Is it Legal to Use Stun Guns and Tasers in Pennsylvania?
Many people have guns in the United States, but stun guns and tasers have also risen in popularity as well as non-lethal alternatives. Across the country, major cities have seen surges in stun gun purchases in particular. But what about Pennsylvania? Are stun guns and tasers legal in PA, and what is the law surrounding them?
While they don’t have the same lethal capacity as guns, they don’t have the same strict laws either. This means there are several vague rules about how people are allowed to purchase, carry, and use them. This can lead to a legal investigation if someone is caught with one or has to use one.
If you fear being charged for owning or using a stun gun or taser in PA, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam.
What is a Stun Gun and/or a Taser?
While both weapons are known for using electricity to stun someone, they are also known for being non-lethal weapons. This is not where the similarities end. By definition, stun guns are weapons that use a painful shock to stop someone from attacking you. Tasers are a type of stun gun that use projectile prongs that attach to the target and shock them. This means that not all stun guns are tasers, but all tasers are stun guns.
Typically, the effectiveness of any stun gun or taser depends on the brand, but both have been known to cause heart attacks with prolonged or abusive use. This is where their legal status comes into question.
When is it Legal to Use a Stun Gun in Pa?
The majority of citizens in Pennsylvania can legally purchase, own, and carry a stun gun of any kind without a permit. Unless you are law enforcement, you can only use them for yourself and your property. You can also only use them with a reasonable amount of force.
If you use more than a reasonable amount of force, you can seriously injure or kill someone. If you do so, you can find yourself facing one or many different types of murder charges. Even hurting someone beyond what a law enforcement officer would consider reasonable can see you getting charged with assault for defending yourself.
To use a stun gun as a weapon outside of self-defense is also a misdemeanor. If you use one in an attempt or with the intent to commit another felony, the use of a stun gun will become a felony in PA.
Who Can’t Legally Own a Stun Gun or Taser in PA?
A similarity that stun guns have to typical firearms is that the people who can’t possess or use them are the same people. These people include those who:
- Have been convicted of certain felonies and misdemeanors. People who have been charged and found guilty of domestic violence and driving under the influence are examples of felons who can’t possess firearms. Both felonies show that a person is not trustworthy to keep a firearm, either because they have proven that they pose active or passive harm to themselves and/or others.
- Have been subjected to a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. If someone or their children/dependent has been abused or threatened to be abused by a romantic partner or family member, they file an emergency protection from abuse order with their local clerk. This will grant them a temporary restraining order from their abuser, and assure that the abuser still provide for them if they paid for their food and domicile. This is also known as a domestic violence protection order. If someone has a PFA order against them for being an abuser, they cannot possess a stun gun. They can be relieved of any they own by law enforcement.
- Have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution or found by a court to be incompetent. This doesn’t mean that they have committed a crime but are mentally unfit to be allowed to have such a dangerous weapon. It is not impossible for someone who has been previously mentally unfit to have a stun gun to be fit later on in life.
Contact MVSK Law If You Are Charged for Possessing a Stun Gun In PA
It may be for your self-defense, but stun guns of all kinds are still serious weapons. Law enforcement and the courts may try to paint your situation as something more than self-defense. If this happens, you need a criminal defense attorney to clear your name and prove your innocence.
Everyone has the right to defend themselves and their property as they have to, but with current laws, they also have to prove it was self-defense. Don’t take the risk of trying to prove your innocence by yourself. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam immediately.