A stun gun creates a high-voltage electrical charge. It transfers this energy to the target through electrodes that are attached to the device.
The electrodes on CEWs have pointed metal barbs that can puncture the skin. These injuries can cause scrapes, bruises, and lacerations.
But despite the fact that it hurts, a stun gun cannot kill a person. Millions of volts won’t do the trick, even for a large, determined attacker.
1. It’s a lot like getting hit in the funny bone x 10,000
There’s a reason police carry stun guns, also known as conducted electrical weapons (CEWs). They can help prevent injuries such as broken arms and torn rotator cuffs that would require workers comp and insurance payments.
Stun guns fire probes that hit the attacker’s body and shock their neuromuscular system. A strike lasting one to two seconds causes intense pain, muscle spasms and mental confusion. That can cause the aggressor to lose his balance and fall to the ground.
The electrodes on the stun gun target a nerve cluster called the Brachial Plexus. Hitting that area causes a feeling like hitting your funny bone — but it’s 10,000 times more painful. The shock also messes with your heart. Some people experience cardiac arrest after a stun gun strike, though scientists don’t know why this happens. Strikes from a Taser are also known to disrupt short-term memory and make it difficult to process information, which is why some people advocate for police to delay questioning or reading Miranda rights to those who have been stunned.
2. It’s a lot like getting hit in the groin x 20,000
Stun guns (also called conducted electrical weapons, or CEWs) are used by police officers and law enforcement to incapacitate people who are resisting arrest or otherwise acting aggressively. They work by shooting two electrodes into a person’s skin about an inch apart, and then delivering a series of electrical pulses to their nervous system and muscles.
These pulses cause the muscles to twitch, shake, and contract, which makes them less able to control their movements. They also dump a lot of confusing noise into the person’s brain, making it hard to tell the brain what the body is supposed to do.
The electrodes on a stun gun can cause puncture wounds, as well as bruises and scrapes, especially if you hit someone multiple times or for longer than they need to be stunned. In very rare cases, they can trigger a muscle disease called rhabdomyolysis, which can be fatal without immediate medical attention. Rhabdomyolysis happens when muscles become overstimulated and overcontracted, releasing proteins into the bloodstream that can damage kidney function and lead to death.
3. It’s a lot like getting hit in the chest x 50,000
Unlike a taser, stun guns require direct contact with an attacker to work. While this is an advantage for many people, some are uncomfortable with the prospect of being so close to their attacker or feel that a stun gun is less effective than a taser because it cannot “shoot” probes at distance.
A stun gun works by generating a high-voltage electrical charge that disrupts the body’s normal communication system. This dumps a lot of confusing data into the person’s nervous system, and confuses their muscles so they can’t send out any signals telling them to move.
Some stun guns claim to have extremely high voltage – sometimes up to 100 million volts – but this is not physically possible. Voltage measures the force of the current, not the pain it induces. The most a stun gun can deliver is about 30,000 volts, depending on how tightly the contacts are spaced. This is enough to cause extreme pain and immobilize an attacker.
4. It’s a lot like getting hit in the thigh x 50,000
A stun gun (also known as a CEW, or “citizen’s arrest weapon”) sends an electrical charge into a person. This causes the muscles to twitch at a high frequency and shake. The muscles do this work even though the signal doesn’t tell them to move or not, but they deplete energy and make it difficult for the victim to move or breathe. In addition, a person who is shocked by a stun gun may experience skin lacerations and scrapes. Rarely, a CEW jolt can trigger a serious condition called rhabdomyolysis, in which components of muscle protein are released into the bloodstream.
Stun guns can be used to immobilize an attacker, but they require close contact. They operate at a lower voltage than tasers, and they are less effective if the attacker is at a distance. Also, a stun gun must be activated manually, and this is not easy to do under duress. It’s a good idea to practice using a stun gun regularly to be sure that you can fire it quickly in an emergency.