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Published: Wednesday, 7/16/2008

Truck stops to offer personal Taser weapons

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
The small C2 model both shoots barbed current-producing probes and can be used as a contact stun device. The small C2 model both shoots barbed current-producing probes and can be used as a contact stun device.
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Very soon, truckers and motorists will be able to buy a jolter with their jolt of java at TravelCenters of America Inc. truck stops, 11 of which dot Ohio's roadways.

TravelCenters, based in Westlake, Ohio, said last week it had reached a deal with Taser International Inc. to begin selling Taser weapons at its truck stops starting this month.

A clerk at the TravelCenter truck stop in Stony Ridge, where I-280 connects to the Ohio Turnpike, said the gift shop there had not received any shipments of Taser stun weapons.

However, Steve Tuttle, a spokesman for Taser International, said the company began shipping the devices to TravelCenters the last week of June.

The pairing between Taser and a chain of truck stops is the first in which the defense technology company will sell its products in a retail setting other than sporting-goods stores or licensed firearms dealers.

"We were approached by them, but it fits with our vision of getting our products into more mainstream stores," Mr. Tuttle said.

"Anybody's that's traveling does have concerns about personal safety. For the trucker away from his family, he might want one or think that his wife could use that while he's gone, or his daughter at college could use one," Mr. Tuttle said. "So this was something that's a pretty good fit for us."

TravelCenters will sell the devices at its TA and Petro truck stops. Officials from TravelCenters did not return calls seeking comment.

Tasers shoot barbed probes that deliver an incapacitating electric current or can be used as contact stun devices. The C2 Taser model, designed for personal use, sells for about $300 without frills, or $350 for one with a laser sight that pinpoints where the barbs will go.

"They're nonlethal and they're really catching on," said Theresa Cleland, owner of Cleland's Outdoor World on Airport Highway.

"We only sell them with laser sights. That way, you know where it's going. Some come without lasers but I don't sell them because a miss with a Taser doesn't do you any good," she said.

Customers who buy Tasers at TravelCenters shouldn't expect to be able to use them immediately. Taser requires that buyers pass a $10 background check before giving them a code to activate the weapon.

"If it's misused, we have the ability to track that too," the company spokesman said. "It contains 20 to 30 pieces of tiny confetti that match back to that unit. It you use it, it's akin to leaving a business card that is tiny and discreet, but the police know what to look for."

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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