DETROIT - With Tasers now legal in Michigan, more people are considering carrying them for personal safety.
Mark Alexander, the owner of Urban Tactical Defense Center in Eastpointe said he is getting several inquiries about Tasers.
"I've been getting people from all walks of life, male, female, senior citizens," said Alexander. "We have security agencies now coming to us for training, but as far as the private citizen, it's been a wide variety."
The new law took effect in August, under it, anyone with a Michigan concealed pistol license can own a Taser. However, they must receive Taser training at the point of sale.
Melissa Mattox and her husband recently took the class to get their concealed pistol license.
"I am just more aware when I go out now I am looking around and just how I did stuff before I'm already changing how I do things," said Mattox.
Mattox, who lives in Madison Heights, has a daughter and likes the Taser as an option for personal protection and to protect her family.
Linda Stankiewicz of Sterling Heights owns two handguns and carries pepper spray. She too likes the option of a Taser.
"I carry it right in my purse," said Stankiewicz. "Being a single older woman, I go a lot of places alone and with crime going up because of the economic status, I was really afraid that I could be jumped in a parking lot going into a store."
The Michigan law states someone can use a Taser in situations that justify the use of physical force. But people cannot buy just any Taser or stun gun.
"The only type of Taser that is legal to carry in the state of Michigan is the ones that dispense what they call AFID's, ant-felon ID tags," said Alexander.
Those tags can be used to track the owner of a Taser if it's ever used in a crime. Alexander said stun guns without those tags are not legal to carry. He also said Taser International is the only company that sells Tasers that are legal in Michigan.
The Tasers are good to use within 15 feet and they cycle for 30 seconds.
Alexander also wants people to know that the only training that's required to own a Taser is that received at the point of sale.
"I have unfortunately had people come to me that have received so-called Taser training from other entities that have been charged a considerable amount of money," said Alexander. "They will come to me and show me their certificate and say 'Hey, I have a certificate of training, I want a Taser,' and unfortunately that certificate means nothing to me because the law requires that I give them the training."
Alexander recommends you check out a list of authorized instructors and certified training centers. Taser.com and Michigantaser.com both list authorized dealers and trainers.
While some are in favor of people using Tasers, Tom Berry, a retired investigator from the Detroit police department is not in favor of civilians carrying Tasers.
"Policemen can carry the Taser on one side and the gun on the other. They have the gun as a back up," said Berry.
Berry said if someone is going to carry, they should carry a firearm.
"You don't need to carry a Taser, that's my personal opinion. There's too many things that can go wrong. With a Taser, you get one shot. You better hit them with both because if you don't they're coming after you. Three, what if they're wearing real bulky clothing and those little barbs don't go all the way through the clothing and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they don't, then you know what, the Taser is really useless isn't it?" said Berry.
Alexander said there are risks associated with the Taser if it gets into the wrong hands, including children, and it could cause serious harm.
"It is a less lethal option. It is not a lethal device and it is not considered a firearm by the FBI, however it still can be dangerous if shot in the face, the eye, the throat, just like with anything, it could cause serious harm," said Alexander.
As for Mattox and Stankiewicz, they like having the Taser in their arsenal of personal protection.
"I just think that would be a great thing for especially moms. I think they would be more comfortable having something like that," said Mattox.
"It used to be that I wouldn't go anywhere without my grandson, so now I can go out at night and have the Taser there to protect me," said Stankiewicz.
Alexander said if you ever find yourself needing to use the Taser to protect yourself, don't ever worry about leaving the Taser behind.
He said the company will replace it.
Alexander, who is also a law enforcement instructor, said the civilian Tasers cost between $379 and $999 depending on the model you choose.
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