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Stun Gun Laws by State: A Comprehensive Guide for 2021

Stun Gun Laws by State: A Comprehensive Guide for 2021

Posted by Ulrich Faircloth on 16th Sep 2021

Stun Gun Laws by State: A Comprehensive Guide for 2021

Laws on stun guns and TASER devices are constantly changing. Here is an up-to-date, comprehensive guide and historical record of how these changes have been playing out across the United States.*

*The information laid out within is solely for educational purposes and is not meant to be construed as legal advice. Check with an attorney if you need legal counsel.

Stun guns and TASER devices, commonly known as electroshock weapons or electronic control devices (ECDs), are excellent self-defense tools. Although stun guns and TASERs have important differences, they serve the same function: to shock, dismay and neutralize human attackers and wild animals. These pain compliance tools have been widely used by both law enforcement and civilians since the rise of the TASER in the 1990s. Restrictions on civilian use have been stringent since that time, particularly in several key states, but the 2nd Amendment has been referenced to great effect in tackling draconian stun gun laws.

Two important Supreme Court Cases

The landmark decision of District of Columbia vs. Heller set a critical precedent for all self-defense cases to follow. Dick Anthony Heller, a D.C. special officer, applied for a one-year firearm license for a handgun he intended to keep in his home and was denied. Dick sued the District of Columbia. The U.S. Court of Appeals decided that Heller’s 2nd Amendment right was indeed violated. They ruled that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep a firearm in their personal dwelling for the purpose of self-defense and claimed that the District of Columbia’s requirement that it be non-functional violated that right.

The landmark case of Massachusetts vs. Caetano in 2016 was responsible for the overturning of several stun gun bans nationwide. A woman by the name of Jamie Caetano was convicted of illegal possession of a stun gun by the State of Massachusetts, which she held for protection against her abusive ex-boyfriend. The Supreme Court unanimously vacated the case, with reference to District of Columbia vs. Heller, stating that Massachusetts’ outright ban on electroshock weapons violated a person’s right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment.


Legal Timeline of Stun Gun Repeals

2021:

  • Hawaii passes House Bill 891, overturning their state stun gun ban. New law becomes effective as of January 1st, 2022. Until then, stun guns and TASERs are still illegal.

  • Lawmakers in Michigan are still attempting to make regular stun guns legal.

  • New York is in the process of attempting to pass a bill to regulate stun guns.

  • Rhode Island has a pending federal court case with an intention of overturning the ban.

  • Bans remain in effect in Delaware within the scope of the City of Wilmington, New Castle County and some smaller towns.

    2019:

    • New York strikes down their stun gun ban as unconstitutional and in violation of the 2nd Amendment.

    • The Illinois Supreme Court overturns the State’s categorical ban on stun devices.

    2018:

    • Per Ramirez vs. Commonwealth, Massachusetts effectively strikes down their absolute ban on electroshock weapons and institutes restrictions instead: purchase requires a MA Firearm Identification Card (FID), MA ID and MA Basic Firearms Safety Course Certificate.


    2017:

    • By order of consent, New Jersey repeals its ban on stun guns.
    • The cities of Annapolis, MD; Baltimore, MD; New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia, PA and Tacoma, WA legalize stun guns.
    • Howard County, MD removes its ban.


    2016:

    • Per Ramirez vs. Commonwealth, Massachusetts effectively strikes down their absolute ban on electroshock weapons and institutes restrictions instead: purchase requires a MA Firearm Identification Card (FID), Massachusetts ID and MA Basic Firearms Safety Course Certificate.

    • The District of Columbia overrides their stun gun ban and begins to regulate them instead via the Stun Gun Regulation Emergency Amendment Act.

    • The U.S. Virgin Islands eliminates their stun gun ban.

    • Baltimore County, MD deems their ban unconstitutional.

    2014:

    • Overland Park, KS stun gun ban is overruled.

    • Harford County, MD uplifts its ban.

    2013:

    • Anne Arundel County, MD overturns its ban.


    2012:

    • Per People vs. Yanna, Michigan lifts their ban on electroshock weapons. Only branded TASER devices become legal, with the requirement of a CCW permit; regular stun guns remain illegal in Michigan.2011:


      2011:

      Wisconsin ends ban on stun guns; regulates with requirement of CCW permit.


