What States Ban Tasers? Know the List of States That Prohibit the Use of Tasers

Do you know what states in the US still ban the use of Tasers by law enforcement officers? Well, it might come as a surprise that despite being a commonly used non-lethal weapon, Tasers are still banned in some states. As of 2021, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, are the only states that have a complete ban on the use of Tasers by law enforcement officers.

Tasers, or stun guns, are an effective alternative to lethal weapons that are used by police and law enforcement to subdue and detain suspects. Tasers use electric shocks to temporarily incapacitate an individual. However, the ban on Tasers in some states has remained a controversial issue for a long time. In some cases, the public and lawmakers of these states have argued that Tasers can be lethal and have resulted in cases of wrongful death. Despite this, Tasers remain a popular tool for law enforcement in other states, with over 17,000 police agencies currently using them.

Controversies Surrounding Taser Use

Tasers, also known as stun guns, are commonly used by law enforcement agencies in the United States as a non-lethal option for subduing suspects. While they have been hailed as a useful tool for policing, taser use has also sparked controversy and concern among some groups in society. Here are some of the controversies surrounding taser use:

  • Use of excessive force: There have been cases where taser use has been questioned as excessive force by law enforcement officers. Some critics argue that police are too quick to use tasers in situations where other methods of restraint could be used to subdue suspects.
  • Impact on vulnerable populations: Some groups, such as the elderly and people with heart conditions, are more susceptible to the effects of tasers. Critics argue that taser use can be particularly dangerous for these populations and that stricter regulations are needed to ensure their safety.
  • Racial bias: There have been allegations that tasers are used disproportionately against people of color, particularly Black Americans. Critics argue that this reflects broader issues of racial bias in law enforcement.

Along with these controversies, there have also been calls for increased transparency and accountability around taser use. Many argue that there should be stricter regulations around taser use, including clearer guidelines on when the devices can be used and increased training for law enforcement officers. By addressing these issues, taser use can become a more effective and just tool for policing.

The History of Tasers

The taser is a non-lethal self-defense weapon that delivers an electric shock to incapacitate the target temporarily. Originally named after a fictional device in the Tom Swift novels, the acronym TASER (Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle) was later adopted as the name for the device.

The first taser, also known as the Taser Public Defender, was invented by NASA researcher Jack Cover in 1969. His goal was to create a weapon that could incapacitate an attacker without using lethal force. For many years, tasers were primarily used by law enforcement agencies, but their use has expanded to include security personnel, private citizens, and even the military.

States That Ban Tasers

  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island

Six states in the United States currently ban the use of tasers: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. In some of these states, the use of tasers by law enforcement officers is strictly prohibited, while in others, it is illegal for private citizens to possess or use tasers. Additionally, some states have restrictions on the use of tasers by certain individuals, such as convicted felons.

Effectiveness of Tasers

There is much debate over the effectiveness of tasers as a non-lethal weapon. Proponents argue that tasers are a safe and effective alternative to using lethal force, while critics question their safety and the potential for abuse by law enforcement officers. Some studies suggest that the use of tasers can cause serious injuries or even death, particularly in individuals with underlying health conditions.

In 2017, Amnesty International released a report stating that there have been at least 1,000 deaths in the United States following the use of tasers by law enforcement officers. The organization has called for stricter regulations on the use of tasers, including requiring law enforcement agencies to provide better training and increasing transparency around the use of tasers.

Taser Laws by State

While tasers are legal in most states, there are varying regulations regarding their use and possession. Some states require individuals to obtain a permit or undergo training before being allowed to carry a taser, while others prohibit the use of tasers in certain situations, such as schools or government buildings.

State Taser Laws
Alabama Legal with restrictions
Alaska Legal with restrictions
Arizona Legal with restrictions
Arkansas Legal
California Legal with restrictions
Colorado Legal with restrictions
Connecticut Legal with restrictions
Delaware Legal with restrictions
Florida Legal with restrictions
Georgia Legal with restrictions
Hawaii Illegal
Idaho Legal with restrictions
Illinois Legal with restrictions
Indiana Legal with restrictions
Iowa Legal with restrictions
Kansas Legal with restrictions
Kentucky Legal with restrictions
Louisiana Legal with restrictions
Maine Legal with restrictions
Maryland Legal with restrictions
Massachusetts Illegal
Michigan Illegal for civilians
Minnesota Legal with restrictions
Mississippi Legal with restrictions
Missouri Legal with restrictions
Montana Legal with restrictions
Nebraska Legal with restrictions
Nevada Legal with restrictions
New Hampshire Legal with restrictions
New Jersey Illegal
New Mexico Legal with restrictions
New York Illegal
North Carolina Legal with restrictions
North Dakota Legal with restrictions
Ohio Legal with restrictions
Oklahoma Legal with restrictions
Oregon Legal with restrictions
Pennsylvania Legal with restrictions
Rhode Island Illegal
South Carolina Legal with restrictions
South Dakota Legal with restrictions
Tennessee Legal with restrictions
Texas Legal with restrictions
Utah Legal with restrictions
Vermont Legal with restrictions
Virginia Legal with restrictions
Washington Legal with restrictions
West Virginia Legal with restrictions
Wisconsin Legal with restrictions
Wyoming Legal with restrictions

Before purchasing or using a taser, it is important to research and understand the laws in your state to avoid any legal issues.

