Are Tasers Legal in South Dakota? What You Should Know

When it comes to self-defense weapons, tasers are a choice you might have overlooked before, especially if you don’t want to carry a firearm.

flag of South Dakota
flag of South Dakota

Tasers give you ranged capability greater than pepper spray, and tend to be much more effective at stopping an attacker. They do have some limitations, but they’re completely unique in the realm of civilian self-defense weapons, and a whole lot less dangerous to boot.

Unfortunately, tasers are not legal everywhere and every state has its own laws governing them. How about South Dakota? Are tasers legal in South Dakota?

Yes, tasers are legal for civilian possession and carry in South Dakota. You don’t need a concealed weapons permit to carry one as long as you’re only caring it for a lawful purpose of self-defense.

Strangely there’s a lot of misinformation out there concerning tasers in South Dakota. I’ve seen them reported as being the legal equivalent of firearms and a whole lot more.

I’m happy to clear the air: they are totally legal for civilian self-defense and barely regulated. As long as you aren’t carrying them with the intention of committing a crime, you’ll have no issues obtaining or possessing one. Keep reading I’ll tell you a lot more.

How are Tasers Classified in South Dakota?

Tasers broadly fit under the South Dakota definition of “stun gun,” which itself falls under the definition of “dangerous weapon.”

A “stun gun” is defined as any battery-powered electrical device that produces high voltage and low amperage capable of disrupting the muscular control of a person.

Next, a “dangerous weapon” is defined as a stun gun (among other weapons) capable of or designed for inflicting death or serious bodily harm. Obviously, a taser does fit both of those definitions but that doesn’t mean they are regulated in the same way as firearms.

This will be important later, so also take a look at the definition of “concealed” under 22-1-2 and you’ll see that it specifically refers to firearms, not dangerous weapons.

22-1-2. Definitions.

Terms used in this title mean:

(6)”Concealed,” any firearm that is totally hidden from view. If any part of the firearm is capable of being seen, it is not concealed;

(10)”Dangerous weapon” or “deadly weapon,” any firearm, stun gun, knife, or device, instrument, material, or substance, whether animate or inanimate, which is calculated or designed to inflict death or serious bodily harm, or by the manner in which it is used is likely to inflict death or serious bodily harm;

(50)”Stun gun,” any battery-powered, pulsed electrical device of high voltage and low or no amperage that can disrupt the central nervous system and cause temporary loss of voluntary muscle control of a person;

Are Stun Guns Legal in South Dakota?

Yes, stun guns are also completely legal in South Dakota. The state doesn’t delegate any real difference between stun guns and tasers as far as the statutes are concerned, lumping both under the broad categorization of “stun gun,” but you can carry either one legally with no permit needed.

Just to clarify, true stun guns are electroshock weapons that have the electrodes fixed at the front of the unit and must be pressed into contact with an attacker in order to shock them.

Tasers are the type that actually fire the electrodes as darts, connected to the launcher by wires. You’ll sometimes see either term used to describe both (as with SD) in a legal context, so pay attention to those statutes in other states!

Can You Carry a Taser Openly in South Dakota?

Yes, you may open carry a taser legally in South Dakota. As long as you can legally possess a taser, and the device itself is legal, you won’t have any problems.

Can You Carry a Taser Concealed in South Dakota?

Yes, you can. Concealed carry of a taser is likewise legal in South Dakota with no permit required. However, you may only carry one if you’re doing it for a legal purpose. Self-defense is certainly considered a legal purpose.

There’s a specific statute, 22-14-8 which covers the concealment of a dangerous weapon with intent to commit a felony. Doing so is itself a felony!

But, so long as you’re a good guy or good gal and carry your taser for legal purposes only, this does not apply to you, and at 22-1-8 clarifies that any act not prohibited by statutes is not a criminal act.

Carry your taser without worry in South Dakota!

22-14-8. Concealment of weapon with intent to commit felony—Felony.

Any person who conceals on or about his or her person a controlled or dangerous weapon with intent to commit a felony is guilty of a Class 5 felony.

22-1-8. Act not deemed criminal unless prohibited by statute.

No act or omission may be deemed criminal or punishable except as prescribed or authorized by this title or by some other statute of this state.

Any Age Restrictions on Taser Ownership or Possession in South Dakota?

No, not statutorily, but typically you must be at least 18 years old to purchase a taser or stun gun in South Dakota.

What Do You Need to Do to Purchase a Taser?

If you want to buy a Taser or a stun gun in South Dakota, all you need to do is head to a dealer that stocks them.

They are typically found in gun shops, security supply stores, police supply stores and sometimes in nicely equipped sporting goods stores that have a large complement of self-defense equipment.

Usually you can buy an actual stun gun simply by showing your ID and proving your age, but a taser will require a background check and the registration of the device to you so that it can be entered into the database kept by the manufacturer. That’s because each taser device, at least the ones sold by Axon, and its cartridges are serialized to help track criminal misuse.

Is Training Mandatory for Taser Ownership in South Dakota?

No. You don’t have to undergo any special training in order to buy or carry a taser or stun gun in South Dakota. Note that training is mandatory in order to get a concealed weapons permit, but you don’t have to have a concealed weapons permit to carry either in the state.

Where Can You Carry a Taser in South Dakota?

You can carry a taser anywhere that weapons can legally go in the state. They can also go some places where firearms are specifically forbidden.

That being said, you still can’t carry your taser into any government building, be it local, state or federal in nature, into any public school, or into the secured area of any airport or other sensitive installation.

And of course, as always, you cannot carry your taser into any courtroom or courthouse, and that includes courthouse annex buildings. You also cannot carry your taser into the state capitol. See 13-32-7 and 22-14-23 for more.

13-32-7. Possession of firearm or dangerous weapon on public elementary or secondary school premises or in vehicle or building as misdemeanor—Exceptions.

Any person, other than a law enforcement officer or school sentinel under § 13-64-1, who intentionally carries, possesses, stores, keeps, leaves, places, or puts into the possession of another person, any dangerous weapon, firearm, or air gun, whether or not the firearm or air gun is designed, adapted, used, or intended to be used primarily for imitative or noisemaking purposes, on or in any public elementary or secondary school premises, vehicle, or building, or on or in any premises, vehicle, or building used or leased for public elementary or secondary school functions, whether or not any person is endangered by any action under this section, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The provisions of this section do not apply to:

(3) Any nonpublic school;

(4) Any church or other house of worship; or

(5) Any nonpublic school located on the premises of a church or

other house of worship.

22-14-23. Possession in county courthouse or state capitol—Misdemeanor.

Except as provided in §22-14-24, any person who knowingly possesses or causes to be present any firearm or other dangerous weapon, in any county courthouse or in the state capitol, or attempts to do so, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

When Can You Use a Taser to Defend Yourself in South Dakota?

The only time you should ever use a stun gun or taser on someone in South Dakota is if you genuinely need to defend yourself from unlawful force.

Specifically, because tasers are categorized as “dangerous weapons” (stun gun) and capable of inflicting death or great bodily injury, the only unlawful force that warrants the use of a taser is if someone is threatening you with the possibility of death or great bodily injury.

Because of that, you should never use your taser on someone that has merely insulted you or is harassing you, or in the case of simple battery like a shove or push, or if someone throws a drink in your face or something like that.

Using your taser irresponsibly or in any unlawful way will entail serious felony charges in South Dakota, so remember that!

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