An electroshock weapon is a less-lethal weapon that utilizes an electric shock to incapacitate a target by either temporarily disrupting voluntary muscle control and/or through pain compliance. There are several different types of electroshock weapons.
Pritish Kumar Halder discussed electroshock weapons, their principle of operation, and their effectiveness and also discussed their use.
Electroshock is not a taser, though the two terms are often used interchangeably, stun guns and Tasers refer to two different devices. Stun guns administer an electric shock through direct contact, whereas a taser device administers the shock through thin flexible wires connected to two probes that are fired into the target.
WHAT IS A STUN GUN?
- A device used to temporarily paralyze the attacker by administering an electric shock without causing any serious injuries is called a Stun gun.
- Stun guns are designed to momentarily disable the attacker without causing any long-term damage.
- In close-range self defense, nothing knocks an intruder down more quickly and efficiently like a stun gun.
- Generally, a contact of half a second will cause the intruder to feel a sudden shock. 1-2 seconds would result in dizziness. 3 seconds can incur the loss of muscular control and imbalance paired with disorientation.
- A typical circuitry consists of multiple transformers, boosts the voltage in the circuit, typically to between 20,000- 150,000 volts, and reduces the amperage.
HOW IS IT EFFECTIVE?
- It utilizes high voltage energy to immediately immobilize and incapacitate the attacker. It transfers the energy into the muscles of the attacker at a high pulse rate which causes the muscles to work involuntarily, but very inefficiently.
- This process dismisses the very basic function of the attacker’s movements. This makes the attacker disoriented and confused momentarily, but won’t be fatal or incur any harm to his vital organs.
- The electric impulse passing to the attacker will not affect the person who is holding the stun gun even if there were to exist a physical contact.
HOW TO USE A STUN GUN?
- Place it against the attacker’s body in a way that electrodes come against a part of the body that will not move much say shoulder or upper hip.
- Hold it against the attacker continuously for a few seconds.
- Hold the gun for a longer duration of time if the attacker is big in size.
- Easy to use.
- Compact size.
- No permanent damage.
Principle of operation
Electroshock weapon technology uses a temporary high-voltage, low-current electrical discharge to override the body’s muscle-triggering mechanisms. Commonly referred to as a stun gun, electroshock weapons are a relative of cattle prods, which have been around for over 100 years and are the precursor of stun guns. The recipient is immobilized via two metal probes connected via wires to the electroshock device.
The recipient feels pain, and can be momentarily paralyzed while an electric current is being applied. Essential to the operation of electroshock, stun guns and cattle prods is sufficient current to allow the weapon to stun. Without current these weapons cannot stun and the degree to which the weapon is capable of stunning depends on its proper use of current. It is reported that applying electroshock devices to more sensitive parts of the body is even more painful.
The maximum effective areas for stun gun usage are upper shoulder, below the rib cage, and the upper hip. High voltages are used, but because most devices use a less-lethal current, death does not usually occur from a single shock. The resulting “shock” is caused by muscles twitching uncontrollably, appearing as muscle spasms.
The internal circuits of most electroshock weapons are fairly simple, based on either an oscillator, resonant circuit (a power inverter), and step-up transformer or a diode-capacitor voltage multiplier to achieve an alternating high-voltage discharge or a continuous direct-current discharge. It may be powered by one or more batteries depending on manufacturer and model.
The amount of current generated depends on what stunning capabilities are desired, but without proper current calculations, the cause and effect of high voltage is muted. Output voltage is claimed to be in the range of 100 V up to 6 kV; current intensity output is claimed to be in the range of 100 to 500 mA; individual impulse duration is claimed to be in the range of 10 to 100 µs (microseconds); frequency of impulse is claimed to be in the range of 2 to 40 Hz;
Electrical charge delivered is claimed to be in the range of 15 to 500 µC (microcoulombs); energy delivered is claimed to be in the range of 0.9 to 10 J. The output current upon contact with the target will depend on various factors such as target’s resistance, skin type, moisture, bodily salinity, clothing, the electroshock weapon’s internal circuitry, discharge waveform, and battery conditions.
Manufacturers’ instructions and manuals shipped with the products state that a half-second shock duration will cause intense pain and muscle contractions, startling most people greatly. Two to three seconds will often cause the recipient to become dazed and drop to the ground, and over three seconds will usually completely disorient and drop the recipient for at least several seconds.
Taser International warns law enforcement agencies that “prolonged or continuous exposure(s) to the TASER device’s electrical charge” may lead to medical risks such as cumulative exhaustion and breathing impairment.
Because there was no automatic stop on older model Taser devices, many officers have used it repeatedly or for a prolonged period of time, thus potentially contributing to suspects’ injuries or death. The current X26 model automatically stops five seconds after the trigger is depressed and then the trigger must be depressed again to send another shock.
The trigger can be held down continuously for a longer shock or the device can be switched off before the full five seconds have elapsed. The devices have no protections against multiple police officers giving multiple shocks, cumulatively exceeding the recommended maximum levels.