The taser is an underappreciated and often underutilized self-defense tool for civilians. When it comes to intermediate or less-than-lethal force, pepper spray rules the roost.
Guns are the obvious choice when lethal force is required in defense, but tasers provide unique capability that no other tool can provide.
The taser can provide the standoff capability of a firearm and, deployed properly, decisive effectiveness but they only rarely cause significant injury to the target.
This makes them the ideal or sometimes only choice for some folks, but the uniqueness of these devices means that laws vary quite a lot from state to state.
Regardless, if you want to make use of a taser in your self-defense repertoire you’ll need to know what they are. Today we are looking at Ohio’s taser laws…
Are Tasers Legal in Ohio?
Yes. Tasers are perfectly legal in Ohio along with stun guns and other less than lethal electric self-defense weapons.
Aside from overarching laws regarding the criminal use of these devices directly in a crime or in the furtherance of other crimes, there are hardly any specific regulations on tasers and similar devices by name.
Citizens have the right to purchase these tools over the counter, to carry them any place they may lawfully go, and to use them in self-defense.
However, it’s worth mentioning that Ohio’s statutes concerning the classification of deadly weapons might apply to tasers depending on the circumstances, and any taser use that results in serious bodily harm or death to the assailant will mean it is, through its usage, a deadly weapon.
This ambiguity is good up front for citizens because it means tasers are easy to get and easy to carry, subject to none of the same restrictions that firearms are for the most part.
On the other hand, the fact that tasers are not precisely defined or codified in the Ohio state statutes means that they’re use, in the aftermath of a defensive encounter, will be in something of a gray area.
How Does Ohio Define a Taser?
Ohio does not explicitly define what a taser is, and just as importantly what it isn’t.
If you care to review the definitions found in section 2923.11 of the Ohio Revised Code you will see the tasers don’t readily fall under the definition of deadly weapon, defined as any instrument device or thing capable of inflicting death and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed carried or used as a weapon.
Tasers aren’t designed to inflict death – quite the contrary – but folks have died as a direct result of being taxed. And then, the definition explains that anything that is possessed carried or used as a weapon is a deadly weapon.
A taser is certainly possessed and carried as a defensive weapon, but does this mean it’s a deadly weapon?
If you keep reading, you’ll see that taser does not neatly fit under the State’s definition of firearm, explosive device, dangerous ordinance, or anything else.
Tasers are what they are, but the State of Ohio has not taken the time to precisely to define this and integrate that definition into the state statutes.
Again, they are legal in the state, without question as they are sold freely, but this lack of legal codification is worrying.
Be sure to read the included definitions from the aforementioned statute yourself below:
Section 2923.11 | Weapons Control Definitions.
As used in sections 2923.11 to 2923.24 of the Revised Code:
(A) “Deadly weapon” means any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon.
Can You Carry a Taser Openly in Ohio?
Yes. It is legal to carry a taser openly in the State of Ohio.
So long as you are not threatening or intimidating anyone with your taser, or brandishing it in a provocative way, you may carry your taser openly anywhere that you are legally, lawfully allowed to do so.
Can You Carry a Taser Concealed in Ohio?
Yes, but with caution. Although a taser does not fall squarely under the definition of it deadly weapon, the state does have a statute concerning the carrying of concealed weapons in 2923.12.
Within, it states that no person shall knowingly carry or have, concealed honor about their person, any deadly weapon other than a handgun.
No, there is an exception, of course, for anyone carrying a weapon kept at the ready for defensive purposes while going to or from their lawful business or other occupation if the manner of said business renders the person carrying susceptible to criminal attack.
There’s also an exception if the weapon was kept ready by the person engaged in any lawful activity we had a reasonable cause to fear criminal attack upon themselves or a family member.
That seems simply enough, and after all, tasers aren’t deadly weapons in Ohio, right? Not so fast!
In recent years, officials for the Ohio attorney general’s office have been quoted as disputing whether or not stun guns, and from this it can be reasonably inferred tasers also, are capable of inflicting death…
Following that line of logic, anything that is capable of inflicting death could be classified as a deadly weapon, and then accordingly fall under the precepts of 2923.12.
This is what I was alluding to when I mentioned that tasers exist in a sort of gray area among civilian weapons and otherwise self-defense-friendly Ohio.
