Electroshock gun

From Academic Kids

An electroshock gun or stun gun, is a weapon used for subduing a person by administering an electric shock. It is described as non-lethal (officially "less-lethal", meaning it is not intended to kill, and usually does not kill, but does on rare occasions). It is a weapon used by police officers, army personnel, and by individuals. They are not meant to do any permanent damage to a person, only to stun them temporarily. It sends an electric current through a person at level less than fatal but enough to incapacitate them.


Commercially-available Types

Missing image
Electric shock baton

Electric shock prods

This type is similar in basic design to a cattle prod. It has two metal electrodes about an inch apart at an end of a shaft which contains the batteries and mechanism. At the other end of the shaft is a handle and a switch. Both electrodes must touch the subject. In some types the sides of the baton can be electrified to stop the subject from grasping the baton above the electrodes. They are often carried in a sheath slung on a belt. Some such devices are available disguised as other objects (such as an umbrella).


The name comes from "Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle". It was designed in 1969 (some sources say 1974) by Arizona inventor Jack Cover. Most modern Tasers fire small spear-shaped electrodes with attached wires that lead back to the device, propelled by a small gas charge as in some air rifles. The range is about 6 metres (20 feet). On firing they shoot out and imbed in the skin and then deliver a jolt of electricity, but they cannot penetrate much thickness of clothes. Some police forces use them.

Stun belts

This is a belt which carries a battery and control pack. It is fastened around the subject's waist and contains features to stop the subject from unfastening it or cutting it off. A remote control signal is sent to tell the battery pack to give the subject an electric shock. The United States uses these devices to control prisoners. One type is the REACT belt. Some stun belts can restrain the subject's hands as well as use a strap going under the subject's crotch to stop him from rotating the belt around his waist trying to deactivate it. Stun belts are not generally available to the public.

Prototype designs

Due to increased interest in developing less-lethal weapons, mainly from the US military, a number of new types of stun gun are being researched. They are designed to provide a "ranged" non-lethal weapon.

Sticky Shocker

This is a projectile which is being designed to be fired from a rubber bullet gun and to stick to its target while it administers an electric shock. It contains a battery and electrodes and functions like an electric shock prod. "Sticky Shocker" is a tradename. For more information see here (http://www.jaycor.com/web-content/eme_ltl_sticky.html).

Missing image
Image of a Taser

Weapons that administer electric shock through a stream of liquid

Prototype stun guns exist which replace the solid wire with a stream of conductive liquid (essentially salty water) which offers the range of a taser (or better) and the possibility of multiple shots, though the water tank makes it much more bulky. See Electrified water cannon.

Weapons that administer electric shock through a laser beam

Some people are experimenting with devices that use an ultraviolet laser to ionize the air between the user and recipient, thus making it conduct electricity. Such devices are currently much too large for a hand-carried weapon.

One such organisation is found here [1] (http://www.hsvt.org/). The range of the ionisation is claimed as 200 meters or 656 feet.

Principles of operation

Stun guns work by applying a high-voltage, but low-current, electrical charge. Since the nervous system in our bodies works by sending electrical charges of its own through neural pathways, the electric current provided by a stun gun "confuses" the nervous system. This can cause the recipient of a charge from a stun gun (the "recipient"), as well as feeling great pain, to feel paralyzed for a brief instant, because his or her brain is now receiving mixed signals from the nervous system. Or, the electric current can cause many random muscles to trigger, causing a spasm or convulsion in many areas of the body. The high voltage is needed to get the charge into the subject's body, and the current is kept low (3 milliamps, depending on the model) so that the subject will not be injured severely. Some guns use a lower fluctuating voltage, designed to mimic the body's muscle-triggering impulses, immobilizing the recipient with less current. This has been labelled a "tetanizing weapon".

A 0.06 amp current is generally enough to kill a person, so the devices are low current, but they use a very high voltage so the electricity can overcome resistance from skin and flow through the subject.

