North Carolina law does not regulate the purchase of stun guns. Anyone in the state can buy one of these weapons and may carry and use it for a legal reason (like self-defense). But some state laws on dangerous or deadly weapons could potentially apply to stun guns or Tasers, and there may be local regulations on these devices. Read on for details.
There are two basic types of hand-held devices that can temporarily incapacitate someone with an electrical charge: stun guns and Tasers. Stun guns deliver a painful shock on direct contact. Tasers (a brand name that has become the popular term for all similar devices) work from a distance by shooting small darts attached to thin wires that transmit the electrical charge. Some states treat stun guns and Tasers differently in their laws. North Carolina law refers only to stun guns, and it doesn’t define the generic term. However, the stun gun provisions presumably apply to Tasers as well.
Except for law enforcement officers or certain other authorized personnel, it’s illegal in North Carolina to carry a concealed stun gun outside of your own home. If you’re charged with this crime, however, you may defend yourself by arguing that you had the weapon for a legitimate purpose and didn’t try to do anything illegal with it.
The state also specifically prohibits carrying a stun gun on school property (including public or private K-12 schools, colleges, or universities), or helping a minor do so. (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-269, 14-269.2 (2019).)
North Carolina has several other laws that prohibit carrying and using dangerous or deadly weapons in certain situations, including:
These and other crimes could potentially apply to stun guns or Tasers, depending the circumstances. For instance, in a case where a victim fell and was seriously injured after being shocked with a stun gun during a robbery, the court found there was enough evidence to support the jury’s decision that the stun gun was a dangerous weapon that threatened the victim’s life. As another North Carolina court explained, the deadly nature of weapon may sometimes depend more on how it’s used and on the victim’s condition than on the weapon itself. (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-277.2, 14-33, 14-87 (2019); State v. Rivera, 716 S.E.2d 859 (N.C. App. 2011); State v. Batchelor, 606 S.E.2d 422 (N.C. App. 2005).)
Look Out for Legal Changes
States can change their laws at any time. You can use this search tool to check the current North Carolina statutes.
Because there could be local ordinances or regulations on stun guns and Tasers, you may want to check with your local law enforcement agency or a local lawyer if you have questions about whether you’re legally allowed to carry or use one of these devices. However, if you’re already facing criminal charges related to your use of a stun gun, you should strongly consider speaking to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.