The State of Georgia doesn’t regulate stun guns or Tasers, and most people may carry one of these weapons almost everywhere. But felons aren’t allowed to have Tasers, and anyone could be charged with a crime for using either a stun gun or Taser as an offensive weapon. Read on to learn more.
Stun guns and Tasers are two types of hand-held weapons that deliver an electrical charge. You have to touch someone with a stun gun to deliver a shock. A Taser (the brand name for the most common of these devices) works from a distance by shooting small darts attached to wires that transmit the electric current. In order to be treated as a stun gun or Taser under Georgia law, the device must deliver a charge that is stronger than 20,000 volts or can otherwise incapacitate someone (Ga. Code § 16-11-106(a) (2019)). Some Georgia statutes apply to both types of device, while other laws apply only to Tasers.
Most people in Georgia may purchase and carry stun guns and Tasers without a license. However, it’s a felony to have a Taser if you’ve previously been convicted of another felony (Ga. Code § 16.11.131 (2019)).
Except for peace officers and certain other authorized individuals, it’s illegal in Georgia to bring a stun gun or Taser onto school property, including public and private K-12 schools, voc-tech schools, colleges, and universities. This ban also applies to K-12 school-sponsored activities and school buses. (Ga. Code § 16-11-127.1 (2019).)
Although you’re allowed to use a stun gun or Taser against someone defensively (if you believe it’s necessary to defend yourself or another person from immediate and unlawful force), it’s a crime to use these weapons offensively (Ga. Code § 16-3-21 (2019)).
Some criminal laws in Georgia specifically apply to stun guns and Tasers. For instance, it’s a felony if you have a stun gun or Taser while you are committing or trying to commit certain crimes that are themselves felonies, including:
Also, the penalties are steeper for hijacking a motor vehicle if you used force or intimidation while in possession of a stun gun or Taser. (Ga. Code §§ 16-5-44.1, 6-11-106 (2019).)
Using a stun gun or Taser might also carry felony charges under other statutes that don’t specifically mention these electrical weapons. For instance, it’s considered aggravated assault when the crime is carried out with a deadly weapon or any device that causes or is likely to cause serious bodily injury when used offensively. Also, armed robbery involves using an offensive weapon to forcibly take property away from someone. The Georgia Supreme Court has recognized that stun guns and Tasers may be considered offensive weapons that are likely to result in serious bodily injury, depending on how they’re used (Harwell v. State, 512 S.E.2d 892 (Ga. Sup. Ct. 1999)).
Look Out for Legal Changes
States can change their laws at any time. You can use this search tool to find and read the current Georgia codes discussed in this article.
Some Georgia cities and counties may have regulations on stun guns and Tasers that are stricter than state law. If you have questions about your legal right to own or carry one of these weapons where you live, you may want to check with your local law enforcement agency or a local criminal defense lawyer. But if you’re facing charges for a crime that involved the use of a stun gun or Taser, you should strongly consider consulting with a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.