Recently, I have been doing a fair bit of research into personal protection/safety options when guns are not a legal form of self-defense. As I mentioned in my article about pepper spray – nothing is as important as being aware of your environment and avoiding trouble and dangerous situations as much as possible.
However sometimes, even the most prepared and most aware individual can find themselves in a sticky situation and may need a little help to keep them safe. Here is some information about stun guns so you can decide whether these might be a suitable choice for you.
What Is A Stun Gun?
A stun gun is considered a non-lethal weapon. In other words it will incapacitate your attacker on a temporary basis but is not meant to kill them. Stun guns deliver a high voltage and low amperage charge to the unfortunate attacker. This combination results in a charge that has a high level of pressure but a low level of intensity.
The electrical charge delivered through a stun gun confuses the brain’s normal electrical messages that it sends around the body. In simple terms the stun gun makes a lot of “noise” to confuse the messages being sent by the brain. This can cause the attacker to be temporarily paralyzed as messages from their brain to their muscles cannot be delivered effectively.
If your stun gun delivers its shock in pulses – this matches the way the brain sends its own messages – the attacker’s muscles do a high amount of work in a very short space of time. The shock delivered does not “tell” the muscles what movement to do, so the attacker empties out their energy supplies very quickly without having done any significant work (their muscles would be contracting at a high intensity)
The two basic types of stun gun are:
- Standard stun gun – about the size of a flashlight and works using a 9 volt battery. They deliver shocks ranging from 20 000 – 2 million volts. You can get these stun guns disguised as walking sticks, umbrellas, flashlights and a number of other everyday objects so your attacker can be surprised with the shock.
- Tasers – these work the same way as standard stun guns, except the shock is delivered through two electrodes that are fired out of the main unit on conductive wires. This means that you can prevent an attack from a greater distance (15-20 feet). It should be noted that for a Taser to be effective, BOTH of the electrodes must have made contact with the attacker.
How To Use A Stun Gun
It is important to regularly test your weapon to make sure it is still working effectively. To do this:
- Make sure no part of your hand or body is touching the electrodes where the shock will be coming from and switch on the weapon or switch off safety mechanism.
- Holding the stun gun away from you – press the trigger down and your weapon should immediately fire a charge across the two electrodes.
- Release the trigger after a second (any longer than this and it can damage the electrodes and waste battery life) the charge should stop as soon as you release the trigger.
- To discharge the stun gun, remove your finger from the trigger and place the electrodes against something metal – you will see a final spark but the weapon will now be safe to put away. Without discharging after testing you may accidentally shock yourself if you touch the electrodes up to five minutes after testing.
- To practice with a Taser, take a large piece of cardboard and draw a silhouette. Fire the device, aiming at the upper chest region. Note where the probes lodge when shooting at different distances.
- The Taser will fully discharge on its own.
When using your stun gun in a real life situation – it is very similar to the method above.
- Place the electrodes against your attacker’s body – most effective target to aim for is the body core – the upper hip, below the ribcage or upper shoulders (this is where nerve centers are located and the shock will be most effective). Unlike pepper spray (which must hit the face to be effective) the stun gun will work on whatever part of the body it is touching. One thing to remember though, is that if you shock an arm or a leg it will only stun that limb, so your attacker’s torso is your target.
- Hold the stun gun against your attacker and press the trigger until they are no longer a threat – this will depend on the level of voltage being delivered but it usually takes between 1 – 5 seconds. They will pull away from you, so it is important to drive the stun gun forcefully into your attacker.
- With a Taser, once the probes have hit your attacker, you can set down the body of the Taser and the charge will be delivered into the attacker for 30 seconds.
- As soon as your attacker has been incapacitated, release the trigger and run – make sure you call the police and explain what has happened.
An important point to remember is that you cannot receive a charge back from your stun gun. Even if your attacker is touching you when you deliver a shock – you will not be affected so do not hesitate if you feel you are in danger.
Advantages Of A Stun Gun
- Very simple to use
- Easy to carry as they are small and lightweight
- Reasonably inexpensive to buy
- Legal to carry in some places where guns are not legal
- Can be disguised as everyday objects like walking sticks, etc.
- Unlikely to cause permanent damage to anyone
Disadvantages Of A Stun Gun
- Most stun guns can only be used when the attacker is very close to you – this is a big issue when thinking about your safety and survival
- Not all stun guns will fully disable an attacker long enough for you to get away
- How effective the weapon is depends on how long you hold it against your attacker – if you are panicking, lose your footing, etc., the shock may not be effective and may simply make the attacker angry
As with any weapon – make sure you practice regularly with it and keep it in good condition and change batteries often.
Stun gun and pepper spray laws vary wildly from state to state, and can even have different restrictions based upon the city in which you reside. Obtain, read and understand the laws regarding stun guns in your area.
And as always, remember: Stun guns are only for self-defense. If used otherwise, YOU become the aggressor.