The Differences Between Stun Guns and Tasers

Many people use the terms stun guns and tasers interchangeably, but they are actually two different types of devices. Knowing the differences between them can help you choose the right tool for your personal safety needs.

Stun guns are handheld devices that deliver a high-voltage shock to an attacker. They are usually powered by a battery and use metal probes to deliver the shock. When activated, stun guns send an electrical charge through the attacker’s muscles, causing them to contract and impairing their ability to move.

Tasers, on the other hand, use compressed air to fire two metal probes attached to wires that deliver an electrical charge. Tasers can be used from a distance of up to 15 feet and are often used by law enforcement as a less-than-lethal option to incapacitate an attacker. Tasers have a higher price point than stun guns, but their range and accuracy make them a popular choice for personal defense.

Key Differences Between Stun Guns and Tasers

  • Stun guns require direct contact with the attacker, while tasers can be used from a distance.
  • Tasers utilize metal probes attached to wires, while stun guns use metal probes that are directly in contact with the attacker.
  • Tasers have a higher price point than stun guns.

Which One Should You Choose?

When it comes to choosing between a stun gun and a taser, there are several factors to consider. If you are looking for a more affordable option and don’t require the accuracy or range of a taser, then a stun gun may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a device that can be used from a distance and can better subdue an attacker, a taser may be the better option.


Understanding the differences between stun guns and tasers is important when it comes to personal safety and self-defense. While both devices are effective in deterring attackers, they work in different ways, so it’s up to you to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Stun Guns Tasers
Require direct contact with attacker Can be used from a distance
Price point is lower Price point is higher
Work by delivering high-voltage shock to attacker’s muscles Work by delivering electrical charge via metal probes attached to wires

Ultimately, the choice between stun guns and tasers comes down to your personal preference and the situation in which you find yourself.

Alternatives to using tasers for law enforcement

As tasers continue to face scrutiny and controversy, law enforcement agencies are seeking alternative methods for non-lethal force. Here are some of the most commonly used alternatives:

  • Pepper spray: This is a non-lethal chemical irritant that causes temporary blindness, difficulty breathing, and pain, allowing officers to subdue a suspect without causing serious injury.
  • Bean bag rounds: These are shotgun shells filled with small bean bags that are designed to deliver a less-lethal blow to the suspect, causing pain and potential bruising but without causing serious injury or death.
  • Net guns: These non-lethal weapons fire a net at a suspect, immobilizing them and preventing them from fleeing or resisting arrest.

While these alternative methods may not be perfect, they can be effective in non-lethal situations and help reduce the need for lethal force. However, it is important to note that every situation is unique, and officers must always evaluate the level of force necessary to safely subdue a suspect.

In addition to these alternatives, there are also other initiatives being taken to reduce the need for force altogether. Some examples include:

  • Increasing officer training: Ensuring that officers are thoroughly trained in de-escalation tactics and conflict resolution can help prevent situations from escalating to the point where force is necessary.
  • Community policing: Building strong relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve can help reduce tensions and prevent confrontations from occurring in the first place.
  • Implementing body cameras: The use of body cameras can increase transparency and accountability during police interactions. Studies have shown that agencies that use body cameras experience fewer use-of-force incidents.

Ultimately, the goal of law enforcement is to protect and serve their communities while preserving life and ensuring safety for both officers and citizens. By exploring alternative methods and implementing proactive measures, agencies can work towards achieving this goal while minimizing the need for forceful measures such as tasers.

Alternative Pros Cons
Pepper spray Effective in close-range situations, non-lethal, widely available Can be ineffective against suspects wearing protective gear, may cause injury when used improperly
Bean bag rounds Less-lethal than traditional firearms, can be effective at mid-range distance Can cause serious injury or death if not used properly, may not be effective in all situations
Net guns Effective at incapacitating suspects, non-lethal, can be used at a distance May not be effective against suspects who are armed or wearing protective gear, can be difficult to use effectively

Table 1: Pros and cons of alternative non-lethal weapons for law enforcement.

Taser training for law enforcement

When it comes to the use of Tasers by law enforcement, proper training is crucial. Tasers can be lethal, and officers need to understand how to use them safely and effectively.

Many states have established training guidelines for officers who use Tasers, outlining everything from what types of situations warrant Taser use to what steps officers should take before deploying a Taser. The training can vary widely from state to state, but most cover some basic principles.

Training guidelines for Taser use

  • Officers typically need to be certified in Taser use before deploying them in the field.
  • Officers need to know when using a Taser is appropriate, and when it is not. Most states specify that Tasers should only be used to subdue suspects who pose an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or others.
  • Officers must also understand the risks associated with using Tasers, including the potential for injury or death. Training often includes scenarios to help officers better understand these risks.

