New Taser Device Can Shock Three People Without A Reload
July 28, 2009 - 7:05 AMTaser International has introduced its first new stun gun since 2003: a device capable of shocking three people without being reloaded.
"This is as big a step as when firearms went from a muzzle loader to the revolver," company CEO Rick Smith said. "If I was a cop, I'd want to carry one."
Older Taser stun guns, in use by 14,200 law enforcement agencies throughout the United States, have to be reloaded after one shot, which can be a problem for an officer who has missed a target or has more than one suspect to subdue.
The new device was unveiled Monday at the Scottsdale-based company's annual conference with a demonstration by Smith and his brother, Taser International Chairman Tom Smith. Hundreds of law enforcement officers applauded after watching the two fire rounds of barbed wire at metal targets.
Fred Cheatham, an officer with Escondido police in California, said the new Taser seemed bulky but he liked that it could be fired three times without reloading.
"I can see a lot of applications for that," Cheatham said.
The new stun gun will be available to law enforcement agencies in late August. It costs $1,799, compared with $799 for the older model, though Rick Smith said law enforcement agencies could trade in their older ones for credits worth $300 to $800.
Like the older models, the new stun gun shoots two barbed wires that deliver about 6 watts of electrical current for several seconds, temporarily immobilizing people. But instead of just one set of wires, the new device shoots three.
The new stun gun, which can hit people up to 35 feet away, is about 2.5 inches wide and 7 inches tall. It weighs less than two pounds.
The new model can be used against three people, but can also target the same person more than once. Rick Smith said each barb delivers a separate shock.
The device also will allow for greater accountability because it has sensors that measure each discharge, he said, and that data can be downloaded and analyzed.
Human rights groups contend Tasers cause heart attacks. But Taser spokesman Steve Tuttle said the company has won 96 of 97 wrongful-death and product liability lawsuits filed against it and is appealing after being found 15 percent responsible in the one suit it lost.
Curt Goering, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, said that while he hasn't been able to fully examine the new Taser, it raises concerns.
"The new models will likely fuel the controversy about the potential lethality or abuse because there's potential for repeat Tasings," Goering said.
He said his organization generally supports the development of non-lethal force for police agencies, but officers are using Tasers far too often.
Rick Smith said Tasers are saving suspects' lives and saving police departments money that would have gone for workers' compensation for injured officers and litigation stemming from the use of firearms.
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