State laws in Tennessee do not address taser guns or stun guns – in fact, these weapons are legal to buy, possess, carry and use in self-defense. However, if they are used as deadly weapons, the user may face criminal charges depending on the circumstances of the case.
Those employed in the private security industry can possess taser guns if they have completed certified training to do so.
What Is a Taser Gun?
A taser gun is a hand-held device that temporarily incapacitates a target through an electrical charge. Tasers and stun guns are different weapons, although they are often described interchangeably.
Tasers shoot small probes or darts from up to 15 feet away through a handgun-type device. Probes are attached to thin wires that deliver electricity to a target on impact and disrupt an individual’s neuromuscular system. Once the probes hit the target, the taser can deliver numerous electrical cycles.
Stun guns administer electricity through direct contact. When the user pulls a trigger, the prongs at the end of the weapon deliver electricity to the target, who will then be briefly incapacitated.
Tennessee Laws Regarding Taser Guns
State laws in Tennessee do not specifically address tasers. They do not require a carry permit and can be bought, sold and used by anyone for a legitimate purpose, such as self-defense. The use of a taser typically does not constitute applying deadly force, as it is not a lethal weapon.
However, state of Tennessee law could apply to a taser gun if it is used as a deadly weapon, which is a weapon that can cause serious bodily harm or death by how it is used or intended to be used.
In a criminal case, a jury will decide if a taser is a deadly weapon according to the circumstances of the case.
Security Guards and Tasers
A security guard or officer in Tennessee may carry any type of weapon the commissioner of commerce and insurance or their designee prescribes.
A security guard can carry a firearm if they have a certification for it. They can also carry other types of weapons with certification, such as batons, clubs, stun guns, taser guns, Mace or any other weapon the commissioner prescribes.
Weapons Training for Security Guards
An unarmed security guard must complete weapons training and pass an exam within 15 days of starting employment. An armed security guard has 60 days to complete training and pass an exam for the weapon they’ll use on the job.
Both types of security guard applicants must complete a minimum of four hours of general training under a certified weapons trainer before taking the exam.
Applicants carrying less lethal devices, like a stun gun, Mace, chemical spray or a taser gun must have appropriate training specific to the device they’ll use from a trainer who has certification to instruct on that particular device.
Employer Training and Permit Holder Records
Tennessee employers must keep training records for each guard and note the specific device they’ll use. Guards must carry an instructor-issued or trainer-issued certification card and must show it upon demand by the commissioner, their authorized agent or a law enforcement officer.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.