Are Tasers Legal in New York? What You Should Know

There’s hardly anything more aggravating and more demoralizing than byzantine, tyrannical laws. And when I think about a state that’s absolutely synonymous with excessive legislation, I always think of New York.

flag of New York
flag of New York

New York has so many laws they have to be able to reach the Moon and back. Worse yet, New York’s laws are constantly being challenged, struck down, rewritten, rewritten, and then rewritten again…

This makes following the law very difficult for the average citizen, and it’s never more so than when it comes to weapons. Even something like a taser is heavily regulated in the Empire State. Are Tasers even legal in New York?

Yes, tasers and stun guns are technically legal for the moment in New York since a federal court overruled the state’s blanket ban on these devices. New Yorkers can buy, own, and carry tasers and stun guns, though the statutes in question remain on the books.

Tasers occupy a decidedly dodgy space in New York right now. Since a federal court overruled the state statutes on both back in 2019, New Yorkers have been snapping the things up left and right.

But it’s troubling because New York has left the offending laws on the books, even though they aren’t, technically. This is very troubling for a host of reasons, and I’ll warn you now it is subject to change at any time.

In the meantime, you should learn everything you can about the taser situation in New York. Keep reading…

How are Tasers Classified in New York?

Tasers have a specific classification in the New York State statutes, and a specific definition found in 265.00.

Tasers are broadly defined as “electronic dart guns,” meaning any device designed and intended as a weapon which can stun or paralyze a person through the means of electric shock administered via a dart or other projectile.

I’d say that’s a pretty good description of a Taser. Read the exact text of the definition for yourself below.

265.00 Definitions

15-a. “Electronic dart gun” means any device designed primarily as a weapon, the purpose of which is to momentarily stun, knock out or paralyze a person by passing an electrical shock to such person by means of a dart or projectile.

Are Stun Guns Legal in New York?

Stun guns are legal in New York in the same way that tasers are at the moment: tentatively. Although the unconstitutional statutes that New York has had on the books forever were only recently struck down in 2019, at press time stun guns and tasers can both be purchased, possessed, and carried by New York citizenry.

It’s worth noting, though, but New York is one of seemingly few states that cares enough to give each of these distinct electroshock weapons its own definition. For most practical matters concerning the law, they are interchangeable, but make sure you familiarize yourself with the definition of “electronic stun gun” below.

265.00 Definitions

15-c. “Electronic stun gun” means any device designed primarily as a weapon, the purpose of which is to stun, cause mental disorientation, knock out or paralyze a person by passing a high voltage electrical shock to such person.

Can You Carry a Taser Openly in New York?

Possibly. The laws that are currently on the books concerning tasers and stun guns in New York are essentially considered unenforceable, though that only applies at the state level. Many municipalities, most particularly NY City and Buffalo, have their own laws concerning Tasers…

So, while you can nominally purchase, possess, and carry one right now I don’t know if carrying it openly is actually legally permissible or even a good idea. Make sure you check out section 265.01 of the New York statutes in the following section.

Can You Carry a Taser Concealed in New York?

Possibly. Just like carrying a taser openly, we know that the laws are presently unenforceable even though the situation is still evolving quickly. At the state level, at least, you can probably safely conceal carry a taser.

But once again, be sure to check municipal and city laws before you commit to that course of action, because those are likely still in force one way or the other!

And you can see those laws that remain on the books for yourself below and 265.01 below. Note how in paragraph 1 the mere possession of an electronic dart gun or electronic stun gun is considered criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

265.01 Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when:

(1) He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or

slungshot, shirken, or “Kung Fu star”;

(2) He or she possesses any dagger, dangerous knife, dirk, machete, razor, stiletto, imitation pistol, undetectable knife or any other dangerous or deadly instrument or weapon with intent to use the same unlawfully against another;

Age Restrictions on Taser Ownership or Possession in NY

Yes. You have to be at least 18 years old or older to legally purchase or possess a taser in New York.

What Do You Need to Do to Buy a Taser in New York?

If you want to purchase a taser or stun gun in New York, you’ll first need to find a dealer that has them in stock. Typically, a good gun store, sporting goods store, or security supply shop will have them.

You will need to complete a background check, and that means your background has to be free of felonies, domestic misdemeanors, juvenile delinquency, and various other disqualifying factors.

Note that if you’re disqualified from possessing firearms, you’re certainly disqualified from owning a taser. Illegal possession of a taser or stun gun is a significant crime in and of itself in New York, and potentially far worse in some cities such as the Big Apple.

Is Training Mandatory for Taser Ownership in New York?

No, not at press time. However, you need to investigate this matter because the laws are subject to change quickly and without notice. As a reminder, the only reason that Tasers and stun guns are presently legal in New York is because of a federal court decision striking down the blanket ban on the devices in the state.

New York has not removed the statutes specifying possession of either device as a crime, so they might be amended or added to…

Where Can You Carry a Taser in New York?

Currently, you should be able to carry a taser anywhere that weapons can legally or lawfully go in New York, but that’s not saying much. Many counties and cities in New York have their own, strict regulations about where weapons can go and what rights property owners have in regards to keeping them off of their properties and out of their businesses.

Broadly speaking, you cannot carry your taser:

  • onto any public transit system,
  • into any government building,
  • into any public or private business that has a sign barring weapons,
  • into the secured area of any airport,
  • or into any school or on to any school property.

However, there is a notable exception concerning schools found in 265.06. If you get written authorization to possess your taser or stun gun on school grounds from the institution, then you may legally carry it. Again, make sure you check the local laws on the matter! 265.06 is a state-level law!

265.06 Unlawful possession of a weapon upon school grounds.

It shall be unlawful for any person age sixteen or older to knowingly possess any air-gun, spring-gun or other instrument or weapon in which the propelling force is a spring, air, piston or CO2 cartridge in or upon a building or grounds, used for educational purposes, of any school, college or university, without the written authorization of such educational institution.

When Can You Use a Taser to Defend Yourself in New York?

Only in case of a genuine threat against your life or one that might result in great bodily harm.

Tasers can never be used lightly, as it despite being a less lethal weapon there is always the possibility that they might cause death or great bodily injury. Misuse of a taser or stun gun in New York was and remains a significant crime. See 265.35 below.

265.35 Prohibited use of weapons.

3. Any person who, otherwise than in self defense or in the discharge of official duty, (a) willfully discharges any species of firearms, air-gun or other weapon, or throws any other deadly missile, either in a public place, or in any place where there is any person to be endangered thereby, or, in Putnam county, within one-quarter mile of any occupied school building other than under supervised instruction by properly authorized instructors although no injury to any person ensues; (…) is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

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