      Stun Gun & TASER Laws By State

      StateLegal for Security Guard UseLegal for Consumer Use/PossessionPermit Required for Consumers to PossessBackground Check RequiredOther Restrictions on Sale*
      AlabamaYesYesNoNoNo
      AlaskaYesYesNoNoNo
      ArizonaYesYesNoNoYes (verify possession of valid gov’t ID)
      ArkansasYesYesNoNoYes (no sales under 19)
      CaliforniaYesYesNoNoYes (no sales under 19 and no felony convictions)
      ColoradoYesYesNoNoNo
      ConnecticutNoYes (in home only)NoNoNo
      DelawareYesYes (permit required for concealed carry)NoNoNo
      District of ColumbiaYesYesNoNoNo
      FloridaYesYesNoNoNo
      GeorgiaYesYesNoNoNo
      HawaiiNoYes*N/AN/A*Legal on Jan 1, 2022
      IdahoYesYesNoNoNo
      IllinoisYes (with FOID)Yes (with FOID + on premises, business, or by invitation)YesYes (for TASERs)Yes (must only sell to FOID holder + waiting period)
      IndianaYesYesNoNoNo
      IowaYes (with professional permit)YesYesNoNo
      KansasYesYesNoNoNo
      KentuckyYesYesNoNoNo
      LouisianaYesYesNoNoNo
      MaineYesYesNoNoNo
      MarylandYesYesNoYes (for TASERs)No
      MassachusettsYesYes (with resident firearm license)YesNoYes (submit a copy of resident firearms license, Massachusetts ID, and MA Basic Firearms Safety Course certificate)
      MichiganYesYesYesNoYes (verify identity and possession of CCW)
      MinnesotaYesYesNoYes (for TASERs)Yes (no sales under 19)
      MississippiYesYesYesNoNo
      MissouriYesYesNoNoNo
      MontanaYesYesNoNoNo
      NebraskaYesYesNoNoNo
      NevadaYesYesNoNoNo
      New HampshireYesYesNoNoNo
      New JerseyYes (as of Oct. 2017)Yes (as of Oct. 2017)NoNoNo
      New MexicoYesYes (permit required for concealed carry unless on own premises or in personal vehicle)NoNoNo
      New YorkYes (as of April 2019)Yes (as of April 2019)NoNoThere may be other county/local laws regulating civilian CEW possession within the State of New York. It is the sole responsibility of the individual possessing the CEW to research and comply with laws.
      North CarolinaYes (no concealed carry outside of own premises)Yes (no concealed carry outside of own premises)NoNoNo
      North DakotaYesYesNo (permit not required to conceal carry StrikeLight but required for all other CEWs)NoNo
      OhioYesYesNoNoNo
      OklahomaYesYesNoNoNo
      OregonYesYesNoNoNo
      PennsylvaniaYesYesNoNoNo
      Puerto RicoYesYesYesNoYes. Please note there is a minimum order requirement for shipment.
      Rhode IslandNoNoN/AN/AN/A
      South CarolinaYesYesNoNoNo
      South DakotaYesYesNoNoNo
      TennesseeYes (permit requiredYesNoNoNo
      TexasYesYesNoNoNo
      UtahYesYesNoNoNo
      VermontYesYesNoNoNo
      VirginiaYesYesNoNoNo
      WashingtonYesYesNoNoNo
      West VirginiaYes (permit required for concealed carry unless on own premises)Yes (permit required for concealed carry unless on own premises)NoNoNo
      WisconsinYes (with CCW License)Yes (with CCW License or in own home/business)YesNoYes (verify possession of CCW or that use is restricted to home/business)
      WyomingYesYesNoNoNo



      Frequently Asked Questions:

      What are the stun gun laws per state?


      See above chart. As of 2021, stun guns are prohibited statewide only in the State of Rhode Island and in various localities within Delaware. Hawaii will officially legalize on January 1, 2022. 

      Who cannot possess a stun gun?

      Although the laws vary from state to state, generally:

      • Minors, anyone under the age of 18
      • Convicted felons
      • Persons with prior convictions of assault or misuse of a weapon
      • Persons convicted of drug crimes
      • Persons with mental illness or those who are found to be a danger to self or others
      • Persons subjected to an active court order for harassing, stalking, threatening, etc.

      Where are stun guns prohibited?

      Stun guns and TASERs, like most weapons, are typically not allowed in government buildings, such as courthouses, prisons, administrative facilities, etc. They are also not allowed in public schools, airports (no open carry; checked luggage only) and other restricted areas.

      Can I travel with a stun gun or TASER?

      Travel by Air
      – When traveling on a plane, your electroshock weapon should be stored in checked luggage, just as you would do for pepper spray/mace. Placing your device in carry-ons or on your person will likely lead to confiscation and possible prosecution by airport authorities, so be wary of that. If you are heading out of the country, make sure that your stun gun is legal where you are going.

      Travel by Land – The laws will change as you move from state to state in the U.S. Being mindful of the regulations of the state you are traveling to is important. In Wisconsin, for example, you are allowed to carry your electroshock weapon without a CCW so long as you carry it in a concealed within a carrying case; no open carry unless you have a CCW permit that is honored by the state. If you are crossing the border into another country you must be especially careful. Canada, for example, bans all weapons. Attempting to carry your stun gun or TASER across the Canadian border will get your weapon confiscated at best, or get you in big legal trouble at worst.

      Travel by Sea – Stun guns and TASER devices are considered crime control weapons by the United States. Export outside the U.S. must be approved by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

      Can I conceal carry my TASER?

      It depends, as the law can be vague or grey in some locations. Although the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) does not consider TASER devices to be firearms, several states are regulating them under that legal framework. There are several states that require a permit for conceal carry, particularly those that have licensing requirements for possession.