Self-defense is no joke, and the biggest part of being prepared to defend yourself, after mindset and training, is having the right tools for the job.
Guns and knives are popular weapons for the purpose, of course, but they’re always considered lethal force and that’s the wrong answer if your self-defense question does not call for it.
Tasers are becoming an increasingly popular option for civilian self-defense because they are a great intermediate solution to self-defense problems.
Tasers are highly effective and can provide a ranged option when you can’t quite justify using lethal force yet.
But every state has its own laws concerning tasers in civilian hands, and you’ll need to understand them if you want to carry one responsibly.
Keep reading, and I’ll tell you what you need to know about Maryland’s taser laws…
Are Tasers Legal in Maryland?
Yes, tasers are legal in Maryland as long as someone is 18 years old or older, and has not been convicted of any felonies or violent misdemeanor crimes.
Also, anyone who is purchasing a taser in Maryland must submit to a background check and pass it before taking possession of it.
Is also worth mentioning that local county and city laws can be considerably more stringent than the state laws concerning tasers and similar electrical weapons.
For instance, in Ocean City, Maryland you cannot carry a taser outside of your own home…
How Does Maryland Define a Taser?
Maryland has a unique classification for tasers, and defines them under the somewhat broader category of “electronic control devices.”
The definition is explained in section 4-109 of the state statutes, and is broadly defined as any portable device, intended to be used as a weapon, that’s capable of engineering, immobilizing or afflicting pain on a person through the discharge of electricity.
Tasers definitely fall into this category, but also common stun guns will as well.
Although the terms are commonly confused in common parlance, tasers are ranged devices that affect a target by embedding electrical probes with trailing leads back to the device before transmitting a current to the target.
A stun gun only works at close contact distance by zapping a person when the electrodes are touched to their skin when the device is activated.
Though very different in function and effectiveness, with tasers being dramatically more effective because they disrupt the muscular system of the target, you should note that Maryland generally classifies these devices as the same thing under the statutes…
Section 4-109 – Electronic Control Device
(1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.
(2) “Crime of violence” has the meaning stated in § 14–101 of this article.
(3) “Electronic control device” means a portable device designed as a weapon capable of injuring, immobilizing, or inflicting pain on an individual by the discharge of electrical current.
Can You Carry a Taser Openly in Maryland?
Yes, you can openly carry a taser in Maryland so long as you’re legally in possession of one.
But In Maryland, in order to own a dangerous weapon, a person must be a state or county law enforcement officer or other agent, a concealed handgun permit holder or any individual citizen who’s carrying a weapon as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.
This is something of a tricky subject in the state.
A thorough reading of the state statutes will show that tasers, as electronic control devices, are not categorized or mentioned in the same section, 4-101, as all other dangerous weapons.
Accordingly, they should be free of the restrictions of 4-101 for possession and carry.
However, be aware that Maryland courts have found, and more than once, that the term dangerous weapon can apply to weapons and other objects not listed in 4-101 if they may be used in a deadly or dangerous manner.
This would certainly apply to tasers, so it’s in your best interest to obtain a concealed handgun permit in Maryland, or else if you purchase a taser and carry it without one the reasonableness of your actions may be judged by the court.
Check out 4-101 for yourself below. I’ve included the relevant sections, but make sure to look up and read the whole thing online:
Section 4-101 – Dangerous Weapons
(5) (i) “Weapon” includes a dirk knife, bowie knife, switchblade knife, star knife, sandclub, metal knuckles, razor, and nunchaku.
(ii) “Weapon” does not include:
1. a handgun; or
2. a penknife without a switchblade.
(b) This section does not prohibit the following individuals from carrying a weapon:
(1) an officer of the State, or of any county or municipal corporation of the State, who is entitled or required to carry the weapon as part of the officer’s official equipment, or by any conservator of the peace, who is entitled or required to carry the weapon as part of the conservator’s official equipment, or by any officer or conservator of the peace of another state who is temporarily in this State;
(2) a special agent of a railroad;
(3) a holder of a permit to carry a handgun issued under Title 5, Subtitle 3 of the Public Safety Article; or
(4) an individual who carries the weapon as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger, subject to the right of the court in an action arising under this section to judge the reasonableness of the carrying of the weapon, and the proper occasion for carrying it, under the evidence in the case.
