With growing fears of crime and uncertainty in Washington, it's important to know what weapons are legal for self-defense. One of the most commonly thought of self-defense items (after pepper spray) is the stun gun or TASER. But are they legal to own, or use, in Washington?

Is it legal to buy and own a stun gun/taser in Washington?

Yes. No Washington laws prohibit the purchase or use of stun guns and similar devices on a state level, although some local jurisdictions may have restrictions. They are classified as dangerous weapons, as they can do physical harm, but are not strictly regulated.

Can you carry a stun gun in public?

Yes. However, tasers and similar weapons cannot be concealed when carried unless otherwise exempted under the law (RCW 9.41.250).

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There are also exceptions to where stun guns may be carried. Under RCW 9.41, stun guns generally cannot be carried in the following areas:

  • Public or private schools (elementary or secondary)
  • Child care facilities
  • Voting facilities
  • Restricted access areas
  • Courtrooms
  • Government facilities

Private facilities, such as workplaces, stadiums, and concert venues may also choose to prohibit such weapons in their facility.

Kid holding up hand as 'no/stop' in front of elementary school; taser surrounded by 'NO' symbol
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Can you use a stun gun for self-defense?

Yes. You cannot otherwise use a stun gun in a way that intimidates others or makes them fear for their safety. This rule excludes self-defense.

You may face charges if you assault a police officer with a taser, or if you use one in a way that is deemed criminally negligent.

How do I use a stun gun?

We're no experts here, but SABRE offers a great guide for beginners:

  1. Keep your stun gun easily accessible.
  2. Keep it charged and test it regularly to make sure it's still functioning.
  3. Practice grabbing and drawing your stun gun so that you don't fumble in a real defense situation.
  4. Try to target the upper hip, the shoulder, or below the rib cage.

 

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