Texas Laws on Taser Guns for Personal Use

Man with a stungun
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Texas is known to be gun-friendly, having some of the least restrictive gun laws in the U.S. While machine guns and armor-piercing bullets are prohibited under Texas law, the state allows gun purchases without waiting periods, and all qualified applicants have the right to carry a concealed firearm.

That's why it won't be a big surprise to learn that Taser guns – known broadly as stun guns – are not regulated in the state of Texas. They are considered to be less lethal, or even non-lethal, weapons of self-defense. Texas consumers can buy Tasers and own them without a background check; even felons can own stun guns.

About Tasers and Stun Guns

A stun gun is generally defined as an electroshock weapon. TASER is a brand of stun gun made by Axon. It was one of the early popular models that helped bring electric shock weapons for self-defense to the public's attention.

TASER's early appearance and popularity caused people to use the term "Taser" as a generic name for all stun guns. In fact, while every Taser is a stun gun, not all stun guns are Tasers.

The original brand term "TASER" stands for "Tom A. Swift's electric rifle." The maker of the original Taser admired a young-adult book called "Tom A. Swift and His Electric Rifle" so much that he named the weapon he developed after it.

How a Taser Works

A Taser is a type of stun gun that looks somewhat like an actual gun, but instead of bullets, a Taser shoots darts with electrodes. This allows an individual to use a Taser from a distance, sometimes up to 15 feet. The darts remain connected to the device after shooting, and, on contact, deliver a debilitating electric shock to the person hit.

The electric current disrupts muscle control and can cause temporary paralysis and incapacitate the individual. It usually does this without killing the person, although some deaths have been attributed to stun guns. That means that they can, in some cases, be weapons of deadly force.

About Stun Guns

Non-TASER stun guns look a little less like a gun than a Taser and they have to connect physically with the target, requiring a person to be close to their assailant. Tasers impart a painful shock.

Both stun guns and Tasers are used by law enforcement to incapacitate suspects who are not cooperating or who are trying to escape. They are also sold as personal defense weapons. On more than one occasion, the use of a stun gun has killed the individual hit with the electrodes.

Tasers in Texas State

Texas classifies stun guns as non-lethal weapons. As such, it is not regulated in Texas, which means that stun gun devices are legal to buy, sell and own in Texas. Anyone can acquire one without a background check, and no license is required to own or to carry one.

No Gun License or Carry Permit Required

An individual can even carry a concealed stun gun without having to submit any applications or documentation. The open and concealed gun carry laws in Texas apply only to firearms, and Texas Penal Code Section 46.01 defines that term in a manner that excludes stun guns and Tasers. (Tex. Penal Code Section 46.01).

On the other hand, the lack of regulation is intended to allow individuals to carry stun guns as self-defense weapons. Individuals are permitted to carry stun guns only to use for personal defense, not for any other purpose. Texans must be at least 18 years old and have no criminal convictions or felonies to buy one online or in a retail store.

Note that anyone 18 or older can buy, own and carry a Taser in Texas. This includes adolescents and adults. It also includes those with a criminal background, including felons. They simply cannot buy them online or in retail stores. They could purchase from a friend, however, or have one gifted by someone else.

Crimes Involving Taser Use

The fact that having a Taser is legal in Texas does not suggest that crimes can't involve these stun guns. This makes sense when considered carefully, since even a perfectly legal screw driver can be the center of a murder charge if wedged into somebody's heart.

Just so, a crime that is committed using a stun gun is a crime just the same. For example, if an individual uses a Taser to disable a person in order to steal their wallet, this still constitutes a theft. But these types of crimes are, quite understandably, not listed specifically in the Texas Code.

In fact, the only crime described in the Texas Penal Code that mentions a stun gun or a Taser is found in Sec. 38.14 of the Texas statutes. This statute makes it a third-degree felony to take a firearm, nightstick, stun gun or personal protection chemical-dispensing device from a police officer, security officer or similar law enforcement person. Even attempting to do this can send the person to jail on a felony charge.

Stun Guns Are Legal in Most States

State laws about Taser ownership and use are not uniform throughout the country, although the vast majority of the states, as well as Puerto Rico, allow their residents to own and carry stun guns without significant regulation. Some of these states, including Iowa and Mississippi, require that a person obtain a license to carry a stun gun before buying it. Others, like California, impose age requirements.

Several other states, like New Mexico and Delaware, make a distinction between an open-carry Taser and a concealed weapon, and impose a licensing requirement for concealed carry. Several states make it easy to own a stun gun, but only if the person keeps it on their own property.

Do any states make ownership of a stun gun illegal? Yes, a few states make it illegal for an individual (other than law enforcement) to own a stun gun, including Hawaii and Rhode Island. And two states – Illinois and Maryland – permit the purchase of a stun gun only after the buyer passes a background check.

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