The Taser, or stun gun, has become ubiquitous on our screens. Whether you’re watching YouTube videos, the nightly news, Dexter, Burn Notice, or Death Race, and any number of other shows and movies, you’re probably going to see someone get stunned. Maybe it’s hilarious, like in The Hangover or maybe it’s not.
You’d think that with so many real videos of bros, grandmas, and the wheelchair bound being stunned almost nightly on the news and internet that Hollywood would have a pretty firm grasp of how a Taser works and what it does to a person. You would, of course, be wrong.
At least most of the time. Strangely enough, the one bit of media listed above that actually got the stun gun right was the comedy: The Hangover. In that film, a character experiences a painful zap that looks all kinds of unpleasant, but is otherwise, and shortly thereafter, just fine.
Dexter, on the other hand, misuses the Taser in a very common Hollywood way. In last night’s episode our vigilante was on the receiving end of a blast from a stun gun and was rendered instantly unconscious for what must have been at least twenty minutes. First he’s standing there, all aware and shit, and next thing Dexter knows he’s in the back of a van at a remote meeting place.
Problem being, Taser’s don’t do that, Hollywood. Stun guns are not knock-out guns. They’re not an easy pass for knocking someone out, blacking them out, and letting them be kidnapped. A stun gun works by applying what is scientifically known as a shit ton of electricity to the body. In terms of fucking you, amperage is what is dangerous, not volts. Stun guns deliver a bunch of volts, but a very minimal amount of amperes, which is why they’re called “less than lethal” weapons – not fry your ass guns. So anyway, what happens when you’re subjected to a 2-3 second burst of electricity is your muscles generally lock up. Your body sends electrical impulses to itself to make you breath, walk, talk, and high five your friends. What the Taser does is flood your body with way too many electrical impulses, which makes you freak out, seize up, and generally fall down.
Once the charge stops, your body goes back to normal in just a few seconds, without blacking out. If you’re wondering if this is true, just go back to YouTube and watch the Bro get tased. Or watch anyone get a stun gun applied to them. Have you ever seen someone get knocked out? Now, if you had a constant, relatively high voltage applied to you for a long time, sure, you might pass out, but not from the electricity. You’d either have trouble breathing (since your entire body is seized up), pass out from the pain, or black out from radical changes in your blood pressure from all the stress. Luckily, stun guns and tasers don’t allow you to really hook someone up to a battery and let it run long enough to knock you out.
So listen up, Hollywood. Tasers and stun guns are cool. They have their place in very temporarily stunning a person. They are not knock-outs in a cool, buzzing package. Anytime I see someone go nighty-night after a few seconds dancing with the stun gun, I go past my boiling point.