Taserware Parties Are All The Rage

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Forget Tupperware; it’s Taser-party time

The Associated Press

GILBERT, Ariz. — Before she lets them shoot her little pink stun gun, Dana Shafman ushers her new friends to the living room for a chat about the fears she believes they all share.”The worst nightmare for me is, while I’m sleeping, someone coming in my home,” Shafman said, drawing a few nods from the gathered women.

Shafman, 34, of Phoenix, said she knows how they feel.

Welcome, she said, to her Taser party.

On the coffee table, Shafman spreads out Taser’s C2 “personal protector” weapons that the company is marketing to the public. It doesn’t take long before the women are lined up, whooping as they take turns blasting at a metallic target.

“C’mon!” she said. “Give it a shot.”

Shafman isn’t an employee for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser International. She’s an independent entrepreneur selling Tasers the way her mother’s generation sold plastic food-storage containers.

As a single woman who lives alone, she said she’s the perfect pitchwoman for Taser as it makes a renewed push to sell weapons to families.

The company agrees. Taser officials like Shafman’s homespun sales tactics so much they planned a living-room set at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and asked Shafman to hold a Taser party for buyers and dealers. The show, which runs from Monday to Thursday, is the world’s largest tech-trade show.

Taser doesn’t expect its dealers to start imitating Shafman. But spokesman Steve Tuttle said company officials think people can learn from her approach.

“When I talk about Taser, I come across as a salesman,” Tuttle said. “When you see her, it comes across as very real.”

Shafman, a freelance construction consultant, said she always had a natural interest in self-defense products. She loved the idea of the Taser, which would allow her to stop an attacker from across the room without getting physical.

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A lot of people, especially women, need time to get comfortable with a product such as Taser before they’ll consider buying one, Shafman said.

So the Taser party was born.

Shafman said she has sold about 30 guns a month at $349.99 since her first Taser party Oct. 15. She doesn’t get a commission from Taser. Instead, Shafman said she gets a discounted dealer rate for the units and keeps the difference.

Though it packs the same electric punch, the C2 — launched in August — is smaller than the bulky personal stun guns Taser developed years ago, and its sleek exterior makes it look more like an electric razor than a weapon. They are legal in every state but New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Michigan, Wisconsin, Hawaii and Washington, D.C.

Shafman said many of her customers love that the C2 is small enough to fit in their purses and comes in a variety of colors. When it comes to choosing weapons, she said, a lot of women want them in pink.

“It’s a girl-power kind of thing,” she said.

Not everyone is a fan. Amnesty International, which has criticized Taser’s assertion that its weapons are nonlethal, frowns on the C2 and any attempt to spread the use of stun guns.

Officials with the human-rights organization said the weapons are frequently used in excess by trained police, and they’re likely to be abused by the public, too.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

~ by gorightly on January 6, 2008.

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