Magazine article The New Yorker

HAVE GUN; Girl Stuff

Magazine article The New Yorker

HAVE GUN; Girl Stuff

Article excerpt

Dana Shafman was at home in Arizona, preparing to visit her cousin Robin Beitman, in Fairfield, Connecticut, when she experienced an anxious moment. Shafman--a dealer in Taser stun guns--was packing up her wares to send ahead, when it hit her that she had put her last gun in the box. "I realized that I couldn't be at home without a Taser," she said. "It becomes something similar to your cell phone. If I leave the house without it, I go into panic mode. It's that safety blanket."

Shafman, who is thirty-four, is the inventor of the Taser party--it's like a Tupperware party, but the women get together to pick out Tasers rather than plastic storage containers. Last week, she hosted her first out-of-state party, at her cousin's in Connecticut. "It's about educating the customer," Shafman explained, as she arranged three Taser C2s--pink, blue, and silver--on a pine coffee table in Beitman's living room, along with coordinating leopard-print pouches. The new model, introduced last year, is, at around three hundred dollars, cheaper than the one wielded by cops, and is about the size and weight of an electric razor--the Virginia Slims of stun guns. "I want people to get comfortable with the product," Shafman said. "I want people to play with them, if they so desire." Behind her, Beitman was putting out snacks: hummus, cookies, grapes, and pink lemonade. (Shafman has a no-alcohol rule where Tasers are involved.) "I'll be honest, when I first heard about this I was torn," Beitman said. "But I actually shot one on Friday, and now I wouldn't hesitate to buy one."

The guests arrived: three young women, all from New York, all in jeans and high heels. (Connecticut is the only state in the tristate area where it's legal to own a Taser.) "Before we start, I want to ask you guys how you're currently protecting yourself," Shafman said. The women were quiet. "I'm embarrassed to say I use my cell phone," one said. "I used to have pepper spray, but it would spray in my bag." Sarah Kreisman, a lawyer, said that she had once taken a self-defense class where she was trained to poke an attacker in the groin and the eyeballs. "Very good," Shafman said. She explained that she has never been attacked, but, then, she has always been vigilant; she kept a baseball bat by her bed in college. "I graduated a couple of years ago to a barbecue knife under my pillow," she said. (Stalkerish ex-boyfriend.)

The women discussed what-if scenarios and rape statistics, and then, one at a time, selected a C2 from the table. …

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