You have no doubt heard a lot about Tasers and their use by law enforcement agencies across the U.S. Even so, you might not have thought about owning one.
Regardless, let’s take a look at whether or not a felon can own one.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:
- What to Know About a Taser
- Is a Taser a Firearm?
- State Taser Laws
- What to Know About Owning a Taser
- Taking Precautions
What to Know About a Taser
First, let’s look at exactly what a Taser is.
Developed in the 1960s for use in emergency situations, a Taser is an electroshock weapon that shoots probes connected to wires to deliver electric current to a target.
The term Taser is actually not a name but an abbreviation for Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle (TASER) taken from a science fiction novel.
A Taser isn’t intended to kill a person because the voltage used is not high enough to be deadly.
The current used in a Taser is safe and will not disrupt the heart rhythm. It is powered by a battery with the capacity to deliver a current for only a few minutes.
There are actually different types of Tasers, depending on whether it is a civilian or a police Taser. That’s right. The police use a different type of Taser than the civilian population. Is that a surprise?
A police Taser delivers a current lasting only five seconds with the shooting range being up to 30 feet. A civilian Taser can be shot from a range of 15-30 feet and delivers a current lasting 30 seconds.
Often, a stun gun can be confused with a Taser. A stun gun is different from a Taser in that a stun gun also delivers an electric current, but the stun gun must be in direct contact with the target.
Is a Taser a Firearm?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms, a Taser is not considered to be a firearm.
A Taser is considered to be a defense weapon used in emergencies when someone is being threatened by another and fears for their life.
By definition, a firearm is any device made or adapted to propel a projectile through a barrel using the energy from expanding gases or any device readily convertible to that use. That is not a Taser.
Since a Taser is not considered a firearm, as a felon, you are not restricted from owning one according to the Gun Control Act of 1968.
Therefore, having a felony conviction will not prevent you from purchasing and possessing a Taser.
State Taser Laws
Just because a Taser isn’t classified as a gun doesn’t necessarily mean that a felon is allowed to own one. It still depends on the law in each state, regulating the purchase and ownership of a Taser.
A check of state laws shows that it is legal to own a Taser in 45 states with the exceptions being Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. However, you must be at least 18 years old to purchase and own a Taser.
Now, owning a Taser is still not the same as being able to carry one in public and actually use it. While it is legal to carry a Taser in almost all states, in Connecticut a person cannot carry one in public.
That is the case for someone with no criminal record just as it is for a person with a felony conviction.
While a background check used to be required to purchase a Taser, this is no longer the case.
That’s right; state laws do not require a background check prior to purchasing a Taser.
What to Know About Owning a Taser
The law in most states maintains that individuals, including felons, can carry a Taser in public. End of story, right?
Well, not so fast. Think about it. As a felon, you can own and carry a Taser in most states. So, just carry one for protection?
No. That isn’t the best course of action. You still need to consider the potential consequences.
You own a Taser and take it with you in public for protection. Then, you are in a situation where you feel threatened. So you pull out your Taser and prepare to use it if necessary.
What if there is a police officer close by who sees you brandishing a Taser. Or maybe a civilian who calls 911 to report a potentially dangerous situation.
Then, the police show up, and there you are in a position of having a Taser in your hand.
If your Taser is carried in a hidden or suspicious manner, legal authorities may view it differently and may mistake it for a firearm.
They could shoot you, or just arrest you.
This can put you in the position of facing a deadly weapon charge. Of course if that happens, you should contact a lawyer.
With the sensitive nature of your situation, there is no reason to call attention to yourself needlessly by packing a Taser. You face enough restrictions already.
If you want to protect yourself and your home, you need to be cautious regarding what type of weapon you possess.
To not do so could result in your being arrested and possibly going back to prison. Don’t be among the 2/3 of felons who end up back in prison within the first two years of being released.
Don’t make the kind of mistakes you did in the past. You are not defined by your mistakes but in how you recover from them.
So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felon can own a Taser? Have you or someone you know been in this situation? What was that like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.