Taser says SEC closes two investigations of stun gun maker | VailDaily.com

Taser says SEC closes two investigations of stun gun maker

PHOENIX – The Securities and Exchange Commission has recommended no enforcement action be taken against stun gun maker Taser International Inc. for safety claims it made about its weapons and an accounting issue it was investigating, the company said Tuesday.The news helped send the company’s shares up 15 percent in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, reversing only in part what has been a deep slide in Taser’s stock this year.The SEC first launched an inquiry in January about claims Scottsdale-based Taser made about safety studies and a $1.5 million, end-of-year sale of stun guns to a firearms distributor in Prescott, Ariz. Some stock analysts questioned the deal because it appeared to inflate sales to meet annual projections.In September, the SEC announced it was formally investigating the company on those issues and had expanded the scope of the investigation to examine whether outsiders had acquired internal company information to manipulate stock price.Taser said the SEC is continuing to investigate the issues relating to trading in the company’s stock.”We have continuously stated that we stand behind our accounting and our statements on medical safety,” said Taser President Tom Smith. He added that the company will “continue to fully cooperate with the remaining item” under investigation.A Taser shoots two barbed darts attached to wires that deliver 50,000-volts for several seconds. The electrical current overwhelms the nervous system, temporarily immobilizing an individual.Analyst John Gavin, author of the SEC Insight newsletter, said the end of the agency’s investigation into Taser’s safety claims shouldn’t be interpreted as the government giving its blessing to the safety of the weapons. And the ongoing trading investigation means the “company is not out of the woods,” he said.But analyst Joe Blankenship of Source Capital Group in Scottsdale, Ariz., said the SEC decision should help Taser rebut some of the safety concerns about its stun guns. Still, he said the company, which has plenty of cash on hand and faces no financial threats in the near future, must rebuild trust among potential customersSEC spokesman John Nester declined to comment on the investigation.Taser began marketing stun guns to police in 1998 as a way to subdue combative people in high-risk situations. Now, more than 8,000 law enforcement agencies and military installations use them worldwide.But critics say the stun guns have been used too liberally by police and have contributed to scores of deaths. Amnesty International has compiled a list of more than 100 people the group says have died after being shocked in scuffles with lawmen.The company has consistently denied its products are to blame for the deaths, contending that no deaths have been directly linked to its product. The company also contends Tasers have saved the lives of thousands of suspects who might otherwise have been fatally shot by police.Taser shares rose 92 cents, or 15 percent, to close at $7.04 on the Nasdaq. But the company’s stock has taken a beating in the past year, falling from a 52-week high of $33.45.Vail, Colorado

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