Self-defense laws in the United States can be pretty hectic, as you can see from our blog post on pepper spray laws in the country. Restricting pepper spray is one thing, but it is an entirely different ball-game when it comes to electroshock weapons. Stun guns and TASER electronic control devices (ECDs) are regulated much harsher than their chemical aerosol counterparts.
As a result, we have a few states that outright ban these self-defense products and others that place limitations on their use. Oddly enough, some states allow these devices to be used but certain counties or cities (like Chicago) completely prohibit them through local ordinance.
With that being said, let’s go over the top 5 states with the worst stun gun & TASER laws.
1. New York
Most states tend to base their laws on the intent of the weapon rather than their design (unless you are talking about so-called “assault weapons”). But not the nation’s top nanny state! New York is arguably the worst state in the country when it comes to self-defense laws, both for lethal and non-lethal devices. Regarding electroshock weapons, both stun guns and TASER devices are illegal throughout the state. Pepper spray is about the only thing you can rely on and even that has limitations.
More or less New York’s sister state, Massachusetts likes to run the gamut when it comes to prohibiting certain things too. Currently all electroshock weapons are banned, but the State was recently involved in a case where a woman named Jaime Caetano was being charged for illegal possession of a stun gun. Caetano vs. Massachusetts was vacated by the United States Supreme Court. Unfortunately however, the Supreme Court did not claim Massachusetts’ stun gun ban was unconstitutional; it merely stated that it rejected the Commonwealth’s arguments for upholding the ban. The good news is that this may lead to challenges in other states.
3. New Jersey
If I remember correctly, New Jersey once banned electroshock weapons for ALL people, civilians and police included! It was the only state to do so. More recently, in the past few years, however they have become lax and have allowed law enforcement to carry. Stun guns and TASERs remain illegal for civilian use. Suffice it to say, this is another rough state for anyone looking to protect themselves from crime.
UPDATE: As a result of the Massachusetts vs. Caetano case, New Jersey decided to repeal its stun gun ban!
4. Rhode Island
Rhode Island is an unusual case, but their stun gun laws do make electroshock weapons illegal for civilians. Considering that it is next-door neighbors to Massachusetts, it’s not too surprising that Rhode Island would be this restrictive. The Ocean State is prohibitive on impact weapons like expandable batons as well.
Unlike its much colder and conservative cousin, Alaska, Hawaii is fairly restrictive on self-defense products. Pepper spray is limited to in-state sales, expandable batons are banned and both stun guns and TASERs are illegal for the average Joe. Don’t expect too much “paradise” when it comes to self-defense here.
These 5 states won’t let you protect yourself with stun guns & TASERs.
And that’s the gist of it. Those are the top 5 states with the worst stun gun & TASER laws. The bad news for people who live in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Hawaii is that you will not be able to [legally] protect yourself with an electroshock weapon. The good news is that there are many states that will allow you to! Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to pack your bags.
If you want to know more about the stun gun laws for each state, check out our stun gun/TASER laws & restrictions page for more information. This also includes states that require a CCW or FOID card for purchase and possession, such as Michigan and Wisconsin or specific cities and counties that restrict their use.