SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Taser International Inc. (TASR) on Monday rolled out a new version of its stun gun intended for civilian use, calling the devices "the next generation in personal protection."
The new Taser C2, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, come in a variety of colors, including metallic pink. Scottsdale-based Taser's primary customers now are police departments and the military.
The new weapon's introduction comes after a weekend that saw two people die after police shocked them with Taser devices.
A 45-year-old man died in Fort Pierce, Fla., on Saturday after police used a Taser to try to subdue him while he struggled with officers in the back of a patrol car. Douglas John Ilten, of Nashville, Tenn., had been stopped after acting erratically and throwing musical instruments out of a truck at a gas station.
On Sunday, police in New York City used a Taser to subdue an emotionally disturbed man at his Queens home. Blondel Lasseque, 38, went into cardiac arrest after being shocked and died.
Following the deaths and Taser's announcement of its new product, Amnesty International USA renewed its call for an independent and comprehensive study into their use. The group said more than 220 people have died after being shocked with Tasers by police and placing the stun guns in the hands of average citizens could have "devastating consequences."
Tasers shoot darts attached to wires from the gun and deliver a 50-thousand volt jolt of electricity, incapacitating the person.
"How many deaths related to these devices must occur before we have concrete, impartial information that accurately describes the potential dangers of use?" said Larry Cox, executive director for Amnesty International.
Taser says 30 different wrongful death or injury claims have been dismissed or successfully defended in recent years and claims it has not lost a product liability suit.
Taser hopes the latest version helps broaden its sales. The company introduced a civilian model in 2004, but many states banned them or required background checks.
The new gun is designed to make it easier for consumers to comply with state laws and buy the devices. The C2 can't be activated until the buyer completes a process known as SureCheck, an online background check that can be done in about a minute.
"The Taser C2 is the next generation in personal protections," company Chairman Tom Smith said. "Taser International was founded to create safer personal protection alternatives, while utilizing technologies to maximize public safety and minimize the potential for misuse — and the Taser C2 continues in that tradition.