Are Tasers Legal in Washington D.C.? What You Should Know

Tasers are some of the most unique self-defense weapons you can get, and they are certainly one of the most effective less lethal weapons.

flag of Washington DC
flag of Washington DC

Compared to guns, the chances of causing major injury or death are quite low, but they’re still proven effective if you manage to connect with one.

Unfortunately, despite decades of law enforcement use now, tasers are still heavily restricted in some areas, and including some states where you wouldn’t expect.

One place you would expect restrictions is in Washington DC, being so notoriously against self-defense and guns in particular. So, are Tasers legal in Washington DC?

Yes, tasers and stun guns are illegal in Washington D.C. They may be bought, possessed and used for self-defense by anyone who is 18 years old or older. However, you cannot carry one in any government building or property.

Are you surprised? You should be! DC is quite a bit friendlier towards tasers than you might expect- especially based on their track record on firearms.

Tasers and stun guns are easy to get and easy to carry in DC, and this makes them a highly attractive option if you want a straightforward acquisition process compared to a handgun.

However, there are many places that you cannot carry your taser or stun gun into, and there are plenty of other laws you’ll need to know about. I’ll tell you about all of that down below…

How are Tasers Classified in Washington D.C.?

Tasers are classed as “stun guns,” which DC defines as any device designed, redesigned or used offensively or defensively in order to immobilize or incapacitate a person using electric current.

This is a pretty broad definition that includes not only tasers but true stun guns, as you might think. Read the definition for yourself in 7-2501.01 below. Also note that “stun guns” do not fall under the category of firearm in Washington DC as the definition will show readily.

7-2501.01. Definitions.

As used in this unit the term:

(9) “Firearm” means any weapon, regardless of operability, which will, or is designed or redesigned, made or remade, readily converted, restored, or repaired, or is intended to, expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosive; the frame or receiver of any such device; or any firearm muffler or silencer; provided, that such term shall not include:

(E) A stun gun.

(17A) “Stun gun” means any device designed or redesigned, made or remade, or readily converted or restored, and used or intended to be used offensively or defensively to immobilize or incapacitate a person by the use of electric current or audible, optical, or electromagnetic pulse.

Are Stun Guns Legal in Washington D.C.?

Yes, stun guns are legal in the same way that tasers are in Washington DC.

Note that even though DC doesn’t give these devices a separate definition, practically speaking, they are different: tasers fire their electrodes as barbed darts whereas stun guns do not and must physically be touched to the target in order to work.

But for your purposes, whichever one you buy, remember that the DC laws will apply to both of them equally! There’s nowhere that a stun gun or a taser wouldn’t be able to go and vice versa…

Can You Open Carry a Taser in D.C.?

No, or at least nominally not. Open carry of firearms is not allowed in Washington DC, and although the statutes are somewhat less clear on tasers and stun guns, it is presumed that the open carry of anything that might be considered a weapon- which tasers are- is forbidden.

Can You Conceal Carry a Taser in Washington D.C.?

Yes. You can legally carry your taser concealed in Washington DC anywhere that weapons can go so long as it is legal.

A concealed weapons permit is not required. But, as mentioned, there are many places in Washington DC where you cannot carry a taser or a stun gun, whether or not it is concealed.

We’ll talk more about these restricted places in the following sections.

Are there Age Restrictions on Taser Ownership or Possession?

Yes, there are. You must be at least 18 in order to purchase, possess and carry a taser in a Washington DC. The only exception is in the brief possession in case of desperate self-defense when responding to an immediate threat.

There’s a specific paragraph covering the legal age of possession in 7-2502.15.

7-2502.15. Possession of stun guns.

(a) No person under 18 years of age shall possess a stun gun in the District; provided, that brief possession for self-defense in response to an immediate threat of harm shall not be a violation of this subsection.

What Do You Need to Do to Purchase a Taser in D.C.?

If you want to purchase a taser or a stun gun anywhere in DC, you’ll need to locate a dealer and then follow their instructions. Generally, a taser specifically will require the submission of your personal information and a copy of your ID along with a background check.

Note that if you have any felony or substantial misdemeanor criminal charges in your background, or any crimes of domestic violence, you cannot legally possess a taser or a stun gun in DC.

Also worth pointing out that sellers of stun guns and tasers in DC are regulated if they sell more than five a year, requiring a special endorsement on their business license as detailed in 7-2502.16. For this reason, I highly recommend you purchase only from vetted, trustworthy sellers.

7-2502.16. Sale of stun guns.

(a) In order to lawfully sell a stun gun in the District, a vendor shall obtain pursuant to § 47-2851.03 a stun gun endorsement on its basic business license from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (“Department”) on a form to be provided by the Department.

(b) This section shall not apply to a vendor who sells fewer than 5 stun guns in a 12- month period.

Is Training Mandatory for Taser Ownership in Washington D.C.?

No. Training is not mandatory in order to purchase, possess or carry a taser or a stun gun in Washington dc. And since a concealed weapons permit is not required, you won’t have to undergo any training to obtain that either.

Where Can You Carry a Taser in Washington D.C.?

There are many places you cannot carry a taser in dc, with the most obvious, of course, being any government building, office or what the statute calls instrumentality. That is, unless you are a law enforcement officer as defined in 7-2509.01.

You also cannot carry your taser into any penal institution, juvenile residential facility, halfway house, children’s facility, preschool, public or private elementary or secondary school or into any building that an owner or occupant has posted against the carrying of stun guns in any way.

You’ll find that Washington DC is a highly restricted environment when it comes to the carry of weapons, and you’ll be navigating constantly moving standards in this regard.

7-2502.15. Possession of stun guns.

(c) Unless permission specific to the individual and occasion is given, no person, except a law enforcement officer as defined in § 7-2509.01, shall possess a stun gun in the following locations:

(1) A building or office occupied by the District of Columbia, its agencies, or instrumentalities;

(2) A penal institution, secure juvenile residential facility, or halfway house;

(3) A building or portion thereof, occupied by a children’s facility, preschool, or public or private elementary or secondary school; or

(4) Any building or grounds clearly posted by the owner or occupant to prohibit the carrying of a stun gun.

When Can You Use a Taser to Defend Yourself in Washington D.C.?

The only time you’re allowed to use a taser or stun gun on someone and it Washington DC is in case you need to defend yourself or property. That’s it.

Broadly speaking, this means you can only use it in cases of legitimate self-defense, and more specifically instances that are likely to result in your own death or serious bodily injury. See 7-22502.15.

7-2502.15. Possession of stun guns.

(b) No person who possesses a stun gun shall use that weapon except in the exercise of reasonable force in defense of person or property.

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