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Frequently asked questions (FAQ's) for Stun Guns

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Stun Gun FAQ (frequently asked questions):

  1. What is a stun gun?
  2. How is a stun baton different from a stun gun?
  3. Are stun guns legal where I live?
  4. How does a stun gun work?
  5. Will a stun gun work on those under the influence?
  6. If the aggressor is touching me, will I be stunned?
  7. What does the number of volts mean to me?
  8. Will a stun gun work through clothing?
  9. Can a stun gun be fired multiple times?
  10. Are stun guns safe?
  11. Do stun guns have safety switches to prevent accidental activation?
  12. What is the power source for stun guns?
  13. How do I carry a stun gun?
  14. How do I use a stun gun?
  15. Can I travel with a stun gun?
  16. Should I choose a stun gun or pepper spray?
  17. What if a child gets their hands on it?
  18. Why use a stun gun?
  19. How long will it take for an assailant to recover?
  20. How long do I need to make contact to the assailant with my stun gun?
  21. Will a stun gun kill someone?
  22. Can a stun gun be used on a dog or other animal?
  23. What is a Taser?
  24. Which is better, a stun gun or a Taser?

What is a stun gun?

A stun gun is a hand held, electrical self defense device that uses high voltage to stop an attacker. A stun gun has two prongs at the end of the device. Touching a person with the prongs and pulling the trigger will cause an electrical current to go from the prongs through the attacker's clothes into his body. This quickly immobilizes the attacker by causing intense pain and loss of muscle control. The pulsed current causes muscles to work super fast, depleting them of needed blood sugars. It also interrupts the tiny neurological impulses that control muscle movement. The results are disorientation and loss of balance. The entire process takes only a few seconds and is very painful. It can disable a person for up to 30 minutes. However, because the amperage is very low, no serious or permanent injury is inflicted. A stun gun is a great protection device. Stun guns are used by police departments, security agencies, and individuals desiring protection against attack. They have been proven to be excellent defensive devices, as they have incredible stopping power and yet remain non-lethal. Typically they operate on one or two 9-volt batteries and range from 85,000 volts to 950,000 volts.

Stun guns come in different sizes and shapes. They are designed to be held in an average size hand. Some stun guns are intended for those with smaller hands. In most cases, the more volts a stun gun is capable of producing, the longer and heavier it will be. The "mini" stun gun is usually about four inches long and has a voltage range between 50,000 and 100,000 volts. The stopping power of these compact units is surprisingly good. Most stun guns are about six inches long, with voltages ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 volts. They are definitely more effective than the smaller units, but somewhat harder to carry. Stun guns are available in straight and curved models. While the straight model is the most common, some people prefer the curved model, feeling that the curved design makes it easier to make contact with the attacker. Stun batons are about 16 to 20 inches long. They allow you to maintain more distance from an attacker, and they also deliver a shock when touched six inches from the tip. This prevents an attacker from grabbing it and taking it away. They are a favorite among security guards. The element of surprise usually makes stun guns more effective. Some stun guns are disguised as cell phones, flashlights or other ordinary objects that enable one to catch an attacker off guard.

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How is a stun baton different from a stun gun?

Stun Batons use the same technology as stun guns to immobilize an aggressor. The electrical discharge that they deliver is non-lethal, however if you strike the attacker with the stun baton it may cause serious injury or death in the same manner that a blow with a standard baton might. Stun batons have strips that line the extended end of the shaft that are charged to prevent the attacker from grabbing and forcefully removing the stun baton from a person's hands. The extended reach of stun batons make them ideal for police officers and security personnel. However, due to their size they may be undesirable for some individuals as they do not fit in a pocket or purse.

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Are stun guns legal where I live?

Stun guns are restricted in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. They are also restricted in Annapolis, MD, Baltimore, MD, Baltimore County, MD, Chicago, IL, Denison, LA / Crawford County, District of Columbia, and Philadelphia, PA

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How does a stun gun work?

A stun gun works on the muscular and neural system. The human nervous system is a kind of electrical system, and the stun gun confuses the body's own electrical signals. A stun gun disrupts the signal from the brain to the muscles, causing the assailant to drop...trying to remember how to move his arms and legs. The stun gun does not rely on pain for results. The stun gun dumps its energy into the muscles at a high pulse frequency that makes the muscles work very rapidly, but not very efficiently. This rapid work cycle depletes blood sugar by converting it into lactic acid, all in just seconds.In short, this renders an attacker unable to produce energy for his muscles, and his body is unable to function properly. At the same time, the tiny neurological impulses that travel throughout the body to direct muscle movement are interrupted. This causes disorientation and loss of balance, leaving the attacker in a passive and confused condition for several minutes. There is no significant effect on the heart and other organs. As a general rule, a one second contact will repel and startle the attacker, giving intense pain and muscle contraction. One to two seconds of contact will cause intense pain, muscle spasms and a dazed mental state, and may drop the attacker to the ground. More than three seconds will cause intense pain, loss of balance, loss of muscle control, mental confusion and disorientation. Generally, any charge over three seconds will cause the aggressor to fall to the ground. The aggressor will be unable to recover for several minutes, and effects may last for up to 30 minutes.

