They are called Taser parties — and the fact they are getting a lot of attention lately is anything but shocking.
“I think it's because I’ve mixed a very commonplace event, like a Tupperware party, with an extremely controversial product like a Taser C2,” said Dana Shafman, an entrepreneur from Phoenix.
Shafman told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira that while gathering women to look over a pink or leopard-spotted stun gun may seem like a bizarre social gathering, there is actually a seriousness behind it all.
“I think the other thing that we can’t lose sight of is the fact that we’re putting these on the street in an effort to protect women and individuals — not to keep the peace,” Shafman said.
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“So I think it’s a more humane way to defend yourself versus choosing a knife or a gun or even a club of some format.”
Shafman, 34, is helping to market the Taser International’s C2 “personal protector” with her “ShieldHer Taser Parties,” though she is not an employee of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company.
In a report filed by TODAY’s Jenna Wolfe, Shafman acknowledged it has been an “upward battle” trying to sell the Taser C2 because “most people have never seen one, they’ve never touched one and they don’t know anything about it.”
But Shafman has sold more than 100, at a price of $349.99 each, since her first Taser party on Oct. 15. She does not get a commission, but does receive a discounted dealer rate from Taser International and keeps the difference on the units she sells.
Tasers are illegal in seven states — New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Michigan, Wisconsin and Hawaii — and in Washington, D.C.
But a reported 12,500 police agencies in the U.S. are either using or testing the weapons.
The usage of stun guns has come under fire by Amnesty International.
But Shafman still wants to spread the word. And at her Taser parties, she insists that no alcohol is present.
“I certainly don’t want to be preaching anything with regard to making this a game or fun,” she said. “It is serious and it’s about personal protection.”
There is an element of fun, with some Tasers sold twinned with MP3 players — “for those people who do like to hike or do like to run or to walk by themselves,” she says — and multiple colors, like the popular pink.
“You know, I think like anything else, just as guns come in camouflage and different colors and whatnot, I don’t know that it diminishes the seriousness of the product,” Shafman said.
“But I think regardless, it does make it a little more attractive for people to own. And as far as we’re concerned, [we] obviously position it as a personal safety device and it could possibly save your life or at least prevent you from getting raped or attacked.”
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