Are stun guns / tasers legal in New York?

Answer

The legality of stun guns and tasers in New York State falls into something of a "gray zone" and interpretation of this requires review of State Statutes, Federal Case Law, and State Case Law.

Penal Law § 265.01 states:

"A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree when:

(1) He or she possesses any firearm, electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, plastic knuckles, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken or “Kung Fu star”.  ..."

And the related Penal Law § 60.11 states:

"When a person is to be sentenced upon a conviction of the crime of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree as defined in subdivision one of section 265.01 as a result of a plea of guilty entered in satisfaction of an indictment or count thereof charging the defendant with the class D violent felony offense of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree as defined in subdivision four of section 265.02, the court must sentence the defendant in accordance with the provisions of section 70.15."

However, in the 2019 case of Avitabile v. Beach (1:16-CV-1447), the United State District Court for the Northern District of New York ruled that "New York's sweeping prohibition on the possession and use of tasers and stun guns by all citizens for all purposes, even for self-defense in one's own home, must be declared unconstitutional."

Notwithstanding the above, the New York State Legislature has not elected to repeal or amend the portion of the Penal Law prohibiting the possession of electronic stun guns, and at least one New York Court has ruled that  the Federal Court's finding in Avitabile is not binding on the New York State Courts (see People v. Johnson, 65 Misc 3d 2014).

Given the complex nature of these statutes and cases, there is no simple "yes or no" answer to this question and the final determination must be made by conducting a careful review of all applicable factors.

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  • Last Updated Feb 22, 2022
  • Views 283
  • Answered By Librarian 12

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