The internal circuits of most stun-guns are fairly simple, either based on an oscillator, resonant circuit and step-up transformer or diode-capacitor voltage multipliers to achieve the continuous, direct or alternating high-voltage discharge and are usually powered by one or more 9 V battery. The output voltages without external "load" (which would be the target's body) can range from 50 kV up to 900 kV, with the most common being in the 200–300 kV range. The output current upon contact with the target will depend on various factors such as target's resistance, skin type, moisture, bodily salinity, clothing, the stun-gun's internal circuitry and battery conditions.

According to the makers of stun guns, a shock of 1/4 second duration will cause intense pain and muscle contractions startling most people greatly. One to two seconds will often cause the subject to become dazed and drop to the ground, and over three seconds will usually completely disorient and drop an attacker for at least several minutes and possibly for up to fifteen minutes.

However, some law-enforcement operators, martial artists, specially trained and/or conditioned people largely doubt these numbers as well as the usefulness of stun guns as attacking or even defensive weapons (see section at the end of the page for more info).

While generally non-lethal, the charge of stun-guns can kill in some circumstances, especially by disruption of the heart muscle's rhythm. Also, some localized nerve damage is possible and a small electrical burn where the electrodes touch the skin. Spear electrodes leave small wounds where they penetrate. If improperly used, for example if an electrode touches a person's eye, more serious damage can occur.

Legal restrictions

Electroshock guns are generally used for self defense, or by law enforcement to subdue, for example, an out-of-control prisoner. They are illegal or subject to legal restrictions on their availability and use in many jurisdictions. Reports of the devices being used for torture or as interrogation tools have led the United States to place restrictions on export of the devices. Critics point out that any country could easily duplicate the relatively simplistic device. They contend that the restrictions are only to draw attention away from the use of the devices for torture domestically.


The use of these devices, particularly by law enforcement, is sometimes the subject of debate.

Concerns have been raised about the risks that a stun gun poses to people with heart disease, and there have been reports of deaths of such individuals after stun gun use. The manufacturers recommend that the devices not be used on people known to have heart disease. It should be pointed out that alternatives to the use of stun guns also have substantial risks of their own.

Stun guns have been used at political protests such as those by the anti-globalization movement. Members of this movement have argued that the technology, and other "non-lethal" weapons, are likely to become tools for suppressing legitimate protest.

The use of stun belts has been condemned by Amnesty International as torture, not only for the physical pain the devices cause, but by what they view as the psychological torture they inflict on people wearing one. They have also raised extensive concerns about the use of other electro-shock devices by American police and in American prisons, as they can (and according to Amnesty, sometimes are) used to inflict cruel pain on individuals without leaving the telltale markings that a conventional beating might. The American Civil Liberties Union has also raised concerns about their abuse in prisons. There have been several well-publicized instances in which stun belts were accidentally activated by careless court personnel and criminal defendants were shocked for no justifiable reason.

Electric shocks have been used as an instrument of torture in many countries around the world.

Doubts over their effectiveness as self-defense weapons

Although these devices are usually advertised as very effective "personal defense" weapons, many security operators and martial arts experts genuinely doubt their effectiveness against determined and physically strong aggressors in a real melee combat situation and their value as a defense weapon in general.

Their claims are that "stun-guns" need much more continuous and uninterrupted contact time with one's intended target than usually advertised, well above 5 seconds, to effectively stop a determined assailant, and that much time can be impossible to achieve against a "physically superior" or better-trained opponent in close unarmed combat (street fight, mugging, etc).

In such an event, the likely outcome would probably be merely irritating the assailant and have the "stun-gun" being broken, taken away, or used against oneself for retaliation, after giving its intended user a false sense of security and power. See these links: [2] (http://www.righteouswarriortemple.org/New%20Folder/wtn.htm), [3] (http://www.ou.edu/oupd/zappers.htm), [4] (http://www.paxtonquigley.com/useless_weapons.html).

It is argued that this declassifies all but the most powerful of Electroshock/Stun guns into self-assurance, last resort pseudo-weapons or even mere torture instruments only meant to deliver pain to subjects who would not be able to escape or effectively defend themselves anyway (elderly and invalid people, animals, bound prisoners, detainees, torture victims etc.).

External links

de:Taser sv:Elchockpistol


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools