cover. I might shoot myself in the foot if I ever actually had the strength to pull the trigger. I definitely wouldn’t be fit for roll call until the coughing and sneezing stopped.
It got me to thinking about the Blue Flu – the pretend flu we hear about every once in a while. The kind of flu that gets rumored about when a contract negotiation hits a snag over in NYC or in one of the other larger communities in the country.
Here’s a little history.
It all started in Boston, back in 1919. A full 80 percent of Boston police went off the job, leaving the city unprotected for several days. Unions were on the rise and the cops decided that there was no other way to get the boss’ attention. They wanted better working conditions and more pay. But, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge disagreed with the concept of unions in general and the right in particular of police officers to strike. He called out the militia, and famously declared, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime.” Coolidge used this get-tough policy to leverage a spot as Vice-President on the ticket to the White House in the following election.
Instead of viewing the police as helpers of the community, for a while at least, Boston cops and unions in general were in disfavor. It became illegal for law enforcement officers anywhere to strike.
It wasn’t until fifty years later that big city police officers were back in the news for a job action. In the early 1970s, the NYC Police Department was under scrutiny for corruption, and at first, the 19th precinct was targeted more than the others by the Knapp Commission. The Police Commissioner at the time, Patrick Murphy, sought to clean house before the investigations went any further and started transferring officers as well as demoting some. But the PBA (the Police Benevolent Association) was upset at the way they thought Knapp was attacking the entire force with what the PBA called “unfounded accusations.” More than 60 of the 90 day-shift officers in that precinct sat down on the job for four hours and would not go out on patrol. First strike ever in the history of the NYC police department. My boss told me that both good and bad fallout rippled across the country.
Then, just a few months later, while parts of the NYC Police Department were still under investigation, salaries were up for review. Officers faced a tough reception on the streets and any shift could be deadly. While never an easy job, the level of violence toward cops had gone up a notch and cops wanted to be compensated for that danger. 20,000 officers of the NYC police department called in sick for six days in a row. The mayor at the time, John Lindsay, threatened to fire the entire police force if they didn’t get back to work. Public outcry was fierce, with many in support of the theory of pay raises, but taxes were already high and new money would burst the budget. The union leadership got the patrolmen back on the job, but it took years for goodwill between the public and cops and the mayor to be restored.
Cops, firefighters, and hospital workers are sometimes faced with horrendous working conditions in metropolitan settings and while they know what they signed up for, buying the groceries and paying the rent gets in the way of that warm and fuzzy feeling towards management. Full-on Blue Flu sickouts are discouraged when tensions run high, so some unions prefer the work slowdown method. The idea behind it is that the resulting traffic stops and mountains of paperwork will convince the other side to come up with solutions to the issues at hand. It isn’t always about the $$$.
Blue Flu has been a last resort job action. Many would say that it should never be used at all.
If you’d like to read more about the history behind the “Blue Flu,” click on the links below. 🙂
Check out a more recent use of Blue Flu as a job action, in September, 2016: http://www.fox10tv.com/story/33261705/blue-flu-hits-prichard-police-department