Illinois regulates the purchase, possession, and use of stun guns and Tasers. You must meet the requirements for a permit before you can buy one of these weapons. Even with a permit, there are limits on legal possession and use. Read on for details.
There are basically two types of hand-held devices that temporarily incapacitate people with electrical charges. Some people (and state laws) refer to all of these devices as stun guns. But Illinois law differentiates between:
The Illinois laws on stun guns and Tasers apply to both types of weapons, as long as their electrical current can disrupt the target’s nervous system in a way that stops normal functioning (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/24-1(a) (2019)).
In Illinois, it’s illegal to buy or possess a stun gun or Taser without a valid state-issued Firearm Owners’ Identification Card (known as an FOID). There are exceptions, including if you’re an on-duty law enforcement officer or military servicemember, or if you don’t live in Illinois and have a firearms license in your home state.
In order to get a FOID, you must submit an application, along with evidence that you meet the qualifications, including:
The seller will conduct a background check, and you must wait 24 hours before you can actually take possession of the stun gun or Taser. Your application will be denied—or your card revoked—if the Department of State Police finds that you don’t meet the qualifications. (430 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 65/2, 65/8; 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/24-3 (2019).)
Even if you have an FOID, it’s against Illinois law to have a stun gun or Taser under certain circumstances and in certain places, including:
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat § 5/24-1 (2019).)
Until early 2019, it was also a crime in Illinois to carry a stun gun or Taser in a vehicle or concealed when you’re anywhere other than your own home, property, or business, or when you’re invited onto someone else’s home or property (720 Ill. Comp. Stat § 5/24-1(a)(4)). In 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court found that part of the law was an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. As the court reasoned, stun guns and Tasers aren’t covered by the exception in the provision for those who have a license to carry a concealed firearm. That meant the provision was more than a regulation; it was essentially a comprehensive ban that prohibited carrying stun guns and Tasers in public. As such, it violated the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. However, the court hasn't released its opinion for publication, which means that it still could change or withdraw the ruling. (People v. Webb, __ N.E.3d __, 2019 IL 122951 (Ill. Sup. Ct. 2019).)
The Webb court didn’t mention another provision in the same statute that makes it illegal to carry stun guns and Tasers on public streets or public land within city limits (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/24-1(a)(10)). It’s not clear whether that prohibition could still be enforced or would withstand a legal challenge in light of the Webb decision.
Sun Guns and Firearms Restraining Orders
Under the Illinois version of a “red flag law” (effective July 2019), family members or law enforcement may ask courts to issue firearms restraining orders against individuals (referred to as “respondents”) who pose a danger of hurting themselves or others with guns. If issued, these orders require the respondents to surrender their FOID cards along with any firearms they have. So even though the law doesn’t explicitly require giving up stun guns with a firearms restraining order, without an FOID the respondent wouldn’t have the legal right to possess a stun gun in Illinois as long as the order is in effect. (430 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 67/35, 67/40 (2019).)
The penalties for illegal possession or use or stun guns or Tasers vary depending on the circumstances. For instance, it’s a Class 3 felony (punishable by a fine of up to $75,000 and/or five to ten years in prison) to have one of these weapons without a valid FOID if you aren’t eligible for the permit. If your FOID is simply expired and you’re still eligible, it’s a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and/or up to a year in prison). Carrying a stun gun in certain prohibited locations like schools or parks is a Class 2 felony, which can carry a potential prison sentence of three to seven years. (430 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 65/14; 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-1, 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-35, 5/5-4.5-40, 5/5-4.5-55 (2019).)
In addition to the state laws on stun guns and Tasers, some cities have their own restrictions on these weapons. If you have questions about whether you’re legally allowed to buy, possess, or use a stun gun or Taser, you can speak with a local criminal defense lawyer or contact your local law enforcement agency. And if you’re facing criminal charges for a stun gun violation, you should speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
States can change their laws at any time, so you may want to check the current version of Illinois statutes with this search tool. You should also know, however, that court decisions can affect how laws are interpreted and applied—another good reason to consult an attorney if you're concerned about the how the law will apply in your situation.