What is a Stun Gun? (with picture)

R. Kayne
R. Kayne
Stun guns have not been shown to have any negative effects on the heart.
Stun guns have not been shown to have any negative effects on the heart.

A stun gun is a non-lethal weapon that discharges a high voltage low-amperage shock, which will immobilize an attacker for several minutes without doing any lasting harm. Stun guns are considered reasonable force to resist attacks, are legal in most states, and can be carried concealed or unconcealed, without a license.

A stun gun does not shoot anything. Instead it looks similar to a portable phone, with two prongs protruding at one end. When you push the pronged end against an attacker and pull the trigger, an electrical charge passes into his body.

A stun gun acts on the muscular and neural systems, rather than relying on pain. The discharge over-stimulates the attacker's muscles causing them to work extremely hard and fast, but inefficiently, resulting in loss of balance and control. The stimulation of the muscles depletes the attacker's blood sugar by converting it to lactic acid. Without blood sugar, the muscles have no energy to function, rendering the attacker immobile. This biological domino effect occurs within seconds of being stunned, and the attacker enters a mental stupor.

Stun guns come in a variety of models that will deliver charges ranging from 50,000 to 625,000 volts at about 3 milliamps, or 0.003 amperes. The charge delivered by a stun gun will pass through the clothes of an attacker, but it will not pass back into the body of the one wielding it, even if there is ample body contact between attacker and victim.

The length of time a stun gun stays in contact with the attacker determines what kind of affect the gun produces. A contact time of 1/2 second will get an attacker's attention and cause some discomfort and muscle contractions. Contact time of 1-2 seconds will daze the assailant and produce muscle spasms, while 1-5 seconds delivers the maximum benefit of total loss of muscle control and balance. Recovery time will be several minutes.

Stun guns have not been shown to have any negative effects on the heart or organs. With a lethal dose at 1 full amp, the amount of amperage needed to be considered even moderately dangerous is well beyond what a stun gun is designed to deliver.

Stun guns work best with 9-volt NiCad rechargeable batteries, though alkaline batteries will also work. Stun guns will deliver several discharges before requiring battery replacement or recharging.

Some states restrict the use of stun guns. Before purchasing a defensive weapon, be sure to check with local law enforcement for applicable laws.

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Discussion Comments


@cmsmith10: Stun guns and Tasers are similar, but not the same thing. They use identical technology to send a current of high voltage, low amperage electricity through the targeted individual. The biggest difference in the two is their range.

Stun guns are used up close and they are re-usable. Tasers can only be fired once in fast moving situations. The Taser is shaped like a pistol and made of colored plastic. The Taser’s electrodes are not directly attached to the actual body of the Taser. It has long wires connecting the electrodes. When you pull the trigger, compressed air pushes the electrodes away and the wires trail behind to maintain their connection to the battery.


Are stun guns and Tasers the same thing?

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    • Stun guns have not been shown to have any negative effects on the heart.
      Stun guns have not been shown to have any negative effects on the heart.