What Is the Difference Between a Stun Gun & Taser?

By Andrea Carson
A taser is designed for distance.
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A lot of people use the term “taser” and “stun gun” interchangeably, but there are significant differences between the two. One is devised to be used at a distance while the other can only be used in close quarters. Neither of these weapons are designed to kill under normal use. However, if they are used excessively, continued exposure could possibly cost the perpetrator his life.

Stun Guns and Tasers Are Not the Same

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Tasers are the product of Taser International and Taser is the trademarked name for the device. Tasers are used by law enforcement across the country in states where they have been approved for use. It is the only product that can be used from a distance, whereas a stun gun must have direct body contact to be effective. Tasers have a maximum range of 15 feet. Stun guns come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are produced by several different manufacturers. There is only one product that carries the name Taser.

It Is Legal to Possess a Taser or Stun Gun in Some States

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It is perfectly legal for anyone to own and carry a stun gun or a Taser for self-defense in most states. Stun guns and Tasers are illegal in the following states: Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

How Stun Guns Work

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Stun guns emit a high voltage current that stuns the subject and produces a high degree of pain. Stun guns affect the sensory nervous system without inflicting permanent injury. It takes about 3 to 5 seconds for the electrical impulse to disable the assailant which will make it difficult for the person to function or move for several minutes. Stun guns have not been shown to have any significant effect on an individual’s heart or any other organs in the body. Stun guns work best when they are used on specific areas of the body, preferably any area where there is a high concentration of nerves that are close to the surface of the skin, such as the stomach, neck or hips.

How Tasers Work

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Tasers discharge two metal probes which are 15 feet in length. The probes attach themselves to the attacker and emit electrical impulses. Unlike stun guns, tasers do not rely on pain. Instead it attacks the motor nervous system. The motor nervous system lies inside the muscle and underneath the muscle tissue. Taser uses what is called an NMI (Neuro-Muscular Incapacitation) system to shock and disable the sensory nervous system as well as motor nerves.

Basic Differences Between Stun Guns and Tasers

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Stun guns are very effective in fending off attacks and must come in direct contact with the assailant. There is no risk of danger to the victim if the assailant is touching or holding them when the stun gun is used. A high voltage stun gun would be above 800,000 volts but can be purchased with voltage readings as low as 100,000.

Tasers can be used in different ways. A taser can be used at a distance of up to 15 feet away from the potential assailant. The probes that are released when a taser is triggered deliver an electrical pulse which is equally effective regardless of the part of the body it contacts and can penetrate up to 2 inches of clothing. Tasers can also be used as a stun gun in that it will deliver an electrical pulse when the taser unit comes in direct contact with the body. This is particularly helpful if the metal rods miss the target. Tasers have a one-button function that releases the probes and basically turns the device into a close quarters defense weapon like a stun gun.

About the Author

Formerly a teacher and consultant on computer operations and software applications for business schools, Andrea Carson is the owner and publisher of "Seniors of Las Vegas (SoLV)," a free magazine that deals strictly with issues involving senior citizens. Carson has a varied background that includes administrating nursing services, ad development, writing novels and screenplays and ghostwriting.