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Stun Guns Selling Like Hotcakes

March 25, 1985

DALLAS (AP) _ A type of stun gun has become a hot item in Dallas, with bar owners buying them for their bouncers, husbands arming their wives and security agencies replacing the traditional billy clubs, tear gas and other non-lethal weapons.

John Walker, owner of Judge Roy Bean’s Restaurant in Dallas, has armed all 13 of his managers with the Nova XR 500s.

″I think they’re great,″ Walker said. ″... You need some way to protect yourself. My whole family has them.″

Sales of the battery-powered weapons have been soaring since they hit the shelves recently in local hardware and sporting goods stores and gun shops, the Dallas Times Herald reports.

″When the last shipment came in, I had so many people that wanted them I was almost out again,″ said Bob Pool, owner of Bob’s Pawn and Swap.

Similar weapons fire barb-tipped wires that deliver an electric current, but the one selling out here is a box-shaped weapon with two small metal prongs on one end. When pressed against the skin, the prongs transmit a 50,000-volt charge that causes a person’s muscles to relax, leaving him conscious but immobile for as long as 15 minutes. The only adverse effect, police said, are small bruises where the prongs touch the skin.

Legislatures in Michigan, New York, Wisconsin and Hawaii have outlawed the devices, saying they will be used by criminals. Several other states are considering similar action. Illinois, Florida and Georgia have restricted public use of them.

″I think in the wrong hands this device could be devastating,″ said Ilinois state Rep. Terry Steczo, who is sponsoring legislation to ban public sales of the weapons. ″For a criminal on the streets, it almost could be like picking cherries.″

But in Texas, no organized objections have been raised.

Dallas police Capt. Rick Stone said he doesn’t think the device will be abused. ″I see it mostly as a defensive weapon,″ he said.

Interest in stun guns was heightened locally in January when Dallas police announced they would begin testing them as a possible alternative to the use of physical or deadly force against violent suspects.

Police said they were attracted by the gun’s manageable size, its price and its claim to leave no lasting effects on its victims. Police will decide later this year whether it will become a permanent part of the department.

Austin-based Nova Technologies Inc., which makes the $79.95 guns, says they are the ″way of the future.″

″Certainly there will be people who fight it, but it’s high-tech, and it’s the way things are going,″ said Conley Giles, Nova’s vice president of consumer affairs. He said the company has sold more than 100,000 of them since it opened in 1983.

Glen’s Sporting Goods in Irving has been selling 10 to 12 stun guns a day, said store manager Raymond Duxbury.

″People that want protection but don’t want to kill anyone are the ones that are buying them,″ Duxbury said.

Pool, who has stocked the weapons for eight months, said he put one to the test recently when an intoxicated man started knocking over displays at a Fort Worth flea market he was attending.

″He was a big one, and I didn’t want to trade licks with him,″ Pool said. ″I just touched him (with the gun), and he collapsed.

″I dragged him outside the door and left him there. He just came to 10 minutes later and left.″

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