There is no shortage of danger out there in today’s world. Whether you live in small-town America or the big bad city, crime seems like a permanent fixture in society. It’s no wonder, then, that tools of self-defense have become one of fastest-growing items on people’s shopping lists. And at the top of the list, for both everyday civilians and even cops, are stun guns.

Stun guns work by zapping an attacker with a high electrical voltage. Usually, the “gun” is more of a wand, something you wield in your hand, which has two metal prongs at the end. The charge emanates from these prongs, so you’ll want to touch the bad guy with those. Then zap! watch as the stun gun immobilizes him or her.

No worries, though, on whether or not you severely harmed the attacker. Stun guns are designed to incapacitate somebody, not to kill them, so the charge that they put out has more bark than steel bite pro bite. Stun guns have just the right amount of bark to do the trick.

They work by completely discombobulating a person’s nervous system. As you probably learned in high school biology class, the human nervous system includes our brain, spinal cord, and nerves, and it works by passing along electrical signals from the brain to all parts of our body. It’s what helps us to speak and see, and our nervous system allows us to move our muscles at will, as well as involuntarily.

The stun gun stops all that. The energy pulse causes a person’s muscles to go practically haywire, contracting at a very high movement rate. All of this muscle activity causes the muscles to put out lactic acid. Remember the last workout or jog you had, when your muscles started to burn? That was lactic acid, which makes it hard for your muscles to do anymore work.

The electricity from the stun gun also causes a “blackout” in the whole nervous system, so the messages between the brain, spinal cord, and nerves get interrupted. The total end result from the stun gun is a person who can’t move their muscles, who loses their balance and their bearing, and remains ‘out of it’ and harmless for several minutes afterward.

Of course, like anything else, the stun gun has a different effect depending on the person it is used on. Some people may go down like a sack of potatoes after only a second of touching the stun gun, while another attacker my need five seconds of exposure to the stun gun to be incapacitated. There is a direct relationship between the time a person is exposed to the stun gun, and the effects of the stun gun. In other words, the longer you hold the stun gun to someone, the more debilitated they become. Once a person is down, and you cease and desist with the weapon, the effects will eventually wear off.

Unlike other forms of electricity, the stun gun’s power cannot be passed by touching the person being hit, or by standing in a puddle with them. That is good news for you.

When buying a stun gun, you should consider its voltage and size. Of course, if you’re carrying the stun gun in a small purse, you’ll need a small stun gun. But try to buy the highest voltage stun gun possible.