How Stun Guns Work

Generally, stun guns are used for personal protection and by the police and the military as a non-lethal method to enforce compliance and control. Stun guns don’t permanently injury, but will temporarily disable an attacker.  

A stun gun is a very simple piece of electrical equipment. Generally the stun gun is powered by a nine-volt battery. The battery delivers power to a set of transformers which increase the voltage and move the charge down the circuit. Then the electrical charge is sent to an oscillator, which causes the current to alternate or fluctuate to deliver the correct amperage, or electrical strength when released. The electrical charge then goes to a capacitor, which builds up and storage the charge. When required the capacitor shoots the current to a set of two electrodes that are spaced apart. This spacing makes the attacker’s body complete the circuit causing the charge to pass into the attacker’s body. To be effective, both electrodes should be in contact with the body.

Stun guns generally deliver a charge of between 100,000 to 300,000 volts at about three amperes, or amps.  The effects of such a charge may range from some pain to physical collapse and the inability to move for 15 minutes or more. While sounding like a huge amount of voltage, it is not harmful and the low strength of three amps or less, may cause temporary issues but no permanent damage.     

All muscles in the body are controlled by nerves and the nerves do their job through chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters use electricity to control the muscles. Essentially the effect on the body of the electrical charge is to temporarily scramble the neurotransmitters that allow for voluntary muscle movement. Neither the brain nor any other internal organs are affected by the stun gun charge. The actual affect on the attacker depends on the physical size of the attacker, how long the electrodes are in contact with the body and the voltage the gun delivers. If the attacker is large and the contact is too short or the voltage too low, the attacker may not be completely disabled.

Stun guns and tasers are similar but not the same, even though the names are often used interchangeably. A stun gun must be in contact with a body to cause any effect. A taser uses a small gas charge to fire the electrodes to a range of about 20 feet, keeping the potential attacker at a distance.