Taser Parties Proliferate

By Beacon Staff

In a previous job in another part of Montana, a deputy chief shot me in the back with a Taser gun. In response, I murmured a string of insults as my body twitched on the floor. It was a voluntary jolt; as police departments began using the weapons, many asked to shoot reporters to prove that they were safe – though I’m sure there was a tiny amount of pleasure in getting to sting the media. Now, increasingly, the general public is packing the stun guns, and even throwing Taser parties in place of Tupperware. This has some officers worried.

The C2, which resembles a razor more than a gun (and comes in pink), is being marketed as a “woman’s product.” It’s supposed to replace pepper spray as the self-defense weapon of choice packed in purses. To get one, you have to pass a background check and fork over $350.

Independent contractors have begun throwing Taser parties, explaining how they work and taking turns with potential buyers shooting metal targets. Taser International, an Ariz.-based company, has already armed more 10,000 police forces with the weapons. Some in the profession are wary of giving the public weapons that law enforcement officials may spend hours in training to use.

“I’m just going to point out that even within our police department, they are restricted to supervisors and expert personnel,” Paul J. Browne, a spokesman for the New York Police Department, told the New York Times. “It certainly raises questions to have them in the hands of individuals who are not trained.”

One telling difference between an officer’s Taser and those being sold at parties, is their shock value. The police’s version zaps a suspect for 5 seconds, while the consumer version sustains a 30-second jolt so a victim can escape while a predator flops around on the ground.

Five seconds felt like a long time when the hook-like metal probes struck my back and my body began flailing. A 30-second jolt, whether excessive, would cause a grown man to cry – ample protection indeed.