Stun Gun Laws in Michigan

Stun guns are illegal in Michigan, but civilians may possess and use Tasers if they have a concealed carry permit.

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.

What Are Stun Guns and Tasers?

There are two basic types of hand-held devices that temporarily incapacitate people with electrical currents:

  • stun guns, which give a painful shock when they directly touch the target, and
  • Tasers, which is actually a brand name for devices that shoot darts attached to wires that carry an electrical charge and temporarily disrupt the body’s electro-muscular system.

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.

Stun Guns and Tasers: From Total Ban to Partial Regulations

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:

  • they have a valid Michigan license to carry a concealed pistol
  • they've received training in the use and risks of Tasers, and
  • the device has an identification and tracking system that allows it to be traced to the buyer (presumably through the darts) when it’s first used.

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).)

Getting a License for a Taser in Michigan

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:

  • any felony conviction
  • certain recent misdemeanor convictions (including for domestic violence, stalking, illegal use of self-defense spray, or various weapons violations)
  • a dishonorable discharge from the military, or
  • a court order or other laws that prohibit you from possessing firearms.

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).)

When Carrying or Using a Taser Is Illegal in Michigan

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:

  • school property (unless you stay inside your car while dropping off or picking up your child at school)
  • college classrooms or dorms
  • day care centers
  • sports arenas, stadiums, or large entertainment facilities (seating 2,500 or more people)
  • bars (unless you’re the owner or an employee)
  • places of worship, unless they explicitly permit carrying concealed pistols, and
  • hospitals.

(Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 28.425o, 780.972 (2019).)

Penalties for Stun Gun or Taser Violations

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:

  • don’t have your license with you while you’re carrying a Taser
  • don’t immediately tell a police officer who stops you that you have a Taser concealed on you or in your vehicle, or
  • fail to show your license and ID to an officer on request.

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.

Getting Legal Help

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.

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