The purpose of this snapshot is to educate security personnel of the changes to the laws for stun guns (e.g. Tasers) in the event that they come into contact with an individual in possession of the device during the course of their duties. Security personnel are reminded that they are not currently authorized to carry stun guns while working in the private security industry.
Stun guns are devices designed or redesigned, made or remade, or readily converted or restored, and used or intended to be used offensively or defensively to immobilize or incapacitate a person by the use of electric current or audible, optical, or electromagnetic pulse. The District passed the Stun Gun Regulation Amendment Act in 2017, lifting the District’s prohibition on use and possession of stun guns, as the Supreme Court has questioned the Constitutionality of outright bans on such weapons. Specifically, District law now allows for any person 18 years of age or older to purchase or possess a stun gun. Persons under the age of 18 may also briefly possess a stun gun for self-defense in response to an immediate threat of harm. The stun guns are to be used only in the exercise of reasonable force to defend person or property.
Unless permission specific to the individual and occasion is given, stun guns are prohibited, except by law enforcement in some locations where security personnel may work. These are: District government agencies/buildings; penal institutions, secure juvenile residential facilities, or halfway houses; any children’s facility, preschool, or public or private elementary or secondary school; any building or grounds that have clearly posted a prohibition.
While there are no registration requirements for purchasing a stun gun, any person convicted of illegal possession of a stun gun in violation of the age and exercise of reasonable force restrictions, may be sentenced to pay a fine of $2,500 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. Additional penalties for committing a crime armed with a stun gun may also apply. Any person convicted of bringing Class A contraband (e.g. stun guns) into a penal institution, may be sentenced to pay a fine of $25,000, or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
This article is part of the MPD’s “Security Snapshot” series, which is designed for security personnel working in the District of Columbia. While this information may be of interest to the general public, any recommendations or guidance in these articles has been created with a focus on security personnel.