What Do Taser Guns Shoot?
- A taser device sends an electrical current toward a suspect or other target to immobilize him. "Taser" stands for Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle.
- Using compressed nitrogen, tasers discharge two small electrical probes toward a target up to 30 or 35 feet away. The probes travel up to 160 feet per second, keeping contact with the taser through an insulated wire, transmitting a signal from the target to the gun. When the charge is sent to the target, the probes cause loss in neuromuscular control. This essentially causes the person to be temporarily unable to move.
- The taser was introduced in 1967, under classification of NASA, by scientist Jack Cover, who invented the gun. The first tasers fired probes to targets up to 15 feet away.
- According to a 2009 report by The Frederick News Post in Maryland, more than 13,400 law enforcement agencies were using tasers. Tasers were being used in 44 countries, though some jurisdictions had banned their use. A United Nations committee stated in 2007 that tasers can be a form of torture, CBS News reported.
- The taser is under growing scrutiny because of questions surrounding its safety. According to Amnesty International, more than 400 people have died in the United States since 2001 from tasers. These reported deaths have led to increasing calls for further testing on the device, given its widespread use by law enforcement in the United States.