Taser, also called taser, in full Tom A. Swift Electric Rifle, handheld device that incapacitates a person by transmitting a 50,000-volt electric shock. … A Taser can also be used as a stun gun by pressing it directly against the target’s body, thereby administering the electric shock.
The Taser gun is one of three types of weapons that are known collectively as stun guns. The other two devices are known as the hand held stun gun and the liquid stun gun. As their name implies, these weapons are designed to be a non-lethal defense, rather than an offensive weapon capable of causing deadly injury.
Stun guns like the Taser operate by disrupting the electrical flow of signals through nerve cells. This electrical flow drives the ability of the muscles to respond to commands from the brain, and allows information that the body receives from the outside world (i.e., touch, taste, smell) to be communicated to the brain. The disruption of the nerve cells is achieved by the generation of an electrical charge by the Taser that has a high voltage and low amperage. Put another way, the electrical charge has a great deal of pressure, but is not intense. The pressure of the charge allows the charge to penetrate into the body, even though several layers of clothing. In order for it to be effective, the person must be close, even in direct contact, with the electrodes of the Taser. Because the electrical charge is not intense, the brief surge of electricity is not powerful enough to physically damage the person’s body.
Inside the body, however, the electricity is powerful enough to temporarily disable the nervous system. This occurs when the added charge mixes with the electrical impulses flowing through the nerve cells. The added electricity overwhelms the meaningful signals, making it impossible for the brain to interpret the signals from the nerve cells. Confusion, difficulty in balance, and muscle paralysis results.
Only about one-quarter of a second is required to incapacitate someone. Once the electrical swamping of the nerve impulses has abated—within a few seconds to a minute—recovery is complete with no adverse effects. Tests have shown that even heart pacemakers are not affected by Tasers.