At a home in South Charlotte, a small group of women learned the ins and outs of personal Tasers from the wife of a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer, Heidi Hazrati. She sells the self defense weapons for a company called Shieldher, Inc. and hosts Taser parties. "If someone buys a Taser, that's great, but if they walk out of here and can keep themselves safe, that's even better,” says Hazrati.
Hazrati doesn't allow drinking at the parties until after the Taser demonstration and the only target is a metal board. She says over the past year and half, interest in the Tasers has been steady. "I have seen more people feel threatened when crime is worse because unemployment rises,” she says.
South Charlotte resident Anne Steppe says she plans on buying one of the devices despite the $350 price tag. Steppe says, "Definitely can't put a cost if I were to leave my husband raising our son by himself and my son without a mom."
A Taser sends 50,000 volts through an attacker's body. To put that in perspective, an emergency defibrillator is 800 times stronger. Hazrati's tried the Taser before, and says “It was the worst pain of my entire life." Even still, she doesn't worry about the effect it might have on an attacker. "It's my safety, if you're doing something that's not right, sorry if something happens as a result of it,” says Hazrati.
Even if you miss your target with the cartridge, the Taser still has an electric current running through it and acts like a stun gun. Steppe says, "I don't think women should be afraid to use things like this and have them. I think you should be afraid not to have one for what could happen to you if you don't have one."
Many women carry Tasers in their purses. Experts say 80% of attacks can be prevented just by showing the device and telling the attacker you will use it.
Tasers are legal in North and South Carolina, but six states and D.C. don't allow them. You don't have to get any special training or certification for a Taser, but you do have to pass a background check.