Stun Gun Laws by State: The Legal Guide for 2023
From the stun guns of law enforcement to the concealed carry weapons of civilians, self-defense comes in many shapes and sizes. But when using force, the rules are different for those sworn to protect and serve. Learn more about the various options available for self-defense and the unique considerations for law enforcement.
However, depending on your state, dangerous weapons have different restrictions. There are also state laws and local ordinances that might require a license or 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 to regulate the ownership and carrying of these items.
Almost all states define taser stun guns as devices powered by an electrical charging unit that emits an electrical charge or are otherwise capable of incapacitating someone with an electrical charge.
Are Stun Guns Legal in all 50 States?
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.” Stun guns are legal in most states. However, it is not legal in Hawaii or Rhode Island.
Are Stun Guns Legal for a Regular Person?
There are many situations where the rules are different, depending on your circumstances.
For example, California will not issue a concealed carry permit for a regular gun. 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 deployment risks.
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 about 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 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:
- You only use it for self-defense purposes;
- You do not have a felony record;
- You are not a minor under the age of 18.
Do I Need a Permit to Carry Stun Gun?
In most states, you do not need a permit for a stun gun. To own a stun gun, you need a license in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.
Can Minors Have Stun Guns?
Absolutely no states allow the ownership of stun guns or tasers by anyone underage, and it is illegal to sell, lease, give, rent, barter, or otherwise provide a Taser stun gun to anyone under the age of 18.
It is similarly unlawful for anyone to possess a dangerous weapon in specific locations like hospitals and schools.
Multiple states criminalize possessing 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
- Private Day Care Center;
- Sports arena;
- Bar or tavern;
- Religious facility;
- Entertainment facility;
Laws like these are pretty common across multiple states.
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 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 harm someone else in anger or for no reason. You can only use it for self-defense; 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 the Laws for Police and Peace Officers?
Many states allow police officers, 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 rigorous training and receive certification that they qualify to have and use such a weapon, according to Ga. Code Ann. § 35-8-26. TASER and electronic control weapons.
Where are Stun Guns Illegal?
The illegality of taser stun guns varies depending on your age, the 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.
|State||Is it legal to have a stun gun or Taser?||Do I need a permit to own a stun gun or Taser?|
|District of Columbia||Yes||No|
|Indiana||Yes, for stun gun**||No|
|Michigan||Yes, with a concealed carry permit||Yes|
|Wisconsin||Yes, with CCW license****||Yes|
*A FOID card, or firearm owner’s identification card, is issued to individuals 21 or older or to individuals who have the sponsorship of a parent. The owner must apply for the card and possess it to purchase a firearm.
***A stun gun is legal; you must have a state-issued handgun license if you have a Taser.
***In this state, owning a stun gun or a Taser is legal, but you cannot carry it outside your home because concealed carry is not allowed.
****You must apply for a concealed carry license, which has to be renewed every five years.
Is It Legal to Carry around Stun Gun?
Carrying a stun gun is similar to having a gun because it is a special law. There are different laws for owning stun guns and moving them around in public where you could use them to hurt people.
The law’s tonality of carrying a stun gun or Taser or putting it in your car is based on your location. 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 in your home because your hotel serves as your home during 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 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 self-defense as a civilian. Some specifications prohibit use outside the home or you from pointing it at a peace officer or other personnel. These are not for use in any situation other than personal defense, and there can be criminal charges associated with those who violate any of these stun gun laws.