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Will a stun gun work on those under the influence?

Stun guns do indeed work even on those under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. A stun gun causes a great deal of pain, however it is more important to note that it causes the body to have a chemical reaction. The voltage from a stun causes the body to release lactic acid into the muscles. This is similar to what happens when you have a cramp, except that it affects a much larger area of the body, is far more intense and lasts much longer. A person being under the influence is not a factor when a stun gun is properly used.

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If the aggressor is touching me, will I be stunned?

No. Even if the aggressor is physically touching you when you fire the stun gun into them you can not suffer from a charge back. The electrical current is absorbed in the muscles and will not pass through to the user, regardless of the conditions. Even if the assailant is holding you, there is no way the current will pass to you. The output of stun guns and Tasers is carefully metered. Shocks provided by stun guns and Tasers do not pass through water and do not conduct from one person to another. If your attacker is touching you, you will not be shocked.

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What does the number of volts mean to me?

The voltage that a stun gun delivers is not necessarily the most important variable in whether or not a stun gun is effective. Besides voltage, the delivery method and the amperage of the charge are also important. A lower voltage stun gun with a better method of delivery may be more effective than a stun gun with higher voltage. Generally, the higher the voltage, the quicker the full effect of the stun gun will be delivered, thus the more effective the stun gun is. The higher the voltage, the less time you have to contact the assailant to immobilize them. Depending on the length of direct contact, a 100,000 volt stun gun will cause pain, muscle contractions, disorientation and loss of balance. It will work well enough to repel the attacker and escape, which is the goal. A 100,000 volt stun gun may not necessarily take an attacker down and leave him immobilized. The higher powered stun guns (300,000 volts and higher) have more effective take-down power. A 100,000 volt stun gun would require you to touch the assailant for 3-10 seconds to immobilize them. On the other hand, a 800,000 or 900,000 volt stun requires you to touch the person for about 1/2 of a second to 1 second, making it extremely quick acting and effective.

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Will a stun gun work through clothing?

Absolutely. Stun guns are designed to be 100% effective even through typical clothing. Electricity has no problem going through most kinds of clothing, even thick jackets or coats. The exception would be if it is a rubber material such as a rubber rain jacket or something similar.

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Can a stun gun be fired multiple times?

Yes. A stun gun can be used many times to ward off attackers before the battery needs recharging or replacement.

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Are stun guns safe?

Stun guns have been proven safe. They cause no permanent damage to an attacker. There is no evidence that the electrical charge of the stun gun has adverse psychological or neurological effects.  Stun guns have no effect on involuntary muscles such as the heart and lungs.  They will not permanently harm someone with a pace maker. Stun guns will not permanently injure or kill anyone because of the voltage. One amp will kill a person. Most stun guns deliver only 3 milliamps. That is far below the amperage that could do any lasting damage to an individual.  Both medical and scientific communities have determined that stun guns are completely safe because they cause no permanent damage to the attacker.

Electrocution is caused by current, not voltage.  Tasers and stun guns have very high voltage but very low current.  Stun guns work on voltage delivered directly into human muscle tissue.  The voltage temporarily disables nerves and muscles but causes no permanent harm. The voltage scrambles the signal of the brain to muscles. Stun guns and Tasers do not cause electrocution.

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Do stun guns have safety switches to prevent accidental activation?

Most models include a safety switch to prevent accidental activation. The unit cannot produce a shock unless the safety switch is activated AND the On/Off switch is turned ON.

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What is the power source for stun guns?

Most stun guns require 9-volt Energizer alkaline batteries. Lower voltage units require only one, and the higher voltage units will use two or more. Not all brands of 9-volt batteries will work in a stun gun due to the amount of power they require. For this reason, ONLY fully charged Energizer alkaline batteries are recommended.

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How do I carry a stun gun?

Most models are small enough to fit easily inside a pocket or purse, and include a belt clip so the unit can be conveniently worn on the waist. Leather and nylon holsters are also available. A holster will keep a stun gun securely in place, and allow quick access.

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How do I use a stun gun?

Do not discharge the unit into the air for more than one second. Longer durations can damage the units.

To use a stun gun, hold the electrodes firmly against an attacker.  Target an area that is harder and slower to move like the upper shoulder or the upper hip.  The arms or hands are not good attack points because they can be moved away too quickly.  To completely subdue the attacker, the stun gun must be continuously applied for a few seconds.  More time is required if the person is large, or you are using a low voltage model.

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Can I travel with a stun gun?

When traveling, stun guns should be packed in CHECKED luggage only. They are not allowed in terminal areas of any airport, or in any carry-on luggage. Never attempt to enter a courthouse, government building, public meeting, or sporting event area with a stun device. There are no Federal statutes governing stun devices other than air carrier travel, public forums, sporting events, court houses, and other government buildings, which are restricted.

