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THE manufacturer of the Taser stun gun is sparking new controversy with the commercial launch of a long-range version that can be fired from a 12-bore shotgun.
Government-funded tests on initial versions of the new Extended Range Electronic Projectile (XREP) have revealed possible health risks to people on the receiving end, New Scientist has learned.
A team led by Cynthia Bir, a trauma injury specialist at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, found that some of the 275 XREP cartridges that Taser supplied for testing last year were capable of delivering an electric shock for more than 5 minutes, rather than the 20 seconds of shocking current they are supposed to generate. Previous Taser stun guns shock for only 5 seconds per discharge, though that can be repeated.
The effects of prolonged shocking are not known, he says, but the finding raises concerns about the potential damage to a victim's mental health.