Stun Gun Laws by State: The Legal Guide for 2022

There are many ways that people prepare themselves for self-defense. Law enforcement might have the ability to carry a stun gun, have a concealed carry weapon on their person when they are not in uniform, or use force when on duty in the United States. 

However, there are different restrictions for dangerous weapons of any kind, depending on your state. There are also state laws and local ordinances that might require a license or have a permit required in the event you want to use something like a taser device or a stun gun that issues an electrical charge for personal protection. The reason for this is that some of these dangerous weapons can cause serious injury, and it is up to each state government to decide how it wants to regulate the ownership and carrying of these items.

Almost all states define taser stun guns as devices powered by an electrical charging unit, and that emit an electrical charge or are otherwise capable of incapacitating someone with an electrical charge.

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Are stun guns legal in all 50 states?

No. Stun guns are legal in most states, however, it is not legal in Hawaii or Rhode Island. Different U.S. codes regulate the possession of firearms and dangerous weapons, which include those that rely on conducted energy like stun guns or tasers. Almost all states have state codes designating stun guns as dangerous weapons, like Alabama Code 13A-1-2, which, like most other state codes, states something like: “‘Defensive weapon’ means an electric stun gun, or a device to dispense mace or a similar chemical agent that is not designed to cause death or serious physical injury.”

Are stun guns legal for a regular person?

There are many situations where the rules are different, depending on your circumstances.

For example, The state of California will not issue a concealed carry permit for a regular gun in the state of California to just anyone because they want the freedom to carry it around. In California the rules say you need to have a good reason. People who work as police officers might need to protect themselves from criminals seeking retribution even when they are not on duty. Volunteers who work as treasurers for an organization or religion and regularly carry cash might need it for protection. Military personnel and their families might need a concealed carry permit because of the inherent risks associated with deployments.

However, stun guns and tasers are not firearms, which means they are not subject to the same laws.

They are however subject to the laws pertaining to dangerous weapons. There are specific situations that are outlined based on each state.

For example, Arizona code 13-1213 states that no laser pointer, taser, or similar device can be pointed at a peace officer. California states it is a criminal offense to use a stun gun or taser on a peace officer. Cal. Penal § 244.5. states: 

Every person who commits an assault upon the person of a peace officer or firefighter with a stun gun or less lethal weapon, as defined in Section 16780, who knows or reasonably should know that the person is a peace officer or firefighter engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the peace officer or firefighter is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two, three, or four years (c).

Are tasers legal?

Tasers or taser stun guns are legal, depending on your circumstances and where you are.

What are the laws regarding stun gun use?

State laws dictate that stun guns or taser devices are legal for civilian self-defense in 48 of the 50 states as long as:

  1.  you only use it for self-defense purposes
  2.  you do not have a felony record
  3.  you are not a minor under the age of 18

Do I need a permit?

In most states, you do not need a permit for a stun gun. To own a stun gun, you need a permit in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. 

Minors and stun gun laws

Absolutely no states allow the ownership of stun guns or tasers by anyone who is underage, and it is illegal to sell, lease, give, rent, barter, or otherwise provide a taser stun gun to anyone who is under the age of 18.


It is similarly unlawful for any person to possess a dangerous weapon in specific locations like hospitals and schools. Multiple states criminalize possession of a dangerous weapon like a stun gun or taser if you are in a school such as Idaho Code Ann. § 18-3302D. In Michigan, it is illegal to carry a concealed stun gun not only at a school but also at a private Day Care Center; sports arena; or stadium, bar or tavern; religious facility; entertainment facility; hospital; or dormitory. Laws like these are quite common across multiple states. 

Also read:How Long After a Hit and Run Accident Can You Be Charged?

A hit and run is where a driver is involved in a collision accident and leaves the scene without offering help or contact information....

Assault and stun guns

Almost all states criminalize the use of stun guns for assault or situations other than self-defense. This means that if you own a stun gun or a taser, you cannot use it to physically harm someone else in anger or for no reason. You can only use it for self-defense, and if you use it in any other capacity, you will face criminal charges.

For example, in California, Cal. Penal § 244.5. states: 

Every person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a stun gun or less lethal weapon, as defined in Section 16780, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a term not exceeding one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months, two, or three years.

What are laws for police and peace officers?

There are many states that allow police officers or peace officers, or other professionals to carry tasers or stun guns. However, they also require regular training and certification to ensure they know how to use it and in which circumstances.

In the state of Georgia, peace officers who are legally allowed to carry Tasers and other stun guns must undergo stringent training and receive certification that they qualify to carry and use such a weapon according to Ga. Code Ann. § 35-8-26. TASER and electronic control weapons.

What states are stun guns illegal?

The illegality of taser stun guns varies depending on what your age is, what state you are in, whether or not you have a permit, and where you possess the taser stun gun in question. The chart below explains in which situations it’s legal, any mitigating circumstances, and whether you need a permit.

StateIs it legal to have a stun gun or taser?Do I need a permit to own a stun gun or taser?
District of ColumbiaYesNo
IndianaYes for stun gun**No
MichiganYes, with a concealed carry permitYes
New HampshireYesNo
New JerseyYesNo
New MexicoYesNo
New YorkYesNo
North CarolinaYes***No
North DakotaYesNo
Rhode IslandNoN/A
South CarolinaYesNo
South DakotaYesNo
West VirginiaYesNo
WisconsinYes with CCW license****Yes

*A FOID card is a card given to someone who is 21 or older, or to someone with their parent sponsorship. The owner must apply for the card, which is a firearm owner’s identification card, which you must have to make a purchase. 

**A stun gun is legal to have but if you have a taser, you must have a handgun license issued by the state. 

***In this state it is legal to own a stun gun or a taser, but you do not have the option of a concealed carry outside of your home, which means you cannot take it outside of your house.

****You must apply for a concealed carry license, which has to be renewed every five years. 

Is it legal to carry around a stun gun?

Carrying a stun gun is similar to carrying a gun in that it is a special law. There are different laws for owning stun guns and for carrying them around in public where you could use them to hurt people. 

The laws pertaining to the legality of carrying a stun gun or taser, or putting it in your car is based on each state. Almost all states allow civilians to have and carry a stun gun or a taser for personal protection. However, some states and local areas have different regulations that may or may not necessitate a permit.

When it comes to travel, this greatly depends on where you are going and your method of transportation.

For example,  if you are traveling by car in your state, you may bring your taser or stun gun with you, and you can have it in your hotel just the same as you would have it in your home because your hotel serves as your home during the course of your trip. 

If you are flying, the TSA says you can keep self-defense sprays and stun guns in your checked baggage, but you cannot have them in your carry-on. If you are going from one state to another, you just have to make sure that state isn’t one of the few that requires a permit to carry your stun gun or taser and if it is, make sure you get a permit ahead of time. 


Overall, most states are very lenient when it comes to ownership of a Taser stun gun. In almost every state it’s perfectly legal to own one for the purposes of self-defense as a civilian. There are some specifications that prohibit use outside the home or prohibit you from pointing it at a peace officer or other specific personnel. Obviously, these are not for use for any situation other than personal defense, and there can be criminal charges associated with those people who violate any of these stun gun laws.

Article by Megan Thompson

Megan Thompson is a legal writer at Lawrina. Megan writes about different law practice areas, legal innovations, and shares her knowledge about her legal practice. As a graduate of the American University's Washington College of Law she is an expert of law in Lawrina's team and has a slight editing touch to all content that is published on the website.

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