Learn the Interesting History of the Taser

The Taser is a device that has become synonymous with law enforcement and self-defense. It is a non-lethal weapon that is designed to incapacitate a person temporarily. Although it is now a common tool for police officers and security guards, the history of the Taser is fascinating and filled with interesting facts and stories.

How it works

When a taser is activated, two electrodes are launched from the device towards the target. The electrodes are attached to conductive wires that deliver an electrical charge to the target’s body. This electrical charge disrupts the communication between the brain and the muscles, causing temporary paralysis. 

The taser’s electrical charge also causes involuntary muscle contractions, which can cause the target to fall to the ground. Tasers are designed to be used at a safe distance from the target, reducing the risk of physical confrontation. Tasers are used by law enforcement authorities worldwide as an effective tool in non-lethal force situations.

taser gun

Early developments

Kunio Shimizu’s 1966 US patent describes an electrical discharge gun with a unique feature – a projectile connected to a wire with a pair of electrode needles for skin attachment. The patent, titled “Arrest device”, outlines a device that could potentially be used by law enforcement personnel for non-lethal means of restraining suspects. The device would be fired at a suspect, and upon contact with the skin, an electrical discharge would be delivered, incapacitating the individual.

Its initial purpose was to disperse Civil Rights activists who were protesting against racial discrimination and police brutality.

Jack Cover, a NASA researcher, was a prominent inventor who contributed to the development of non-lethal electric weapons. Cover’s contribution came in the form of a patented device that he named the TASER in 1974. 

The TASER was designed to utilize an electric current without posing any danger to the user or the target. The invention was similar to other stun guns that were invented in the 1960s and 1970s. Cover’s invention revolutionized law enforcement techniques, as it provided officers with a non-lethal method of subduing suspects.


The term “TASER” is derived from the title of a book written by the Stratemeyer Syndicate under the pseudonym Victor Appleton, titled Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle. The book featured Tom Swift, a childhood hero of inventor Jack Cover, who went on to develop the Taser. The name “TASER” makes sense as it delivers an electric shock, similar to the electric rifle in the book. The name was also inspired by the acronym of “laser,” as both weapons fire beams at an object.

armed police equipped with taser

Becoming available to the market

The introduction of the TASER Public Defender in 1976 marked a significant milestone in the development of non-lethal self-defense weapons. However, this particular model faced a regulatory hurdle due to its use of gunpowder as a propellant to launch the probes. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms classified it as a firearm, citing potential risks to public safety.

Despite this setback, the TASER Public Defender was still marketed and sold to the public, albeit with certain restrictions and regulations.

In 1993, Rick Smith and his brother Thomas established the company TASER, with the aim of exploring safer and more effective options for law enforcement officials and citizens to use force. The brothers collaborated with Cover at their facilities in Scottsdale, Arizona, to develop an electronic control device that would not involve firearms. This marked a significant breakthrough in the field of law enforcement, as the TASER device could potentially minimize the risk of firearm-related injuries or fatalities.

In 1994, the company released the Air TASER Model 34000 conducted energy device, which was a significant development in non-lethal self-defense technology. It featured an innovative “anti-felon identification (AFID) system” that prevented the possibility of criminals using the device. 

The AFID system released small pieces of paper containing the TASER device’s serial number upon use, which could aid in tracking down any potential misuse. The U.S. firearms regulator, the ATF, confirmed that the Air TASER conducted energy device was not a firearm. The AFID system and the device’s overall design made it a safer and effective alternative to traditional firearms for law enforcement and civilians alike.

More recent models

TASER International, now known as Axon, has been a pioneering force in the development of non-lethal weapons for law enforcement and military personnel. 

In 1999, they unveiled the Advanced TASER M-series systems, which incorporated a patented Neuromuscular Incapacitation (NMI) technology. Subsequently, in 2003, the TASER X26 conducted energy device was released, featuring innovative shaped pulse technology. 

The X3, released in 2009, features the ability to fire three shots before reloading. Axon’s commitment to innovation and progress continued with the release of the TASER 7 in 2018, showcasing the company’s dedication to providing reliable and advanced non-lethal options for those in the field.

taser, pepper spray and pistol

Current models

At present, Axon offers three models of TASER CEWs, each designed to meet specific needs and preferences of their users. These models are designed to provide less-lethal alternatives to traditional firearms, and allow for safe and effective control of suspects in various situations. The products are developed with the latest technology to ensure effectiveness, reliability, and safety for both the user and the suspect.

The TASER X26P device is a single-shot CEW that is considered the most compact and smallest SMART WEAPON of all current Axon models. The device is designed to incapacitate a target without causing serious injury, making it an ideal option for law enforcement officials to subdue violent offenders. In contrast, the TASER X2 is a two-shot CEW that includes a warning arc and dual lasers.

Upcoming developments of the Taser

Axon made a major announcement on January 24, 2023 regarding their latest product, the TASER 10 device. According to the company, the TASER 10 is set to be “less-lethal weapon of its era”, which has generated a lot of excitement and anticipation amongst law enforcement and the public. Despite the hype surrounding the device, the TASER 10 is still in its prototypical stages and has not yet been released to the public or law enforcement.