(1) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon of any kind concealed on or about the person.
(2) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon, chemical mace, pepper mace, or a tear gas device openly with the intent or purpose of injuring an individual in an unlawful manner.
Can You Carry a Taser Concealed in Maryland?
Yes, you can carry a taser concealed in Maryland so long as you have a concealed handgun permit.
Ostensibly, you should be allowed to carry a taser conceal without one but the shakiness of the dangerous weapon statute and the seeming at-will categorization of weapons meeting that definition being solely at the discretion of the court, this might be a risky choice.
Likewise, if you’re going to keep a taser in your car, say in the glove box or the center console, I would definitely advocate getting the permit.
Where Can You Carry a Taser in Maryland?
You can carry your taser, assuming it’s legally possessed, anywhere you may carry other self-defense weapons.
This broadly means that you cannot carry it into:
- any county, state or federal level government building,
- into any assembly, hearing or meeting that must be open to the public by law,
- into the sensitive or restricted area of any airport (basically any place that is past the security checkpoint),
- or into any bar or other institution that derives most of its revenue from the sale of alcohol and liquor that is consumed on premises.
Somewhat fuzzier under Maryland law is whether or not less lethal weapons like tasers are allowed on school grounds.
The state has significant laws against the carry of firearms on any school property, of course, and also for other deadly weapons but once again the fuzzy status of electrical control devices like tasers as they pertain to these statutes is up for debate.
I can promise you that you do not want to become a test case, so think long and hard before you decide to carry your taser onto any school grounds or other property.
Also, I highly recommend consulting a confident self-defense attorney in the state for guidance as part of your self-defense planning.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Possess a Taser in Maryland?
You must be at least 18 years old in the State of Maryland to purchase or possess a taser or other electronic control device.
Is Anyone Restricted from Carrying a Taser in Maryland?
Yes. Anyone under the age of 18 cannot purchase or possess a taser, nor any person who has been convicted of a felony, or of any crime of violence whether misdemeanor or felony, according to sections 5-602, 5-603, 5-604, 5-605, 5-606, 5-613 and 5-614.
You can check all this out for yourself in section 4-109 covering electronic control devices.
When Can You Use a Taser in Maryland for Self-Defense?
In Maryland you can only use your taser on another person in a legitimate self-defense scenario. That means the use of the taser must be proportional to the unlawful force that you’re being threatened with.
Certainly if anyone is threatening you with great bodily harm or death, the use of the taser is justified. But, it’s when you aren’t facing the risk of great bodily harm or death that things get a little trickier…
Generally, if someone is going to seriously harm you physically, the use of the taser will be justified.
Someone is threatening to beat you up, punch you, kick you, stomp you, you are probably justified in tazing them if you can’t get away or if they don’t leave you alone.
You aren’t justified in tazing someone if they insult you, push you or commit some other act of simple assault or battery.
Remember, tasers can sometimes inflict serious injury or even death as a direct consequence of their employment, so these things aren’t toys!
You can never use your taser to settle an argument or because you’re mad at someone. Doing so will result in a felony charge against you.
Any Other Laws Concerning Tasers to Know about in Maryland?
Yes. Maryland law mandates that any electronic control device, including tasers may not be sold or activated inside the state unless it is sold with an instructional manual or accompanying audio visual instructions, if the manufacturer retains a record of the original owner and if the purchaser submits to a background check that is maintained by the manufacturer or the seller.
It should be noted that anyone who violates the requirements of this section, 4-109 paragraph (c), will be guilty of a misdemeanor and if convicted imprisoned for up to 2 months and find $500.
Also you will note in paragraph (f) of the same section that the state law in no way prohibits any local government from adopting even stricter laws about civilian possession of electronic control devices.
For this reason, you must thoroughly investigate county and city laws where you live and work before you commit to carrying your taser!
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.