Florida doesn't require a license to buy or carry a stun gun or Taser that's designed for self-defense. However, there are restrictions on possession and use of these weapons by certain people and in certain circumstances. Read on for details.
Both stun guns and Tasers can temporarily incapacitate a person with an electrical charge, but the devices work differently. A stun gun delivers a painful shock only when you touch a person directly with the device. A Taser (a brand name that has become the popular term for this type of device) shoots darts from a distance and delivers an electrical current through wires attached to the darts. Tasers actually disrupt the target's neuromuscular system.
Florida uses the term "electric weapon" for both types of devices when they're designed or intended for offensive or defensive purposes, the destruction of life, or the infliction of injury (Fla. Stat. § 790.001 (2019)).
In Florida, it's a felony to purchase, possess, or use an electric weapon if you:
(Fla. Stat. § 790.23 (2019).)
If you're younger than 16, you may not use a stun gun or Taser in Florida unless you're under the direct supervision of an adult who's acting with your parent's consent.
Parents or other responsible adults will face misdemeanor charges if they knowingly allow minors under 16 to use or even possess these weapons without supervision and parental consent. It's also a misdemeanor to give or sell an electric weapon to anyone younger than 18 without parental permission. (Fla. Stat. §§ 790.17(1), 790.22 (2019).)
It's illegal in Florida to carry a stun gun or Taser (either openly or concealed) for any purpose other than self-defense. In addition, the weapon itself must be nonlethal and designed solely for defensive purposes.
It is also against state law to carry a stun gun on school property or a school bus, at a school bus stop, or at a school-sponsored event. This prohibition applies to K-12 schools as well as career centers, colleges, and all postsecondary schools.
Law enforcement officers are exempt from all these restrictions. (Fla. Stat. §§ 790.01, 790.053, 790.115 (2019).)
It's a crime in Florida to brandish an electric weapon in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening way, unless it's necessary for self-defense. The crime is generally a first-degree misdemeanor, but it becomes a felony if you do it on or near school property (during school hours) or during a school-sponsored event.
You can also be charged with a third-degree felony if you:
(Fla. Stat. §§ 790.054, 790.07, 790.10, 790.115(1).)
Look Out for Legal Changes
States can change their laws at any time, so it's always a good idea to check the current Florida statutes by using this search tool.
You should be aware that there could be local ordinances or regulations on stun guns and Tasers. Check with your local law enforcement agency or a local lawyer to learn more.
If you're facing criminal charges that involve the use of one of these weapons, strongly consider speaking to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.