Frequency of Taser training

In many states, officers are required to undergo regular training to stay current on the use of Tasers. This can include annual or bi-annual training sessions, as well as recertification processes that must be completed on a regular basis.

The specifics of the training can vary, but many states require officers to demonstrate their ability to use a Taser safely and effectively before they are allowed to use them in the field.

Continuing education for Taser use

Given the potential risks associated with Taser use, many law enforcement agencies encourage officers to continue their education in this area throughout their careers. This can include taking courses in Taser use, attending training sessions, or participating in simulations that mimic real-world scenarios.

Impact of Taser training on the use of force by law enforcement

State Estimated Taser use reduction (%)
Texas 24
California 23
Florida 20

Studies have shown that proper training in Taser use can significantly reduce the use of force by law enforcement. In a recent study of three states, researchers found that officers who had received Taser training were less likely to use other forms of force, such as pepper spray, batons, or guns. This reduction in force was estimated to be as high as 24% in some states.

The Effects of Taser Use on the Human Body

While a taser is often hailed as a non-lethal weapon, its usage can still have harmful effects on the human body. Here’s a closer look at a few of them:

  • Cardiac Arrest: There is a risk of taser usage causing heart complications. According to several studies, the electrical shocks delivered by tasers can cause cardiac arrest by interfering with the heart’s electrical activity.
  • Injuries: It’s not uncommon for a person to get injured when they fall to the ground after being hit by a taser barb. Falls can cause head injuries, fractures, and even spinal cord injuries.
  • Breathing Difficulties: In rare scenarios, the use of tasers can cause respiratory failure, leading to suffocation. This occurs when the victim is shocked near their chest or throat, which can cause spams in the muscles that control breathing.

Lawmakers in several states have decided to put safeguards in place for situations where an individual has been tasered. Here are a few states that ban the use of tasers:

State Restrictions
Connecticut Tasers are treated as deadly weapons, and only law enforcement officials are allowed to carry them.
Hawaii Tasers cannot be sold, and only law enforcement officers are permitted to possess them.
Illinois Tasers are prohibited from use by civilians and only law enforcement officers can carry them
Michigan Tasers cannot be sold, possessing, or used by civilians or police without governmental permission.

Although tasers may seem to be a safer option than guns, there is still a risk of serious, and even fatal injuries. Knowing the potential effects of taser usage on the human body helps you to make informed decisions about the use of this self-defense weapon.

The Future of Taser Technology

The development of taser technology continues to evolve, with companies constantly seeking ways to improve upon current designs and create new devices to better protect law enforcement officers and the public. Some of the innovations being explored for future taser technology include:

  • High Definition Cameras: Taser manufacturer Axon is already integrating cameras into their taser devices to provide a more complete recording of police interactions. In the future, high definition cameras may become the norm, providing even greater clarity and detail for evidence and accountability purposes.
  • Smart Tasers: With advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, it’s possible that tasers could become “smarter” in the near future. This could include enhancements like automatic target identification, real-time threat assessment, and even non-lethal weapons that can distinguish between a target and any bystanders in the area.
  • Wireless Energy Transfer: Current tasers require wires to transmit the electric shock, but research is being done on wireless energy transfer, which could make tasers much more versatile and effective in a wider range of situations.

Of course, as with any emerging technology, there are also concerns to be addressed when it comes to taser advancements. For example, there are questions around the safety of wireless energy transfer, and the potential for tasers to be misused or abused by law enforcement officers. It will be important for the industry to work closely with regulators and stakeholders in order to ensure that new taser technology is safe and responsible when it is introduced.

All in all, the future of taser technology looks promising, with companies investing significant resources and expertise into creating devices that are increasingly safe, effective, and efficient. As these technologies continue to evolve, it’s likely that tasers will only become more important and widely used as a tool for law enforcement officers to protect themselves and the public they serve.

FAQs About What States Ban Tasers

1. What is a taser, and why are there states that ban it?
A taser is an electroshock weapon that is used for self-defense purposes. Some states have banned tasers because of the risks associated with its usage.

2. Can I legally own a taser in any state?
There are currently no states that completely outlaw the ownership of tasers. However, some states may have certain restrictions on who can legally own one.

3. What states have banned civilian use of tasers?
States such as Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island have completely banned the civilian use of tasers.

4. Can law enforcement officers carry tasers in all states?
While most states allow law enforcement officers to carry tasers, there may be certain restrictions and guidelines that they have to follow.

5. What are the penalties for using a taser in a state where it is banned?
Penalties may vary depending on the state, but using a taser in a state where it is banned may result in fines or imprisonment.

6. Is it legal to bring a taser from a state where it is legal to a state where it is banned?
It is illegal to bring a taser from a state where it is legal to a state where it is banned. This is because each state has its own laws and regulations regarding tasers.

7. Can I purchase a taser online and have it shipped to a state where it is banned?
It is illegal to ship a taser to a state where it is banned. Online retailers will usually have a disclaimer that states that they do not ship tasers to states where it is illegal.

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