By GEORGE NAVA TRUE II / Content Editor
You’ve probably seen it in action in some Hollywood movies. When policemen want to subdue fleeing or potentially dangerous individuals, they rely on a Taser. This non-lethal weapon fires two dart-like electrodes that stick to clothes and deliver an electric shock strong enough to paralyze a person. It allows the police to subdue suspects without harming them.
The genius behind this invention is John “Jack” Higson Cover Jr., a nuclear physicist and NASA researcher. Cover was born in New York City and was a test pilot during World War II. He began work on the Taser in 1969 and completed it in 1974 when he was 54 years old. He named the weapon after reading a book about his childhood hero Tom Swift.
Swift is the main character of a series of juvenile science fiction novels that were first published in 1910. The book that inspired Cover was “Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle.” In that adventure, Swift travels to Africa to rescue friends who are captured by members of a fearsome tribe. Along the way, Swift uses his invention that looks like a contemporary rifle to stop a whale, elephants, and rhinoceroses.
Swift’s electric rifle fires bolts of electricity that can penetrate walls and illuminate the dark continent. Taking this cue, Cover came up with the weapon and formed Taser Systems Inc. in 1970. As you might have guessed, Taser is short for Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle.
Initially, the Taser was not popular with law enforcement personnel since it used gunpowder to launch the darts. That changed in 1993 when brothers Rick and Thomas Smith came up with a safer design while working with Cover. The modern Taser was developed in response to the death of two high school friends of Taser International CEO Patrick Smith. Smith said the two were shot dead by a licensed gun owner who lost his temper.
This led authorities to consider using non-lethal means to subdue persons of interest. With the Taser, this became possible. It also allowed police to keep a safe distance away from suspects.
To protect the elderly from bad elements, one company created a Taser-like cane that zaps attackers with a million volts of electricity. This device is intended to protect old people while they are strolling. It is disguised as a cane and can support a 250-pound person. The cane has a flashlight and should be charged for six hours initially to work.
To date, Taser International (now called Axon) said its invention has saved over 200,000 lives. The Canadian Police Research Centre added that the use of Tasers has resulted in fewer injuries than the use of batons or empty hand techniques. Thanks to the pioneering work of Cover, catching criminals has never been easier.
For more information, visit https://global.axon.com/.