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Saturday
Nov122011

Taser Maker Says Device Has Been Law Enforcement 'Game Changer'

Comstock/Jupiterimages(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) -- The founders of Taser International Inc. say they developed their version of the Taser as a safe form of protection, but since the wide release of their product, the Arizona-based company has become a magnet for dozens of lawsuits and controversy.

"There have been years where our litigation budget has been higher than our research," said founder Rick Smith. "You hear about the cases, but what you don't hear about is all the cases it avoids."

Just this week, a lawsuit that includes Taser International was filed in Albemarle County, Va., and claimed a deputy was responsible for a man's death after shooting him with a Taser during a traffic stop last year.

Roughly every three minutes, someone somewhere in the world gets Tased -- and that's just by law enforcement. It doesn't include the countless numbers of people who shock their friends for kicks and post the videos on YouTube, or even the comedic scenes from the likes of "The Hangover," "South Park" and "Nurse Jackie."

Smith and his brother, Tom Smith, founded Taser International in the early '90s, after two friends were shot to death in a road rage incident and their mother started to worry about her own safety.

"She tried pepper spray, she tried stun guns, ended up buying a Doberman pinscher," Tom Smith said. "We kind of looked at that and said, 'We can put man on the moon, but the way people fundamentally defend themselves is the way we fought the Revolutionary War.'"

The brothers tracked down an ex-NASA scientist, Jack Cover, who invented the first TASER or the "Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle," in the 1970s. Then, using parts from Ace Hardware, they modified it for a broader market.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio