As an officer, I often hear civilians talk about the Taser as a non-leathal alternative to guns for personal defense. While I believe Tasers are a wonderful tool for law enforcement, I think they are a terrible idea for self defense. Here’s why:
Deterrence is Taser’s True Strength
For officers, the best part about Tasers is that people know we have it, we will use it, it will hurt, and they will go to jail with little to show for their trouble, so it prevents many more fights than it ends. Unfortunately, that’s not going to help you, because in most cases the bad guy you’re trying to defend against isn’t going to know you have a Taser, and isn’t likely to warn you before he attacks, so you won’t have the opportunity to deter him by displaying your Taser.
Tasers Are Hard To Use Effectively
Whereas a single last-second “oh crap!” gunshot from the hip to an assainant’s center mass can drop him just as well as a carefully aimed shot at 30 yards, Tasers are really only effective at a range of 2-5 yards, and aim is essential. Anything closer than 2 yards, and your probe spread will be so close that you probably won’t get the incapacitation effect you want, while anything further than 5 yards, or not carefully aimed, will likely miss with one of the probes, rendering the tool no different than an old-school stun gun. It’ll hurt, but so will the bad guy’s fists extracting revenge.
In order for the Taser to be effective, you must hit the target in not one, but two locations, with a single shot. Tasers come with a laser sight that tells you where the top probe will probably go, but there is no indicator for the second probe, which is fired diagonally below the point where the red dot appears. Basically the targeting of the second probe is a guessing game, where you aim as high as possible, in the hope that the second probe doesn’t miss low.
This targeting problem is further complicated by Taser’s insistence that you avoid targeting the chest, to reduce the probability of possible cardiac issues triggered by the Taser’s neuromuscular incapcitation effect. But wait! Don’t crush a testicle with that lower probe! Basically, you are expected to fire the top probe into their belly, and the lower probe into one of their legs, as they attack you. Good luck with that!
You Only Get One Shot With a Taser
Unlike a gun which has a magazine carrying many additional rounds, with each new round automatically chambered, and ready for use with a simple pull of the trigger, as it stands, the version of the Taser available to the public is a single shot device. That means that if you don’t get both probes into the target the first time, you’re SOL! You could carry additional cartridges, but the bad guy probably won’t give you the opportunity to reload.
You Probably Don’t Want to Carry an Arsenal
Unlike a uniformed officer, who has a small arsenal on his belt, to fall back on in case the Taser doesn’t work, you probably don’t want to carry more than one tool for self-defense as you go about your daily business. A small handgun can deter or even stop an attack in progress through nothing more than it’s mention or display, but it can also give you multiple opportunities to stop an attack at basically any distance through the application of force to almost any part of the attacker’s body, if necessary. Hit his pinky, no problem with a gun! Many attackers will beg you to stop after losing their wittle piggy!
Taser is Not a Cure-All
The Taser is a wonderful tool for law enforcement, as it allows officers the opportunity to overcome physical resistance to arrest with much less risk of injury to officers and suspects alike, by preventing the suspect from fighting, just long enough for officers to close the distance gap and restrain him more effectively. By contrast, I believe that the Taser is a foolish choice for civilian self-defense, as it is an intermediate force option, that really needs to be supported by higher-level force options, just as demands for rogue nations to comply with international law need the threat of war to be an effective tool.
What what do you think? Am I misrepresenting the Taser somehow? Have you ever been hit by a Taser? Have you ever fired a Taser into someone? Do you know anyone who has? Tell us about your Taser experiences!