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Taser "Parties" Pitching Them To Women

Call it a modern-day girl's night out.

Dana Shafman throws "Taser parties" to try to sell the weapons to women -- civilian women.

Shafman, 35, from Scottsddale, Ariz., remarked to Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez at one such party, "There's Tupperware parties ... and there's candle parties, and there's every other party, but there's no party that addresses safety."

The stun-gun-type weapons have proven controversial, even in the hands of law enforcement officers, but Shafman, who heads, says it's time they were sold to everyone. "I think," she says, "we rely on others to make us safe, versus actually thinking about how we can make ourselves safer."

Adding yet another layer of controversy is the attractive colors and packaging the Tasers now come in, about which Shafman says, "That's just so that the consumer market is more aware of the product and it's more appealing to them, because there is a level of fear associated with the product, because they've not had any hands-on use with the product, which is why we push the Taser party for the education portion of the product."

Women get to shoot Tasers at targets at the parties.

Rodriguez allowed herself to be on the receiving end and says, "I was surprised. I felt paralyzed almost and incredible pain."

Asked if the women she's selling Tasers to know the kind of power they're buying, Shafman responded, "That's a part of the reason we do a party is so that they can actually experience the power and trust the power of the Taser to protect themselves in those situations that you just don't foresee."

And some attendees seemed convinced, saying, " I don't feel I could responsibly carry a firearm, because I'm a little scared of guns, but I know for sure that I can responsibly carry a Taser." Another said, "I feel empowered; I feel like I'm 6 feet tall and 250 pounds!"

Women at the party did have questions about Tasers, including whether special training is needed to use them (it's not, but they come with an instructional video), and whether Taser owners need be concerned that someone might get hold of the weapon and turn it on them.

To which Shafman says, "If I've got a choice as to what weapon my attacker is going to attack me with, I would much prefer them get me with a Taser than with a gunshot to the head or a knife stabbing to the chest."

Nearly 13,000 different agencies in 45 countries have used non-lethal Tasers, and the same company that makes them for police, Taser International, is the one producing them for consumers.

The company's chairman and founder, Tom Smith, explained to Rodriguez that, "First, it fires out two probes that attach to the target." Then, "It'll send an electrical signal into the body that makes the muscles contract and release 19 times per second, immobilizing the attacker or suspect for 30 seconds, allowing you to get away for safety."

Tasers are legal in 43 states, but anyone who wants to buy one must have a background check. first.

Police who use Tasers DO have to be trained -- so why don't civilians?

"For law enforcement," Smith answered, "it's a totally different scenario -- they're going offensively -- where, on the civilian side, it's truly a defensive mode where you're trying to protect yourself."

That doesn't sit well with critics of civilian Tasers, such as Miami Police Chief John Timoney, who says, "My sense is, if they get into the hands of bad guys, nothing good can happen."

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