New Jersey law says it's illegal to possess a stun gun or Taser, but a federal court has ruled that the law is unconstitutional. As a result, anyone who is 18 or older (with some exceptions explained below) can buy and possess one of these weapons in the state—at least until the New Jersey legislature adds more regulations. Read on for details.
Are Tasers and Stun Guns Legal in New Jersey?
New Jersey has a law on the books that says that it's a crime to possess a stun gun, which is any weapon or device that sends out an electrical charge intended to disable someone. This definition applies to both Tasers and direct-contact stun guns. (Learn more about stun guns and Tasers, including how they work and the evolving law on these weapons in the U.S.)
But in 2017, a federal court declared that New Jersey's stun gun law violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms because it completely banned possession of stun guns. The court ruled that because the ban was unconstitutional, it couldn't be enforced.
The court also said that New Jersey could make its law constitutional by setting reasonable limits on stun gun possession and not banning them completely. But, as of the close of 2022, the state still hadn't added any regulations to fix the law. So even if someone technically breaks the law by possessing a stun gun, they can't be convicted for it because the law isn't enforceable.
(N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:39-1(t), 2C:39-3(h) (2022); New Jersey Second Amendment Soc. v. Porrino, Consent Order, 3:16-CV-04906 (U.S.D.C. N.J. 2017).)
In short, no. In 2018, New Jersey made it illegal for anyone younger than 18 to possess a stun gun. Many states have similar limits regarding minors and weapons, and those laws are usually considered constitutional. If a minor is found with a stun gun in New Jersey, the police will simply take it away.
(N.J. Admin. Code 13:54-5.8 (2022).)
Using a stun gun in genuine self-defense is probably legal in New Jersey. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that stun guns are protected under the Second Amendment, and that people have a right to bear arms for self-defense.
But a person can't just pull out a stun gun any time someone challenges them. The amount of force you use in self-defense must be "proportional," meaning that it's no greater than necessary to defend against the danger.
Even though stun guns are legal in New Jersey, using one can still land you behind bars. For example, using a stun gun on someone when it's not in self-defense can result in an assault conviction.
Having a stun gun for an unlawful purpose is also illegal. So, someone who possesses a stun gun to commit a crime can be convicted of both the crime in question and unlawful weapon possession. Unlawful weapon possession is either a second- or third-degree offense (similar to a mid-level felony in other states), depending on what kind of crime the weapon was used for.
It's also a fourth-degree offense (like a low-level felony in other states) for most felons, domestic violence offenders, and mentally ill people to possess deadly weapons. Whether a stun gun is considered a deadly weapon depends on the specific stun gun in question and whether it can cause serious injury.
(N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:11-1, 2C:12-1, 2C:39-4.1, 2C:39-7 (2022).)