Self-defense Tasers and stun guns surge in popularity across NYC

Manhattan developer Daniel Neiditch has equipped 15 of his employees with New York City’s latest must-have accessory: stun guns and Tasers.

“Crime is out of control in the city and everyone’s scared,” Neiditch told the Post. “It’s gotten so bad since the pandemic. I’ve watched apartments and stores being broken into and people afraid to ride the subway. I wanted to be proactive and ensure the safety of my employees.”

Neiditch, owner of River 2 River Realty, has properties in the city, Westchester and the Hamptons — but he’s best known as the board president and a stakeholder at the pricey 46-story Atelier condo, which he also manages. Units cost as much as $12 million there, but its location on 42nd Street between 11th and 12th avenues in Hell’s Kitchen is only blocks from such vagrant epicenters as the Port Authority bus terminal.

Most of the workers Neiditch gifted with the defensive weapons — some of which are disguised to look like iPhones, flashlights and batons — work on site at his properties as supers, managers and security guards. And he may get more of them.

“I didn’t want them to be defenseless,” Neiditch said. “I’ve seen what’s happening in the city. The homeless have been very aggressive near our properties on the Upper West Side as well. This way my people can protect themselves without killing anyone. Stun guns are not deadly weapons. They just give you a leg up on maybe not being killed yourself.”

Manhattan developer Daniel Neiditch
Manhattan developer Daniel Neiditch
Handout

Shootings and murders skyrocketed by 97 percent and 44 percent respectively in 2020 citywide, according to NYPD data. Subways have become violent places, where the so-called “A-Train Ripper” knifed two homeless people to death, and slashed two others, in a one-day spree two weeks ago.

Neiditch said he was especially worried by reports early in the pandemic of an alarming rise in residential and commercial break-ins.

Mayor de Blasio “could have done better working together with the police to find solutions to better combat the increase in deadly crime,” Neiditch said. “He blamed the courts being closed for the uptick in gun violence and crime.”

Jay Castro, 33, often works alongside Michel Bertrand, 40, ferrying Neiditch’s international clients and prospective customers around the city.

“The cops have seen us with [the Tasers] and stopped us a few times but they always let us go when they see what they are,” Castro told the Post Saturday.

Bertrand said he feels much safer: “Crime has definitely gotten worse and you want to feel that you can protect yourself.”

Neiditch is just one of many frightened New Yorkers, and people across the country, snapping up stun guns and more sophisticated and sometimes deadly Tasers.

Stun guns, which usually cost between $35 and $55, require contact with an assailant to work, but often can deter attackers with their noise.

A close up of a Taser.
A close up of a Taser.
James Keivom / NY Post

“The crackle sound is scary as hell,” said Jennifer Lester, known as Stun Gun Jen, who sells the weapons especially designed for women as part of the California-based Damsel in Defense company. “It’s almost like a warning shot.”

Civilian Tasers — lower-powered versions of what cops use — run at least $450 and shoot spiked probes connected by wires up to 15 feet away. They emit a 50,000-volt charge that interrupts brain to muscle communication. A stun gun can cause pain but not immoblization. Both guns run on batteries.

“Everyone’s buying them” Jay Veng, manager at Jimmy’s Sport Shop in Mineola, LI, said of both weapons. “Our sales went up about 200 percent last year. Women come in to buy them and men buy them too – usually for the women in their lives.”

Jay Veng (left with stun gun) and Jimmy Gong (right, with taser) co-owners of Jimmy's Sports in Mineola.
Jay Veng (left with stun gun) and Jimmy Gong (right, with taser) co-owners of Jimmy’s Sports in Mineola.
J.C.Rice

Dan Neville’s Thugbusters in Rochester, NY, is one of the few places in the state that ships stun guns or Tasers to customers in the five boroughs. Neiditch bought his stun guns from their website. Neville said sales are up 500 percent in the last year — and 95 percent of those stun guns are for women. (Amazon will not mail a stun gun or Taser — or even pepper spray — to NYC addresses.)

Stun gun sales increased by 300 percent last year, said a spokesman for manufacturer Axon.

“Stun guns have come up almost out of nowhere to be part of the national zeitgeist,” said Matt Angorn. “From the George Floyd protests to the attacks of Capitol Hill, we’re seeing people be a lot more concerned about their personal safety. It’s designed to be an alternative to a lethal weapon.”

(Left to right) Jason Castro, Michel Bertrand, and a woman who would only identify herself as Isabel pose with Tasers and a stun gun flashlight in the lobby of The Atelier Condo building in New York, NY on February 27, 2021.
(Left to right) Jason Castro, Michel Bertrand, and a woman who would only identify herself as Isabel pose with Tasers and a stun gun flashlight in the lobby of The Atelier Condo building in New York, NY on February 27, 2021.
James Keivom / NY Post

A federal judge ruled in March 2019 that banning stun guns was unconstitutional. Weapons experts, lawyers, even some politicians in New York believe it’s now perfectly legal to own and use one — as long as it’s in self defense. However, stun guns are still against the law under the state penal code, creating a legal gray area.

“It all comes down to the DA in your county,” said Matt Mallory, a military veteran and firearms instructor at PS & Education, who was the first civilian TASER instructor in New York. “There’s a whole lot of people who want stun guns but they don’t realize you can get an aggressive DA who might go after you for having one. It’s in limbo right now.”

Stun Gun Jen Lester said Damsel in Defense’s legal team has advised them it is legal to ship here. “It’s our belief that the case wouldn’t hold water if you were arrested for having a stun gun,” she said.

A stun gun at Jimmy's Sports in Mineola.
A stun gun at Jimmy’s Sports in Mineola.
J.C.Rice

State Sen. Brad Hoylman of Manhattan is trying to regulate stun guns with a bill currently in committee. The measure would allow possession of a stun gun only for “protection of a person or property on real estate that such person owns or leases,” and its use under justifiable circumstances. The exemption does not apply to minors or convicted felons.

“These are dangerous weapons,” Hoylman told the Post, citing the 60-year-old Arkansas man who was arrested while lounging in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the on Jan. 6 Capitol invasion, allegedly armed with a stun gun.

For now, it’s best not to bring them into state and federal buildings. Just ask Long Island private investigator Vincent Schottler, who went into the Manhattan Supreme Court building on Feb. 22 and told the court officers he had a stun gun with him.

“They looked confused and went away to call the DA’s office,” Schottler told the Post. “They came back and told me it was a felony and confiscated my gun. But they didn’t arrest me or ask anything else. I was shocked.”

Latest posts