When it comes to self defense tools, tasers are one of the most misunderstood. Tasers occupy a strange sort of niche between something less harmful like pepper spray, and something extremely harmful like a firearm.
Used correctly, a taser can give you a wonderful ranged option against attackers, and one that’s unlikely to cause serious lasting harm.
Tasers are legal in most states, but they’re not legal in every state. Let’s look at California: are tasers legal in California?
Yes, tasers are legal in California. Tasers can be purchased, possessed, and carried for self-defense in the state of California so long as you are not a felon or drug addict and 16 years old or older.
Compared to some of the truly heinous weapons laws in California, tasers are surprisingly straightforward to obtain and carry.
It’s even possible to carry a taser if you’re under the age of 18! But, as you might expect, California still has loads of laws that will apply to these devices and to you if you carry one. If you want to know what they are, keep reading.
Tasers are broadly categorized as “less-lethal weapons” under California law, meaning any device that is designed to expel less-lethal ammunition that will incapacitate, immobilize, or stun a person through less-than-lethal means.
Tasers, being sort of dart-firing stun guns that rely on compressed gas and a powerful but non-lethal electrical charge for this function, certainly fit the bill.
Check out both definitions in the relevant section below…
DEFINITIONS Section 16780.
(a) “Less lethal weapon” means any device that is designed to or that has been converted to expel or propel less lethal ammunition by any action, mechanism, or process for the purpose of incapacitating, immobilizing, or stunning a human being through the infliction of any less than lethal impairment of physical condition, function, or senses, including physical pain or discomfort. It is not necessary that a weapon leave any lasting or permanent incapacitation, discomfort, pain, or other injury or disability in order to qualify as a less lethal weapon.
(b) Less lethal weapon includes the frame or receiver of any weapon described in subdivision (a), but does not include any of the following unless the part or weapon has been converted as described in subdivision (a):
Yes, they are. Stun guns are a distinct device from tasers, and rely on close physical contact with the electrodes on the device to inflict a painful electrical charge.
The terms are often used interchangeably in normal conversation, but in California they have two different but overlapping legal definitions.
The definition for “stun gun” pops up in 244.5 under Title 8 Chapter 9 of the California penal code.
A stun gun is defined as any item, except a less lethal weapon, that’s used or intended in an offensive or defensive capacity capable of temporarily immobilizing a person by the infliction of an electrical charge.
See the relevant section below…
Assault and Battery Section 244.5.
244.5. (a) As used in this section, “stun gun” means any item, except a less lethal weapon, as defined in Section 16780, used or intended to be used as either an offensive or defensive weapon that is capable of temporarily immobilizing a person by the infliction of an electrical charge.
Yes, you can. Tasers are not firearms and as such don’t fall under the many laws against open carrying firearms in California.
Yes, you can. Assuming that you’re legally allowed to be in possession of the taser you can carry a concealed on or about your person without the benefit of a concealed weapons permit.
Just remember, you cannot take it everywhere without worry! More on that in a minute…
Yes. Generally, one needs to be at least 18 years old to purchase and possess a taser in California.
It’s completely legal for a person that is 16 or 17 years old to be in possession of a taser, or even buy one, so long as they have written permission from their parents in their possession at all times.
If you want to purchase a taser in California you’ll need to obtain one from an authorized dealer.
Typically, this will be a place that sells firearms; you should also note that California has several requirements for dealers that sell these devices.
To legally buy and possess a taser, you cannot be addicted to any narcotics, you cannot have a felony criminal record, or have been convicted of any crime involving assault anywhere in the United States.
Make sure you check out the relevant statute below.
STUN GUN Section 22610.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person may purchase, possess, or use a stun gun, subject to the following requirements:
(a) No person convicted of a felony or any crime involving an assault under the laws of the United States, the State of California, or any other state, government, or country, or convicted of misuse of a stun gun under Section 244.5, shall purchase, possess, or use any stun gun.
(b) No person addicted to any narcotic drug shall purchase, possess, or use a stun gun.
(c) (1) No person shall sell or furnish any stun gun to a minor unless the minor is at least 16 years of age and has the written consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian.
(2) Violation of this subdivision shall be a public offense punishable by a fifty-dollar ($50) fine for the first offense. Any subsequent violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor.
(d) No minor shall possess any stun gun unless the minor is at least 16 years of age and has the written consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian.
No. Training is not mandatory to purchase, own or carry a taser in California.
You can carry a taser anywhere that you are legally, lawfully allowed to. In California, there are quite a few places where you can’t, unfortunately.
Broadly, you’ll have to avoid carrying your taser, openly or concealed, and any city, county, state, or federal government buildings or offices, or other government installations including military bases, in any school or on any school property, and that includes any conveyance like a bus that is owned and operated by the school, at any meeting where the law requires public attendance, and in any secured area of any airport.
You can only ever use your taser to protect yourself from a legitimate threat of great injury or death.
You must never use your taser as a joke, to win an argument or because someone insulted you. These things aren’t toys!
A taser is properly categorized as a less-lethal weapon, not as a less-than-lethal weapon; a categorization California law is quite correct on, even though the less-than-lethal verbiage pops up in the text of the section.
It is possible that a taser could inflict lasting harm on someone if they already have a medical condition or compromised health or if they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It isn’t completely out of the question that your taser could set someone on fire!
Likewise, someone who’s immobilized by a taser could fall down out of control and crack their head.
That’s too bad for them if they were legitimately attacking you, but it’s too bad for you if that happens because you are goofing off with these powerful devices!
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