This question usually comes to the law librarian in this form:
Is it legal (lawful) to own and use a personal stun gun (or taser) in Oregon?
But related questions may include the following the following:
(Note: An ECD is an Electronic Control Device)
Is it a firearm?
Can anyone of any age or status (convictions, commitments, etc.) buy one?
What are the laws about carrying a stun gun?
Are background checks necessary in order to buy/own one?
Can it be carried concealed?
Can you carry it onto an airplane, bus, train, etc.?
Can you sell or give it to a third party or maybe to my 15 year old daughter?
If my 15 year old daughter takes it without my permission and uses it at a party …?
What kind of records should I keep about it? Registration numbers, names of people I give/sell it to?
Can you use it on anyone or any animal? What about hunting or to subdue wildlife?
Can I “fire” it anywhere?
(Use of stun guns, tasers, or ECDs by law enforcement personnel is a separate issue from the one I discuss here.)
No two legal reference questions are alike, so here’s a RESEARCH STRATEGY (and I will update this as I learn more):
First: You will need to answer your specific question yourself. I will try to give you the tools to do that, but I will not answer your specific question in this (or any other) OLR blog post. Each person’s situation is different – really!
Also, as you start reading the The Law on stun guns, or if you already have begun your research, you’ll see why you might also want to talk to your local law enforcement community relations officer if you’re contemplating keeping a ECD (electrical control device) in your home. They could give you some useful tips on use, storage, and safety. (They might even tell you some good stories, too.)
Second: Finding the Oregon laws on ECDs
While doing your research, pay close attention to statutory Definitions, that is, make sure you understand the difference, either legally or colloquially, between these, if they are used in a statute:
1) stun guns and Tasers
2) weapons and firearms
For the purpose of this OLR blog post, I write generically about ECDs, that is, Electronic Control Devices:
ECDs may also be categorized as a “Less than lethal weapons”, e.g. see Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS): “Less-lethal weapons: Less-lethal technologies give police an alternative to lethal force. These weapons are especially valuable when lethal force¿(1) is not necessary, (2) is justified and available for backup, but lesser force may resolve the situation, (3) is justified, but its use could cause serious injury to bystanders or other unacceptable collateral effects. The weapons currently in use include : chemical agents, batons, soft projectiles, and electrical devices such as stun guns and Tasers….”
As you might imagine, the answers to any of the question(s) include the following possibilities: Yes, No, It Depends:
1) In theory (and beware of theory when talking about The Law), it is not unlawful to own a stun gun in Oregon. However, Owning is different from Using, Deploying, or Waving it About, which under some circumstances could be Menacing, a crime.
2) Also, don’t forget those pesky “legal status” issues, of age, prior convictions, prior commitments, or other restrictions on ownership of weapons and firearms.
3) Look in the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS): Use the Index to the ORS to make sure you get the full picture of The Law. Among other sections, you’ll want to look at these in the 2009 ORS (and update as needed after the next Legislative Session):
ORS chapters 161, 163, 166, and maybe also 167
4) Depending on your specific question, there will be other sections of the ORS you need to read.
For example, Can the ECD be carried into a public building? See, e.g. Possession of Weapon or Destructive Device in Public Building or Court Facility 166.360. Definitions for ORS 166.360 to 166.380. As used in ORS 166.360 to 166.380, unless the context requires otherwise: …, etc., etc., etc.
6) Check also for local ordinances, which is why I recommend you talk to your local law enforcement community relations officer(s).
6) Federal laws: U.S. Code: check the index. These may apply if, for example, your question is about crossing state lines by train or plane.
OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT ECDs:
Useful summaries of state laws (but always update and confirm with your own state’s laws and legal experts):
3) A recent Oregon news story (one among many): “Are Electric Stun Guns Always ‘Non-Lethal’ Weapons?’” by Amelia Templeton, September 9, 2010
Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for research purposes only. We do not provide legal advice, nor do we endorse any person, product, or company.
Disclaimer: It is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law (ORS 9.160, 9.166 and 9.21). They may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights. They may, however, assist patrons in locating materials or links that would aid in individual research.