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Chat and zap merge as a new Taser makes inroads with civilians.
Published Oct. 20, 2008

On a recent Saturday evening, Judy Bevirt invited a couple of friends to her Mount Dora home for drinks. They sat at her kitchen table, snacking, sipping wine and gossiping before turning their attention to the party's real draw: firing a Taser across the living room.

Bevirt stood about 8 feet from a cardboard rectangle, aimed the metallic pink Taser C2's laser guide at the outline of a male shape, then squeezed the trigger.

There was a pop, and flashes of electricity danced across the target.

"I got him where I wanted: right in the jugular," Bevirt said. Then she winced a bit. "I'd feel so bad doing that to someone - unless he was trying to kill me."

Until last year, Bevirt and her friends would have fallen far outside Taser International's customer base, which has historically been law enforcement. That changed when the company introduced the C2, a model intended for civilian use.

Its release has launched a new trend: get-togethers in the spirit of Tupperware parties but where women sell women Tasers.

At Bevirt's house, dealer Melissa Norris led the demonstration.

Norris has a long list of selling points for the C2: It's portable. It doesn't require the precision necessary to shoot a gun and it doesn't require a concealed-weapons permit.

The main difference between the C2 and law enforcement Tasers is C2's 30-second shock. Most law enforcement models shock for only five seconds. The reason, Norris said, is that officers want to subdue a suspect. A civilian wants to incapacitate an attacker and gain time to run.

After the Taser demonstration, the women at Bevirt's party pepper her with questions:

Is it legal? Yes, in Florida. And you can't take it to a school, federal building or on an airplane.

If you miss, can you fire again? No, the cartridges fire only once.

The women seemed impressed by Norris' presentation.

Barbie Smith, came to the party knowing next to nothing about Tasers. She had been considering buying a gun to feel safer when her fiance was out of town but said that guns scared her. Now, she said, she might prefer a Taser.