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Should I choose a stun gun or pepper spray?

Stun guns and pepper spray both have advantages and disadvantages.  A stun gun can only be used in close contact with an attacker, while pepper spray can put a safe distance between you and an attacker (5-10 feet depending on the model).  Pepper spray must be sprayed in the eyes or inhaled directly to be effective, while a stun gun works anywhere on the body. The effectiveness of pepper spray may be affected by wind and rain, and stun gun effectiveness depends on how long you keep the gun on the attacker.  It is strongly recommended that you carry both.  Do not rely on just one form of defense. For information about pepper spray, see our Pepper Spray FAQ.

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What if a child gets their hands on it?

A Stun Gun is much safer to have in your home than a gun.  If the device is touched to the body and the button depressed, the muscles go limp in one millisecond (1/1000ths of a second), so that the button is instantly released.  Nevertheless, it is highly recommended that you take all necessary precautions to insure that a stun gun does not get into the hands of a child.  Stun Guns are NOT TOYS, they are highly effective self defense devices that should be taken seriously.

Never leave your stun gun or Taser out where someone might mistake it for anything other than a potentially harmful personal protection device.  If you have children, explain to them what the stun gun is, how it works, and why they should never touch it.

Keep stun guns and Tasers in a safe place out of the reach of children. Never use your stun gun or Taser as a toy.

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Why use a stun gun?

A stun gun gives you a tactical advantage of surprise because an assailant does not expect you to have this type of weapon. In addition, most stun guns are easily concealed and an assailant may not even realize what you have in your hand until the very unlucky assailant is zapped.  Since Stun Guns are a non-lethal form of self-defense, they are a very popular option to using a firearms.

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How long will it take for an assailant to recover?

Full recovery takes about ten to thirty minutes, and there is no permanent damage.

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How long do I need to make contact to the assailant with my stun gun?

Three to five seconds will leave the assailant dazed and temporarily paralyzed.

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Will a stun gun kill someone?

When properly used, a stun gun is a non lethal device that will not cause permanent damage.  When used, a stun gun is not electrocuting a person - the voltage produced is causing a physical reaction and chemical reactions in the body, which includes the rapid dump of lactic acid into the muscles, creating an extreme state of cramping that can last anywhere from 3 minutes to an hour.  There have been reports of stun guns having caused deaths in the past, but this has always been when the stun gun was being used in ways it was not intended for.

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Can a stun gun be used on a dog or other animal?

Yes, a stun gun is very effective on aggressive animals.  We have sold many stun batons for people that are concerned about aggressive dogs, coyotes and other animals.  There are limitations though.  Please do not think that a stun gun will stop a bear.  For dogs and/or coyotes and similar size animals, we recommend no less than 500,000 volts.  Specifically, a baton is recommended, which will provide additional reach, and you will be able to stay further away form the animal's jaws.  Animals have a much higher pain tolerance than humans.  If you do use your stun gun on an animal, be prepared to have to contact the animal more than once or for a longer period of time.  We have found that most people do not need to ever actually touch the animal as triggering the stun gun in the air produces a loud popping noise that seems to disturb the dogs ears.  If you see an aggressive dog approaching we would recommend triggering the stun gun and seeing how the animal reacts.  If it turns away, then that's great.  If not, then be prepared to use your stun gun.

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What is a Taser?

Tasers are manufactured in the United States by Taser International, which was founded in 1983.  A Taser is a non-lethal self-defense weapon that uses compressed nitrogen to shoot two tethered needle-like probes at an assailant in order to deliver an electric shock.  The probes travel at a speed of 135 feet per second (41 meters per second) with a maximum reach of 15 feet (4.5m).  When the probes penetrate the attacker's skin, an electric shock passes between them, disrupting the assailant's nervous system.  This causes the attacker to lose all control and coordination.  The Taser will continue to apply the electrical charge in an auto-timed sequence of an initial charge of several seconds followed by many short bursts.  This prevents the assailant from recovering from the initial shock and removing the probes.  During this event the user can abandon the Taser on the ground and escape.  If you miss the target with your Taser shot, you can still use your Taser as a stun gun.

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Which is better, a stun gun or a Taser?

Both are excellent self defense devices.  However we believe a Taser is more suited for home defense and a stun gun is better for everyday walking around defense. Tasers shoot two darts at a range of about 15 feet.  However, the large size of the Taser is not practical for carrying around on a regular basis.  Also, most street attacks happen at close range, which does not allow time to react with the Taser, whereas the stun gun is a contact device that is small and compact, and can easily be carried at all times.  Since most attacks do happen at close range, it is much more likely that you would be able to contact the person and drop them with a stun gun than it would be for you to pull out a Taser, take aim and fire and hope you hit the target.  Keep in mind you will have fear and adrenaline working against you.  For the home, you might typically have a short period of time available to get your Taser and prepare to use it.  The best case scenario would be to own a Taser for the home and a stun gun for your everyday self defense needs.

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Revised: April 03, 2008 .