Stun guns are non-lethal weapons designed to incapacitate a potential attacker without causing serious injury. They are most often used as a self-defense weapon.
Stun guns have been around since the 1700s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that they became popular as a form of personal protection. Today, they come in a variety of styles and are mainly divided into three categories: Tasers/smaller hand-held devices, stun batons, and keychain versions.
Electrical Whaling Apparatus
Whaling has been a brutal, bloody business for centuries. But in 1852, two Germans came up with a solution to the problem: electricity.
On March 30, 1852, Albert Sonnenburg and Philipp Rechten of Bremen, Germany, patented an “Electric Whaling Apparatus.” The device allowed whalers to kill their victims with electric shocks instead of the traditional harpoon.
It also shaved off some of the time it took for each whale to be killed. But even with a successful technique, it would be years before it was used in large numbers.
In the meantime, other methods of killing whales were tested: gas harpoons, poison curare, and a variety of other devices.
One of the most controversial methods was a method known as electrical stunning, which consists of having electrodes placed over the head and allowing current to pass through them. It was feared that this might lead to cardiac fibrillation, but research revealed that the currents were far too small to cause this.
The earliest known stun gun was a cattle prod invented in the late 1800s. It was a long barrel with two prongs attached that delivered electrical shock through a cow’s hide.
A livestock handler can use a cattle prod to drive herds of cattle. However, they can also be a source of injury for cattle.
Livestock prods are often used to drive herds of sheep, goats, pigs, or cattle into a specific direction. They can be shaped like a stick or paddle and are typically made of plastic.
They are a humane way to move animals but should be used sparingly on farms and slaughterhouses. They should never be wired directly to house current. They should be hooked to a transformer. Fifty volts is the maximum voltage for most battery powered prods.
Jack Cover, who invented the stun gun that became known as the TASER, died on February 7, 2009, from Alzheimer’s disease at age 88. He was a New Yorker by birth but lived in Chicago where he earned a doctorate in physics studying under Enrico Fermi, the father of the nuclear bomb.
During the 1960s, Cover began developing a non-lethal weapon to counter hijackings and riots. He patented the idea in 1974 and called it the Thomas A. Swift Electronic Rifle or TASER, which was derived from one of his favorite books, Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle.
The device fired electrically charged darts at a target, which temporarily disoriented the assailant. The guns were technically considered firearms, so sales were hampered by strict state and federal regulations until Cover’s Arizona brothers, Rick and Tom Smith, introduced a new version that used compressed air instead of gunpowder. This version was re-classified as a non-firearm. It is now the world’s most popular projectile stun gun, and it’s sold to law enforcement agencies in 45 countries.
The Taser is a device used by law enforcement to disarm suspects without hurting them. It delivers a strong electrical shock and is considered non-lethal by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The Taser was invented in the 1970 s by Jack Cover. He was a former military test pilot with a doctorate in nuclear physics. He patented the Taser in 1974.
He had noticed a spike in airplane hijackings and wanted to develop a better way of dealing with them than killing them.
The earliest stun guns delivered a five-second burst of electricity, which was considered non-lethal by the US Consumer Products Safety Commission. Today’s devices are much more powerful and deliver a higher energy charge. They also produce more frequent shocks and can be activated continuously, even while an officer is holding down the trigger.