Tech Industry

A Taser shotgun for long-range electrifying

Maker of controversial stun guns completes testing on a shotgun that delivers a walloping dose of electricity.

Taser International will move into production on a projectile that can disable someone up to 98 feet away with a quick blast of electricity.

The company has successfully completed tests with the Office of Naval Research on the Extended Range Electro-Muscular Projectile (XREP). Unlike current Taser guns, this projectile is fired out of a shotgun. When it strikes a target, the projectile transmits a jolt of electricity, and a second round can then be fired.

In current Taser guns, the projectile has the same function, but it is connected to the gun and a power pack with a wire, limiting the range to 25 feet. XREPs are wireless.

The electrical jolt in wired Taser weapons is generally powerful enough to knock a person over and make him or her writhe in pain. Although the company did not state the size of the charge that XREPs release, testers said it was powerful enough for crowd control.

"The effect locked up muscles and totally overwhelmed the senses," said Stephen Kunich, with Air Force Air Combat Command Security Forces and one of 35 volunteers who lined up for a five-second test. "I was completely incapacitated. Additionally, I was amazed at the instantaneous physical recovery," he said.

Taser has been embroiled in controversy for the past few years. Many civil liberties organizations believe that the weapons have led to several deaths, despite being billed as nonlethal. The company denies these claims and asserts that the weapons lead to fewer fatalities, because they give police an alternative to using a gun in many circumstances.

A formal product launch of the XREPs will occur next year.