Revealed: Stun guns for sale on the streets
Rashid Razaq and Nicola Dowling
ILLEGAL: The Black Cobra stun gun can discharge 500,000 volts.THE Manchester Evening News has bought an illegal stun gun in the street for £250.
It is believed to be one of several hundred of the high powered electrical weapons being traded on the black market.
The dealer told our reporter he could get as many of the guns as he wanted. He also offered to sell illegal pepper spray.
The gun - capable of discharging up to 500,000 volts - and all our information have been handed to the police.
The undercover deal was set up in south Manchester after the reporter arranged a meeting with a man offering to sell
the "Black Cobra" devices. Our reporter was told to wait in his car near the Big Western Pub in Great Western Street, Moss Side.
The underworld trader, heavily disguised and with his face covered, handed over the gun.
It is feared the weapons, marketed as a self defence tool in America, could be used in crime, resulting in people getting hurt or killed.
Amnesty International claims that more than 130 people have been killed by stun guns in America and Canada.
To sell or own one in Britain is an offence under Section Five of the Firearms Act 1968. Yet in July a teenager was robbed by a gang who threatened him in Sale with what appeared to be a stun gun.
The M.E.N reporter gets his gunThe previous month robbers forced their way into a man's home in Oldham armed with a knife and what looked like a stun gun. In both cases the weapons were not used on the victims.
Today Det Chief Supt Dave Jones of Greater Manchester Police said: "We are actively seeking to prevent these kind of things from falling into the hands of people who have no legitimate reason for owning them. It is against the law to own or sell them. We will investigate the information passed to us by the Manchester Evening News."
According to the brief instructions inside the black nylon holster, the stun gun can discharge up to 500,000 volts.
This is much stronger than those used by specially trained police firearms officers which give a 50,000 volt shock.
Police use of stun guns is strictly regulated to ensure officers fire them only when they have no other choice in extreme and dangerous situations.
The instruction leaflet boasts the stun gun "neutralizes" or "immobilises" an attacker by emitting an electrical charge when two metal probes are pressed against their body. A half-second contact will neutralize and stun the victim, causing pain and muscle contraction. One to two seconds will cause muscle spasms and a dazed state. Over three seconds will cause loss of balance and muscle control, mental confusion and disorientation.
Police use what is known as a Taser stun gun which sends probes on a wire into the skin of the victim from a short distance. A short burst of electricity then follows.
Greater Manchester Police has been using them since the beginning of the year. Senior officers say they are convinced they are safe and cause no long-term damage.
Amnesty International disagrees and wants more independent medical tests.
Greater Manchester's Chief Constable Michael Todd volunteered to be shot by one of the police stun guns to prove his faith in their use. He believes they should be made more widely available to other police officers.
Merseyside's Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe believes all patrol officers should have them