After a court ruled that Michigan's blanket ban on consumer possession of stun guns and Tasers was unconstitutional, the state legislature amended the law to allow consumer possession and use of Tasers—but only with a concealed pistol license. Read on to learn about the differences between Michigan regulations on stun guns and Tasers, license requirements for Tasers, and penalties for violating those requirements.
There are two basic types of hand-held devices that temporarily incapacitate people with electrical currents:
Some state laws treat stun guns and Tasers the same (and may use the same terminology for both). But Michigan currently has different rules for these two types of devices.
Before 2012, Michigan outlawed the possession of any portable device that directs an electrical current designed to injure, kill, or temporarily incapacitate the target. That definition would apply to both stun guns and Tasers. The only exceptions were for on-duty law enforcement officers or certain other individuals (like probation officers and licensed private investigators) who were authorized and trained to use the devices as part of their official duties. However, a Michigan appeals court ruled that a complete ban on consumer possession and use of all stun guns and Tasers, whether in the home or openly carried in public, was an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms (People v. Yanna, 824 N.W.2d 241 (Mich. Ct. App. 2012)).
Michigan then changed its law to add an exception to the ban on devices that use electro-muscular disruption technology (like Tasers). Michiganders may have and use one of these devices in a reasonable way, as long as:
Although some have argued that the state's ban on stun guns also runs afoul of the Second Amendment, so far the Michigan legislature has kept that prohibition. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.224a (2021).)
Since the license to have a Taser in Michigan is the same as for concealed handguns, there are fairly strict qualifications. The state police will conduct a background check, and a number of things on your record will disqualify you, including:
Among other requirements, you must be 21, a U.S. citizen (or in the country legally), and a Michigan resident for six months, unless you qualify for an emergency license. (Mich. Com. Laws § 28.425b (2019).)
Even if you have a Michigan concealed pistol license, it's illegal to use a Taser except under circumstances that justify the legal use of physical force, including to defend yourself or someone else from an attack or sexual assault. It's also against the law to carry a Taser in certain places, including:
(Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 28.425o, 780.972 (2019).)
Possession or use of a stun gun—or of a Taser without a concealed carry license—is a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000. If you have a license for your Taser but use it against someone unlawfully, you could be found guilty of a misdemeanor and face to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
It's a civil infraction if you:
Even with a license, carrying a Taser to the sensitive locations (listed above) is also a civil infraction for the first offense, but it goes up to a misdemeanor for a second violation and a felony for the third one.
Fines for these civil infractions are $100 or $500 (and more for subsequent offenses). Your Taser may also be seized, although there's a procedure for getting it back if you have a license and show it to the law enforcement agency within 45 days. Your license could also be suspended or even revoked under certain conditions. (Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 28.425f, 28.425o, 750.224a (2021).)
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 Michigan codes discussed in this article.
If you're facing charges for a stun gun or Taser violation, it would be smart to consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you're charged with only an infraction, a subsequent violation could mean criminal charges—and in some circumstances, another violation after a misdemeanor conviction could even land you in prison for a felony. An experienced lawyer should be able to evaluate your case and determine if you have valid grounds for getting the charges dismissed.