Read the relevant parts of the statute for yourself below:
Section 2923.12 | Carrying Concealed Weapons.
(A) No person shall knowingly carry or have, concealed on the person’s person or concealed ready at hand, any of the following:
(1) A deadly weapon other than a handgun;
(D) It is an affirmative defense to a charge under division (A)(1) of this section of carrying or having control of a weapon other than a handgun and other than a dangerous ordnance that the actor was not otherwise prohibited by law from having the weapon and that any of the following applies:
(1) The weapon was carried or kept ready at hand by the actor for defensive purposes while the actor was engaged in or was going to or from the actor’s lawful business or occupation, which business or occupation was of a character or was necessarily carried on in a manner or at a time or place as to render the actor particularly susceptible to criminal attack, such as would justify a prudent person in going armed.
(2) The weapon was carried or kept ready at hand by the actor for defensive purposes while the actor was engaged in a lawful activity and had reasonable cause to fear a criminal attack upon the actor, a member of the actor’s family, or the actor’s home, such as would justify a prudent person in going armed.
(3) The weapon was carried or kept ready at hand by the actor for any lawful purpose and while in the actor’s own home.
Where Can You Carry a Taser in Ohio?
You can nominally carry a taser anywhere you have a legal, lawful right to be in Ohio, whether it is concealed or unconcealed. Note that all of this assumes that tasers do not meet the definition of deadly weapon as described in the statute above.
Places you definitely should not take your taser include:
- the inside of any courtroom,
- inside any meeting that by law must be open to the public,
- inside any government building at the city, county, state or federal level,
- and inside or on the property of any school, university, a grade school, or any other educational facility.
Likewise, think twice before carrying your taser in any venue that has posted no weapons signage. Although such posted signage may or may not have the backing of state law, if discovered you might be trespassed at the least.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Own a Taser in Ohio?
According to the Ohio State statutes, anybody can be in possession of a taser. But, it is reasonable to expect that no retailer will sell a taser to anyone under 18 years of age.
Are Any Persons Restricted from Carrying a Taser in Ohio?
This is another nebulous area owing to the shaky classification of tasers in Ohio.
However, I feel confident in asserting that no one who has a felony record, has a record of any misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or assault, or anyone who has previously been convicted of misusing a taser or other less-than-lethal weapon can it legally possess a taser in Ohio.
However, if this describes you, and you’ve turned your life around for the better, I would highly recommend consulting an attorney fluent in self-defense and civil rights law in the state to better advise you of the legalities of possession (if you do have a criminal record and have not had that record expunged or your civil rights restored).
When Can You Use a Taser in Ohio for Self-Defense?
So, in Ohio tasers are not classified, for the most part, as deadly weapons and indeed for anyone familiar with how tasers operate they are explicitly intended to be less than lethal weapons, and accordingly are considered a much lower grade of force when it comes to self-defense.
The hallmark of responsible, ethical self-defense is that the amount of force you use is always proportional to the threat, that is the unlawful force, being used or threatened against you.
For this reason, we can safely say that the use of a taser is definitely justified if you’re facing any threat of death or great bodily injury from your assailant.
Likewise, if someone was threatening to beat you up with fists or feet the use of the taser is it likewise probably justified if you can reasonably articulate that that beating was imminent and genuine.
But you cannot do is use your taser to settle an argument, use it in response to an insult or harassment, or use it to retaliate against someone who has committed simple battery, e.g. sprayed you with water, thrown a drink in your face, etc.
And remember this, ultimately: every single action you take in a self-defense situation will be judged by a judge and jury at their leisure in the aftermath.
It’s entirely possible that you tazing someone could lead to a substantial injury for them, injury out of all proportion with the shock they receive.
If the target falls down and cracks their head or breaks a limb, you will be directly responsible for that. Remember that tazing someone, when it works, deprives them of the ability to control their body for a time!
Are there Any Other Laws Concerning Tasers to Know about in Ohio?
Yes. Although they do not mention tasers directly, it’s in everyone’s best interest to circle back to section 2923.12 of the Ohio Revised Code and read everything pertinent about the carrying of concealed weapons because they might, at the end of the day, apply to tasers (until we have a body of case law precedent to rely upon or until Ohio further clarifies and codifies the laws on the books).
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.