Archive for Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Taser company developing shocking shotgun shells

February 22, 2006

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— The nation's largest stun-gun manufacturer is working on a new way to deliver electricity to the human body: through 12-gauge shotgun shells.

Though it's still being developed, Taser International Inc. says the new product will allow police officers and U.S. troops to hit someone from a much greater distance than its current line of Tasers, which Amnesty International has cited in more than 120 deaths.

The eXtended Range Electro-Muscular Projectile, or XREP, will be a shotgun shell designed to combine the blunt-force trauma of a fast-moving baseball with the electrical current of a stun gun.

"It will truly cause incapacitation," company spokesman Steve Tuttle said.

Taser hopes to release the product in 2007. The Office of Naval Research funded the approximately $500,000 it took to develop the shotgun shells.

The company has been selling its stun-gun weapons to law enforcement agencies since 1998. Today, more than 175,000 Tasers are being used by more than 8,500 agencies in the United States.

More than 100,000 of the devices have been sold to private U.S. citizens, and U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq also use them, Tuttle said.

Tasers shoot two barbed darts that deliver 50,000-volt jolts to the human body using a special electrical wave form that overwhelms the nervous system and temporarily paralyzes people.

But the weapons, considered by the company to be low-level-force devices, can hit a target only about 25 feet away.

Test models of the XREP shells currently reach 100 feet, though the military has challenged the company to extend the range to 330 feet, the company said.

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