Tasers are a great option for self-defense if you need an intermediate force tool that can still provide you with range and will effectively drop or disable and assailant with minimal risk of serious injury.
There’s a good reason why law enforcement relies on these tools, and increasingly, citizens are reaching for them also to cover gaps in their self-defense plan.
However, especially when compared against guns, tasers are classified vary differently from state to state, and accordingly, the state laws governing civilian ownership, possession and carry of these weapons can likewise vary.
Today, we’ll be looking at the taser laws in Illinois, and I warn you they’re a bit of a mess! Keep reading, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know…
Are Tasers Legal in Illinois?
Tasers are broadly legal in Illinois, but it’s unclear whether or not you can carry them publicly.
Right up front, a little late residents and visitors should know that prior to 2019 Illinois had a standing, wholesale ban on the carry of tasers and stun guns according to 720 ILCS 5/24-1.
The Illinois Supreme Court found this blanket ban on constitutional and challenged it, but did not cite the specific provisions which prevented the public carry of these devices.
Accordingly, it’s unknown whether or not a legal challenge against the unconstitutionality of the aforementioned law will hold up in court.
It is likely, but not certain, and until such time as the statutes are amended, I would strongly caution any resident that has a legally purchased and possessed taser from carrying it in public.
Presently, the statute above and specifically subsection (a)(4) mentions that any person who possesses or carries on or about their person or in a vehicle any taser except when they are in their own abode or on their own land, at or on their place of business, or in the dwelling or on the land of another person as an invitee and with permission commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons.
The relevant text from the statute will be included below verbatim.
However, assuming you can abide by that restriction even if it’s just out of an abundance of caution, you may legally purchase a taser in the state of Illinois.
You’ll need an Illinois Firearm Owners’ Identification Card (FOID), and must be able to pass a background check, then wait 24 hours before taking home the taser.
Anyone in possession of a taser without having acquired it through legal channels commits a substantial felony.
For instance, if you possess one without a valid FOID card, you can be fine up to $75,000 and be facing anywhere from 5 to 10 years in prison.
Even an academic violation, say if you have a valid FOID card but it is expired, it is a serious misdemeanor and you can be fine up to $2,500 or sentenced to one year in prison, or both.
Sec. 24-1. Unlawful use of weapons.
(a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly:
(2) Carries or possesses with intent to use the same unlawfully against another, a dagger, dirk, billy, dangerous knife, razor, stiletto, broken bottle or other piece of glass, stun gun or taser or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character; or
(4) Carries or possesses in any vehicle or concealed on or about his person except when on his land or in his own abode, legal dwelling, or fixed place of business, or on the land or in the legal dwelling of another person as an invitee with that person’s permission, any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm, except that this subsection (a)(4) does not apply to or affect transportation of weapons that meet one of the following conditions:
(i) are broken down in a non-functioning state; or
(ii) are not immediately accessible; or
(iii) are unloaded and enclosed in a case, firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container by a person who has been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card; or
(iv) are carried or possessed in accordance with the Firearm Concealed Carry Act by a person who has been issued a currently valid license under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act; or
How Does Illinois Define a Taser?
As you might expect, Illinois has an extremely lengthy definition for taser, lumping it into the statutory definition of “stun gun or taser”.
A taser is defined as any device powered by electricity which fires barbs that are attached to wires, and upon it striking a human target send out an electrical current that will disrupt the target’s nervous system in a manner to render them incapable of normal function.
This definition is buried in section 24-1 of 720 ILCS, included verbatim for your convenience below:
Sec. 24-1. Unlawful use of weapons.
A “stun gun or taser”, as used in this paragraph (a) means (i) any device which is powered by electrical charging units, such as, batteries, and which fires one or several barbs attached to a length of wire and which, upon hitting a human, can send out a current capable of disrupting the person’s nervous system in such a manner as to render him incapable of normal functioning or (ii) any device which is powered by electrical charging units, such as batteries, and which, upon contact with a human or clothing worn by a human, can send out current capable of disrupting the person’s nervous system in such a manner as to render him incapable of normal functioning;
Can You Carry a Taser Openly in Illinois?
At current time, not in public. As mentioned, it is legal to possess and openly carry a taser if you are on private property that belongs to you or the private property of another if you have explicit permission of the property owner.
You probably cannot safely carry any taser openly in public whether or not you’re in your vehicle or on foot.
Can You Carry a Taser Concealed in Illinois?
No, not in public, or at least you cannot yet do so safely, pending revision of the relevant statues in accordance with the Illinois Supreme Court ruling.
You may concealed carry a taser on your own private property, at your business, or at the private property of another if you have the property owner’s explicit permission.
Otherwise, you cannot conceal carry a taser in public on or about your person or concealed inside a vehicle.
Where Can You Carry a Taser in Illinois?
Right now, if you want to be cautious, only on your private property or the private property of another person who is giving you explicit permission to do so. This includes in your vehicle.
But, let us assume that the Supreme Court’s ruling would hold up in its totality if challenged. What are some places that are explicitly off limits, still?
You could not carry your taser into any courthouse, into any county, state or federal government buildings, into any school or college, and to any public gathering where admission is charged, into any venue of any kind that sells alcoholic beverages, into a public park or onto public transit.
Also, you cannot carry a taser if you are wearing an identity-concealing mask or other garment. Of course, who knows the constitutionality of that in a post-pandemic-of-unknown-origin world!
How Old Do You Have to Be to Possess a Taser in Illinois?
Nominally 21 years old or older with a valid FOID card.
However, you may be between 18 and 21 years of age if you have a parent’s written consent in your possession and no history of any juvenile convictions…
Is Anyone Restricted from Carrying a Taser in Illinois?
Yes. Any person who does not possess a valid Illinois FOID card is expressly forbidden from possessing a taser for any purpose.
Also as you might expect, any person with a felony criminal background, or any person who has committed any crime involving assault or domestic violence may not own a taser in Illinois.
One really goes before the other because you typically cannot get an FOID card with such convictions on your background, but that is the law.
When Can You Use a Taser in Illinois for Self-Defense?
Assuming you have a taser and you’re absolutely legal wherever you happen to be carrying it, it is possible to use a taser in self-defense assuming the use of the taser, and force in general, is justified under Illinois law.
A thorough discussion of self-defense law is beyond the confines of this article, but generally you can use your taser to stop the unlawful use of force against yourself as long as the use of the taser is proportional to the threat.
Obviously any unlawful threat against you that entails the imminent, reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury would warrant the use of the taser.
Similarly, a significant level of non deadly force, to include punching and kicking might warrant the use of the taser.
You cannot use your taser to settle an argument or because someone insulted you, and you cannot deploy your taser against anyone who merely committed simple battery, e.g. throwing a drink in your face or spraying you with water.
Any Other Laws Concerning Tasers to Know About in Illinois?
Yes, of course! The unconstitutional laws never end in Illinois…
A particular concern to taser owners, and really anyone in possession of an FOID card, is Illinois instituted version of what is commonly referred to as a red flag law.
Under the provisions of this law, if a court issues a firearms restraining order against any FOID card holder who is alleged to pose a danger to themselves or others this person would have to surrender their FOID card along with any owned firearms.
The statute does not say anything about tasers.
However, because the FOID card must be surrendered a person would, defacto, be in illegal possession of a taser, because they lack a valid FOID card at the time.
Accordingly, though you might not have to surrender the taser to the authorities taking your guns, you could not be in possession of the taser any longer until your FOID and civil rights were restored.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.