How Stun Guns Work
A stun gun is a self defense device that discharges electricity, disrupting the human body’s natural electrical signals. Most stun guns have between two to four metal contacts that, when touched against someone, will immediately send an electrical charge into the body. The ensuing electrical charge affects the central nervous system and will incapacitate even the largest of men. But how does it work and how much damage can it cause? To answer those questions it’s important to review basic concept of electricity and how it affects the human body.
A common misconception among many people is that the shock from a stun gun can cause serious injury or death. While it’s true that exposure to electricity can lead to serious organ damage and death, this is not true of stun guns. If an electrical charge is high in amps it can lead to death, but high voltage will do nothing more than cause pain. Think of voltage as pressure or intensity and amperage as speed. The human body can take a lot of electrical “pressure” (voltage) at a low current or “speed” (amperage). The higher the speed, the more likely that severe damage will occur. Most stun guns can emit a charge of up to several million volts, but less than 10 milliamps. So a stun gun sends an electrical charge at a great intensity into the human body but does so at a very low rate of speed.
The following table gives examples of amperage and the effect on the human body;
- 1 milliamp – Tingling Sensation in the muscles.
- 3 – 5 milliamps – Muscle contractions, moderate pain, loss of balance and disorientation, some voluntary muscle control is still maintained.
- 6 – 15 milliamps – Painful, complete loss of muscle control.
- 100 – 200 milliamps – Extreme pain, Ventricular fibrillation (uneven, uncoordinated pumping of the heart.) Muscular contraction and nerve damage begins to occur. Death is likely.
THE MYTH OF STUN GUN DEATHS
Tasers (a brand of stun gun) used by police have been wrongly blamed for some high profile deaths in recent years. However, subsequent investigations have shown that the deaths were mainly caused by outside influences and not the stun gun itself. Most of the individuals who died after contact with a stun gun were under the influence of mind-altering drugs like cocaine. According to research, the presence of cocaine in the bloodstream increases the “shock” from a stun gun by 50 to 100 percent.
Source: Ten researchers led by Dr D Lakkireddy from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio, and reported in the August 2006 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
So, it isn’t actually the stun gun, but the presence of “illegal” drugs that was the catalyst. Without the presence of drugs in their system, they would have experienced a mild shock. The charge generated from a stun gun alone cannot cause death. Two to five milliamps simply isn’t enough amperage to cause death to a human being. However, when that amperage is increased by outside influences, the stun gun, or the user can’t be blamed.
HOW A STUN GUN DISRUPTS ELECTRICAL SIGNALS IN THE BODY
Electricity is present in the human body, without it we wouldn’t be able to perform simple tasks. The brain sends an electrical signal to nerve cells which then sends it to muscles telling them to expand or contract, to perform a particular function like walking or picking up an object. The muscle then sends a message back to the brain telling it what an object feels or tastes like. All of these messages travel through the central nervous system.
A stun gun works by disrupting this communication between the brain and nerve cells. The muscles are confused by this disruption and the ensuing electrical shock tells them to contract and expand rapidly. This rapid movement and resulting stress on the muscles depletes the blood sugar and converts it to lactic acid. In layman’s terms, the muscles are forced to do a massive amount of work in a short time and are too exhausted to perform even the most basic functions, like standing up. This leads to a loss of balance and disorientation which will typically last thirty to forty minutes, and there is no permanent effect on the human body.
The effects of a stun gun will vary based on many factors; the type or model, how many seconds it touches an attacker, the size and weight of the attacker, and the physiological makeup of the individual. However, as a general guideline the following is usually true;
- One second of contact will exact some pain and cause muscles to contract.
- Two seconds of contact will lead to moderate pain, muscle spasms and some loss of balance.
- Three seconds of contact will cause intense pain, confusion, disorientation and lead to a complete loss of balance.
Stun guns are a great self defense option, especially for women. They disrupt the natural electrical signals traveling through the central nervous system causing disorientation and a lack of balance. They pack a powerful punch but leave no lasting damage. For people who are uncomfortable carrying a lethal weapon like a fire arm, a great non-lethal solution is a stun gun.