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Stun Gun Maker Expands Marketing

January 9, 2002

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PHOENIX (AP) _ An Arizona company whose stun gun is popular with police launched a big marketing push Tuesday to sell a scaled down version to the general public.

A public version of the Advanced Taser, which is used by about 1,100 police agencies in Canada and the United States, has been sold since January 2000 at a handful of stores catering to security businesses.

After the Sept. 11 terror attacks spurred new interest, Taser International Inc. decided to try to expand sales, said company President Tom Smith. Taser hopes to have the guns in 500 stores by next month, he said.

``It’s fun to be part of the package of solutions that’s helping people who are scared since Sept. 11,″ Smith said.

The Taser announcement comes as the Scottsdale company enjoys increased visibility after recent agreements to equip airlines with its stun guns. The company expects fourth quarter profits to give it its first profitable year since it was founded in 1993.

The public version stun gun looks like a Glock .45-caliber handgun with yellow stripes on the side. Powered by alkaline batteries, it uses compressed air to fire electrically charged darts of 18 watts that temporarily immobilize an attacker.

The police version has 26 watts of power.

An original seven-watt public version, which roughly resembles a flat-sided flashlight and is sold in specialty stores, costs $120. The 18 watt public version, complete with a laser sight, sells for $600.

The public version stun guns can be bought without a permit in 43 states since they don’t use gunpowder, Smith said. Seven states have laws restricting the possession of electronic weapons: Hawaii, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

``Of course in the wrong hands this could be used improperly,″ said Lt. Bob Gervasi, a SWAT team commander with the suburban Mesa Police Department whose officers use the police version stun gun. ``But it’s like every less-lethal weapon out there. If it gives someone the ability to protect themselves, it’s a worthwhile product.″

Since the terror attacks, the company has signed agreements with three airlines, including United Airlines, to equip flight decks with stun guns. Smith said more airlines have expressed interest pending FAA approval, which is expected by the end of March.

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On the Net:

Taser International: http://www.airtaser.com

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