Taser Announces Model for General Public

Stun gun company Taser International Inc. announced Tuesday it will release a scaled-down version of a weapon used by law enforcement officers for sale to the general public.

The announcement by Taser comes at a time when the Scottsdale, Ariz.-company is enjoying increased visibility because of recent agreements to equip airlines with its stun guns.

Taser is also coming off its first profitable year since its founding in 1993, which company President Tom Smith attributed to interest from airlines and the public in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"It's fun to be part of the package of solutions that's helping people who are scared since September 11," Smith said.

The public version of the Advanced Taser, used by about 1,100 police agencies in Canada and the United States, should be available nationwide by February. The stun gun costs between $150 and $600.

On display this week at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, the public version looks like a Glock .45-caliber handgun with yellow stripes on the side, Smith said.

It's powered by alkaline batteries and fires electrically charged darts of between seven and 18 watts that temporarily immobilize an attacker.

The police version has 26 watts of power.

Smith and his brother, Rick, originally launched the company with a different product, a hand-held remote stun system called the Air Taser. That stun gun, which roughly resembles a flat-sided flashlight, was originally sold on the consumer market.

The company later introduced the pistol-shaped Advanced Taser and began marketing it for law enforcement.

Since the terror attacks, the company has signed agreements with three airlines, including United Airlines, to equip flight decks with stun guns. Smith said more airlines have expressed interest pending FAA approval, expected by the end of March.

Smith said the company has doubled its revenues in each of the last three years.

Fourth quarter revenues for 2001 are expected to help give the its first profitable year since its founding, he said.

The company said it will make a profit of about $400,000 on expected 2001 revenues of $6.9 million. The company's 2001 earnings will be released next month.

Smith said the company expects to have revenues of $12 million this year.

"That estimate is very conservative, and it's based on our core market, which is law enforcement sales," Smith said. "The potential growth with the airlines and the public are real upsides."