DOSWELL, Va. (WRIC)—Food, rides and farm animals are all common at the State Fair of Virginia. But stun guns? More and more women are putting down the pepper spray and arming themselves with stun guns.
Manufacturers are behind the trend, focusing on the female and making the weapons cute in color and shape. They don't just come in basic black anymore; they're now pretty in pink. Some look like lipstick holders, others come disguised as phones. But can they actually save your life?
Crowds of women inside the state fair's vendor room seemed to be drawn to the "Damsel in Defense" booth.
"It's very, very busy," said booth worker Beverly White. "We've been ordering as much as we can to keep it in stock."
Prices vary depending on style and power; they all come with a flashlight.
"I think it's just terrific, because I think women need something to protect [them]selves," said customer Lynn Mundy. "I think this is a good way, rather than having to carry a gun, because I'm not good at guns and I don't want a gun."
Even Colonial Shooting Academy in Henrico now sells the non-lethal, pink personal protection. Dwayne Lewis of CSA knows these devices can pack a powerful punch—he's been zapped.
"I sell a large variety of ‘em to women," Lewis said. "I always like to refer to it as like a fish flopping on the ground; when they hit you with these things, you just have no control."
But is this just a gimmick, or cold this lipstick-like zapper really fend off an attacker?
"I do kind of like the idea of it looking like an everyday item," said retired police captain Steve Neal. "I think this particular weapon can be as effective as some of the others."
But to make it work, Neal says you have to get close to your attacker.
"With a stun type of weapon, it has to be placed against the body and therefore in order for it to work, you have to be within arm's reach of the assailant," he said. "If you're within arm's reach of the assailant, then of course your personal risk goes up significantly."
Taser brand devices—which CSA sells—allow you to hit your target from up to 15 feet away, but they sell for roughly $400, compared to about $50 for a stun gun. But no matter which device you go with, both Neal and Lewis recommend practice.
"Like any tool, you got to take classes; you gotta learn how to use it," Lewis said.
Neal says it's important to remember that a stun gun is a weapon.
Though stun guns are legal in Virginia, there are some exceptions: they can't be used on school grounds, or in courthouses or airports. Convicted felons can't carry them. You also can't stun someone just because you're mad at them.
"If you use more force than is necessary and reasonable by law, then you could find yourself in trouble both criminally and civilly," Neal said.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
301 Arboretum Place, Richmond
Can't find something?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.