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The Standard Stun Gun: How it Works

A standard stun gun works fairly simply using two 9V batteries to develop the voltage across the two electrodes. The batteries are the source of electricity for the circuit inside the stun gun. The circuit contains many different elements including transformers which serve to amplify the voltage in the circuit while reducing the amperage. In addition, oscillators create a pulse which in turn charges up the capacitors. The charged capacitors are what deliver the shock to the person by delivering it to the electrodes. Below is a diagram of the circuit.

The two electrodes are where the action happens. The electrodes are simply metal conducting plates with a gap between them. In a typical stun gun there are two sets, the test electrodes and the charge electrodes. The test electrodes are close enough that when

the trigger is held down to close the switch in the circuit, the current is able to jump between the test electrodes and create a visible spark. The charge electrodes have a gap too large for the current to jump. To activate the charge electrodes, a conductor must be placed in between them. Humans are as good a conductor as any, so when the stun gun is pressed against a person with the trigger depressed, the current tries to jump between the charge electrodes and as a result the electricity will flow into the person.

How Stun Guns Affect the Body

Many people may think that a stun gun works because it produces electricity and electricity is bad for you. This is not entirely true. We use electricity to do things on a daily and even hourly basis. The way we do this is by sending electric signals from our brain to our nerve cells which in turn release neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are then what communicated with the muscles in our body and tells them what to do so

that we are able to accomplish the desired task. As a result, without electricity we would not be able to function.

The way a stun gun works is by interrupting the communication signals from the brain to the body. A stun gun does not harm a person permanently; it only temporarily disrupts the way our body functions. A stun gun wont cause damage in the long run because the electricity that it delivers into a persons body is very high voltage but low amperage electrical charge. In this way, the charge is not intense enough to cause any long term damage to the person.

So when you press the stun gun against a person and deliver the shock to them, a few things happen contributing to their following stunned condition. The electric shock delivered by the stun gun will combine with the electric signals from the brain and this will confuse your body and make it hard to move. Another effect the stun gun can have is causing a person to do excessive amounts of work directed towards nothing in a particularly short period of time. This will use all of the persons energy so that they will temporarily be unable to do anything.

Types of Stun Guns

Three types of stun gun weapons are made for retail. The first is a static charge gun which immobilizes people by using an electric current powered by static charge. The

second gadget is called a Phase Induction gun, which delivers a charge to living creatures through an electric current achieved through phase induction. The final type of stun gun is the T-Wave gun. This device disrupts the brains signals to the body by means of an electric current completed with EMD (Electro-Muscular Disruption).

Static Charge Gun:

The power this gun uses, measured in joules per second, ranges from 9-20 electric watts. The voltage given off by this weapon is between 80,000 and 625,000. The amperage of this and all other stun guns is relatively low. It could be calculated using

P = I*V

According to this equation, the current falls in the range from 1.44*10^-5 to 2.5*10^-4 Amps. Notice that this amperage is very low and therefore wont cause permanent damage to a person. This weapon builds up static charge in a capacitor, which is then discharged to deliver the electric shock.

Phase Induction Stun Gun:

This gun generally uses 7-15 watts of power and gives off a voltage of 100,000 to 625,000 volts. The gun would then have a range of 1.12*10^-5 to 1.5*10^-4 Amps. Notice that this amperage is also very low and therefore wont cause permanent damage

to a person. It utilizes a more effective method of shock where the current is released in intervals made possible by oscillators inside the gun. This allows the gun to generate a feeling of about 100,000 more volts than it actually uses.

T-Wave Gun:

The T-Wave gun is somewhat different than the two previous models. This gun contains two conducting projectiles attached to wires, which are fired out of the gun, hit a target, and release a shock. The wires are fired by compressed gas in an air cartridge, usually nitrogen that expands when the gun is fired. The gas generates the projectiles speed of 135 to 175 meters per second. The voltage of the gun varies from model to model, but can be measured by taking the advertised voltage multiplied with the distance between each probe. This gun uses more power than the others, about 18-26 electric watts. This greater power accompanied by a pulse of electricity allows the weapon to take over the electric signals from the brain, not just disrupt them as the other guns do. This means that both the brains signals to the body and the bodys signals to the brain are controlled. This makes for a much more effective shock. These guns are usable and accurate at distances ranging from 3 (minimum) to 21 (maximum) feet. A diagram of this gun is shown below:

Additional Types of Stun Guns

The Liquid Stun Gun:

This type of gun is not as compact and portable as the ones previously described, but it works the same way. To me this type of stun gun can be thought of as a very dangerous super soaker, a super soaker being a type a water gun that Im sure most are familiar with. This gun works the same way as that of the T-wave gun described above except that it uses water streams in place of wires to carry the current. A diagram of this type of gun is shown below:

When one pulls the trigger, the electric current travels through the water stream and into the attacker. The problem with these types of stun guns is that they have to be hooked up to a tank of the highly conductive fluid. This is not exactly something you could put into a purse or something of that sort. There are tanks that you can wear on your back, but to me that seems like you would then be looking for people to shock instead of simply using the gun in an unexpected attack for self defense. The liquid gun, however, does have a few advantages. The accuracy of this gun is better than the T-wave gun and in addition, it can be fired many times in a row. So those are two good things about this gun. Overall, this isnt exactly a typical self defense weapon someone might carry when going out for a night on the town, but it gives you an idea of the alternate kinds of stun guns that are out there.


Though it is stated in most research that stun guns leave no permanent damage, there are still several restrictions of the weapons use. There are seven states and six cities that restrict use of a stun gun because of their power as a weapon: STATES Massachusetts Wisconsin Rhode Island New York New Jersey Michigan Hawaii Baltimore, MD Annapolis, MD Washington D.C. Chicago, IL Philadelphia, PA Denison, IA CITIES

Stun guns are not lethal when properly used, but there has been at least one death attributed to stun gun misuse. On June 29, 2000, at Wallens Ridge State Prison, inmate James Frazier was shocked with a stun gun after his disruptive behavior. The stun gun was continually fired until the victim went into a coma and eventually died. This case has prompted even more research on the controversial weapon.

Brief History

The stun gun or taser was invented in the 1960s by a man named John Cover. Cover was trying to create an electric non-lethal weapon to control violent criminal behavior. He named the resulting tool a taser, which is an acronym standing for Thomas A. Swifts Electrical Rifle. Then in 1970 Cover began to advertise his product to law enforcement agencies who disregarded the gun as a valuable??? tool. The airline industry and civilians however were very interested in the new gadget, and sales began to rise. As this was happening, investigations were taking place to determine the legality of this new weapon. It was decided in 1976 that the gun was a firearm and therefore couldnt be sold to civilians. Sales plummeted, and stun guns were close to extinction. Then in 1980, the Los Angeles police department took a chance on the weapon based on their own research and bought many to use in their law enforcement. This led several other law enforcement agencies to use the gun, and the restrictions on sales to civilians to be lessened. Since this time, taser usage has risen and become a popular choice around the law enforcement community.

Stun Guns on the Market

Stun Master 100,000V Stun Master 625,000V Talon 200,000V (phase induction)

These are just a few of the many that there are out on the market. Visit for many more options. In addition to the traditional looking stun guns on the market, there are also ones that take on more of a disguise for optimum self defense. Probably the most common disguised Stun guns look like cell phones or flashlights. Below are pictures of these disguised stun guns.

Group Members:

Jason Hyland Josh Cherner

12/8/2002 Physics 135-2 Stun Guns