A stun gun (popularly also known as a Taser, the main maker of stun guns) is a device that is used or intended to be used as either an offensive or defensive weapon, which is capable of temporarily immobilizing a person by inflicting an electrical charge. The California statute differentiates between lethal stun guns and “less lethal” stun guns (this difference becomes important in the context of assaults and punishment).
(Ca. Pen. Code §§17230, 16780.)
This article describes California state law regarding who may not have a stun gun, and the circumstances or situations when carrying a stun gun is illegal in the state.
To learn more about how stun guns work, and how permitting laws vary by state, see States Requiring a Stun Gun Permit.
People Who May Not Carry a Stun Gun in California
In California, most people may purchase, posses, or use a stun gun, and they do not have to obtain a permit. However, you may not purchase, possess, or use a stun gun if you are:
- a convicted felon, someone convicted of an assault under federal or any state’s laws or the laws of any country, or have a prior conviction for misusing a stun gun under Cal. Pen. Code §244.5, or
- addicted to any narcotic drug.
California law also limits minors’ possession of stun guns. Those under the age of 16 may not possess them. Minors who are 16 to 18 years must have parental or guardian consent. Minors who possess guns without proper consent (or who are too young) may be dealt with under California’s juvenile justice system. Those who improperly furnish or sell a gun to a minor will face a $50 fine for the first offense (subsequent offenses are misdemeanors).
(Ca. Penal Code Ann. § 22610.)
Situations or Circumstances Where Carrying a Stun Gun is Illegal
It is illegal to carry or use a stun gun when you are in a secure area of an airport or in a passenger terminal in a harbor facility that hosts regular commuter operations; or in any state or local government building; or in any meeting that is required by law to be open to the public. Peace officers and specified others are exempt from these rules. Violations of these rules are misdemeanors.
(Ca. Penal Code §§ 1715, 22620)
Assaults Using a Stun Gun
Anyone who uses a stun gun or less lethal weapon to assault another may be charged with an assault. Punishment includes one year in jail (a misdemeanor), or imprisonment for sixteen months, two years, or three years (a felony). If the assault is upon a peace officer or firefighter, whom the assailant knew (or should have known) was such, and if the victim was engaged in the performance of his or her duties, the assault may be punished by one year incarceration in the county jail (a misdemeanor); or two, three, or four years in prison (a felony).
(Ca. Penal Code §244.5.)
Assaults upon school employees also receive special attention. Using a stun gun upon an employee, whom the assailant knew (or should have known) was such, when the victim was engaged in the performance of his duties, may be punished by one year in the county jail (a misdemeanor0 or two, three, or four years in state prison (a felony).
(Ca. Penal Code §245.5.)
Getting Legal Help
If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to purchase, carry, or use a gun in California, or if you are facing charges for a stun gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.