As a self-defense instructor, I’ve been asked the question many times over the years: What’s the most practical martial art I can learn just to protect myself? My unequivocal answer has been: Forget martial arts. Get a Taser. While it might not have been the answer they were looking for, I believe it’s the truth. The reason being is that any instrument that requires little-to-no training to use effectively, that can be used in a non-lethal manner, up close or at a distance, to incapacitate an attacker, and that is legal to carry, is by far a better immediate self-defense approach than learning a martial arts style, which can take years to be able to use effectively in an attack scenario.
Every time I give this answer, however, it follows with a variety of questions regarding use and legality. There seems to be some confusion about just what a Taser is, who should use it, and how or when it should be used. So, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Tasers and stun guns.
Taser vs. Stun Gun: Which is Better?
Let’s be clear: A Taser is not a stun gun. Stun guns are not actually guns, in that they do not emit projectiles. Rather, they simply create an electronic current between two small conductors located on the device. Tasers, on the other hand, actually project two small metal hooks attached by extremely thin conductive wire to emit an electrical charge. Hence, Tasers are actually more gun-like than stun guns. Also, whereas stun guns are utilized to create momentary pain, Tasers are used to disrupt muscle activity and thus incapacitate the target while the charge is active. So it’s important to be clear on which is the best option for you. Here are some general benefits of each over the other:
- Stun guns are usually far less expensive than Tasers.
- Whereas Tasers, like the Taser X26, look and feel like guns (except for the Taser C2, which could be mistaken for a large cell phone if viewed from a distance), stun guns can come in smaller varieties, like key chain stun guns, or as disguised devices, like cellphone stun guns.
- In some states, there are fewer restrictions on the use and carrying of stun guns than there are for Tasers
- Tasers incapacitate individuals, whereas stun guns only create a temporary painful shock when in contact with a target.
- Tasers can be used at a distance, while stun guns must make contact with the target.
- Tasers can also be used up close and personal—they double as stun guns once the projectile is fired.
- The Taser X2 fires 2 projectiles for multiple targets or in case of a miss.
- Tasers have a built in flash-light and laser beam, which are automatically activated when in the fire-ready position.
Since Tasers can be used at distance to incapacitate an attacker, I would certainly recommend them over stun guns. However, if Tasers are a bit pricey for you, a stun gun is also very effective to at least gain the momentary advantage you’ll need to escape.
Taser vs. PhaZZer: What’s the Difference?
PhaZZer is Taser’s only real competitor. PhaZZer makes very comparable products, with similar specifications, designs, and pricing. While the precise differences in specs are beyond the scope of this article, there is some interesting material out there comparing the two. Bottom line is, there isn’t much difference. If you ask a number of different security professionals, you might get a number of different preferences and reasons. So, if you’re more trusting of a brand name, you might go with Taser, as it is the original standard for law enforcement.
Who Can and Should Use a Taser: Police or Civilians?
The quick answer: both! There are certain versions of the Taser specifically made for law enforcement, which are illegal for civilians to own or carry. And there are great, reliable, effective products made for civilians as well. These are typically legal to own and carry, depending on your state’s laws.
In What Situations Can a Taser or Stun Gun Be Used Legally?
Each police department has its own rules regarding use-of-force and use of less-lethal weapons, based on departmental policy and state laws. So here I will answer this question as it applies only to civilians. The short answer is: In self-defense situations ONLY. In other words, a Taser or Stun Gun is only to be used in order to protect oneself in a manner reasonable and necessary to defend the level of attack. Tasers and stun guns are weapons. That means, you better be able to clearly articulate why this was the most reasonable use-of-force during your scenario. Otherwise, if used offensively or without reasonable intention of simply defending yourself or others, you could be charged with assault or battery. Again, it is extremely important that you understand your state’s stun gun and Taser laws, and that you are aware of how and when your state constitutes justifiable self-defense.
These days, it’s an unfortunate fact that EVERYONE needs a self-defense plan. It simply does not make sense to remain naive by believing an attack could never happen to you or someone you love. Do your homework, ask more questions, and make a decision as to the right self-defense approach for you. Martial arts are great to learn for a variety of reasons; but Tasers and stun guns are fantastic self-defense instruments to own, whether you know martial arts or not. The Home Security Superstore has all varieties of civilian Tasers and stun guns when you’re ready. Good luck and stay safe!
Author: Jeremy Pollack
Jeremy Pollack is a self-defense and security expert. He has been teaching martial arts since 2001, with high-level rankings in several disciplines. Jeremy is also former reserve military for the state of California, where he was a member of the Military Police unit, as well as a California licensed private security and firearms operator. He holds several security certifications, including the Military Emergency Management badge from FEMA, the US Army’s Anti-Terrorism Level 1 certificate, California’s PC832 Firearms & Arrest certifications for Law Enforcement, and the California Military Department’s Security Force certification, among others. Read more about Jeremy at www.CoachJeremyPollack.com.