Consultant for writers on crime, police, & court procedures.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

TASERS and other ECDS

I've written about TASERS and similar weapons in the past but after reading a suspense novel this week, it's time to mention them again.  

The book was great.  Well-developed characters with a plausible yet suspenseful story line.  The police procedures were portrayed accurately, but for one thing. The writer made the same mistake I have seen in three other novels in the last two years.  The hero is zapped with a "stun gun" which immediately knocks him unconscious.

Does't happen, folks.  Stun guns, or more properly, "electronic control devices" (ECDs) are extremely painful but they don't bring on a loss of consciousness.  And once the current stops, there is no further pain or discomfort.  When the current stops, the effect stops.
An ECD causes all loss of muscle control, so the person usually falls to the floor.  Then, during the moments when the person is still disoriented and in fear of another 'zap,' he can be contained, handcuffed, or whatever.

Less-lethal weapons like the TASER are frequently used by law enforcement agencies to overcome suspect resistance. They have saved the lives of officers and suspects alike. Agencies equipped with TASERs have seen a significant decrease in officer and suspect injuries. I often convinced a combative suspect to surrender merely by shining the TASER’s red laser aiming dot on his chest. TASER (all caps) is a trademarked brand name of a specific electronic control device.  The acronym stands for Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle.  While it is the best known ECD, there are other brands. Some models are marketed only to law enforcement; others are available to civilians.  The term "stun gun" is not used in law enforcement to describe these weapons.

If you need to knock your character unconscious, perhaps consider having his head hit something hard when he's targeted with a "stun gun."

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