Wed, Nov 28, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Taser parties lure young and old as security risk rises


The lemonade is homemade, the canapes piled high and the 50,000-volt stun-gun available in four designer colors. Welcome to the Taser party -- "having the girls round," Arizona-style. Modeled on the innocent Tupperware party, it's a chance to meet, gossip and try out weaponry illegal in seven US states.

Ever since political pundits identified the "security mom" -- the homemaker concerned about safety, local and national -- a new market for self-defense has opened up.

Quick to cash in on these fears is Taser International, which launched its C2 model in the summer. Sold for US$299, it's the size of an iPhone and available in black pearl, titanium silver, electric blue and -- the party bestseller -- metallic pink.

Working alone as an estate agent in the US' third most dangerous state, Caily Scheur wanted to protect herself; she didn't want a gun, afraid the weapon would be used against her. Then she discovered the C2.

"It's for a serious purpose, but it's fashionable as well," she said.

She began hosting parties a month ago after interested neighbors approached her at her son's little league games.

The parties are attended by everyone from young professionals to pensioners, eager to learn more about self-protection and to try the Taser on a cardboard cutout. For obvious reasons, alcohol -- the traditional fuel of Tupperware parties -- is banned.

The events are currently held only in Arizona, but growing interest means that Taser parties will come to six more states by March and the other 36 that allow the devices by the end of next year.

But it will take more than a woman's touch to improve the Taser's image. In September a student who heckled John Kerry was stunned by police in an incident that spawned T-shirts and parodies (catchphrase "Don't Tase me, bro").

Although Scheur insists Tasers aren't fatal -- merely packing "one heck of a wallop" -- Amnesty International says 200 people have died in the US since 2001 after being "Tased."

While Taser International diversifies at home, the British police have placed another order -- although they remain illegal for civilians, meaning Taser parties won't be coming to a street near you.

Or perhaps it's just a matter of time; it took nine years for Tupperware parties to cross the Atlantic.

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