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Are Stun Guns and Tasers Legal in Canada for Self-Defense?

Updated: Feb 8


a woman with a taser

Are you worried about being physically overpowered? Wondering whether it’s legal to carry a taser or stun gun in Canada for self-defense?

Let’s look into your rights as a person defending themselves against an attacker and the laws that you’re up against.



Quick Answers



taser vs stun gun

Are Tasers Legal? Difference Between A Stun Gun vs Taser

In Canada, tasers are illegal for civilians to carry as self-defense weapons and are classified as "prohibited weapons." Tasers can only be used by law enforcement for self-defense and crowd control because there are many concerns about the potential harm they can cause when they’re used improperly.


Canadian law enforcement have strict guidelines and training programs in place for using tasers. The RCMP have to re-certify every year to continue carrying a “conducted energy weapon.


Sometimes the term “stun gun” and “taser” gets used interchangeably because they’re both conducted-energy weapons, but let’s break down the many differences.


Taser” is actually the brand name for the weapons now made by Axon. This electro-shock weapon fires tiny probes or darts that are connected to thin wires, causing neuromuscular incapacitation. This pistol-looking device is intended to be used for personal protection because they can reach targets up to 15 feet away, and the probes can emit multiple cycles of electricity of around 50,000 volts.


The target is struck by the darts, which deliver electricity through the wires, disrupting the neuromuscular system and rendering the target temporarily paralyzed or if overused, potentially rendering them unconscious. The taser causes muscles to contract up to 19 times per second.


Stun guns are for close range combat and have metal prongs at the top of the device. They are block-shaped like an electric shaver, but you can find them concealed in the form of a torch, phone or flashlight.


They give the attacker a very painful, high-voltage shock - the pain is temporary but it does not paralyze the entire body like a taser does. At approximately three milliamps, the charge is not strong enough to damage the target’s body unless you hold down the weapon for an excessively long period of time.


Officers are trained to use all energy-conducting weapons are only supposed to use them when a person is “causing, or may soon cause, themselves or someone else harm.”


Are Stun Guns or Tasers Legal In Canada?

You may be tempted to carry one in your handbag, but personal stun guns are illegal in Canada, and if you possess one, this is considered a criminal offense and possession of a weapon.


Canada categorizes weapons into “prohibited” and “unprohibited weapons.” And both stun guns and tasers are considered prohibited weapons.


Stun guns can only be used by police officers who use them as a non-lethal alternative to firearms. The RCMP are permitted to use stun guns in situations where they feel under threat (according to the Canadian Criminal Code Section 85) and where all other options have been exhausted. This includes verbal communication and empty-hand control techniques, which is a fancy way of saying all techniques that don’t involve any kind of weapon.


So, What About Cattle Prods?

Cattle prods are legal stun guns, as long as they are used only for the purpose of a deterrent against animals and are over a length of 480mm. Cattle prods must be used for cattle, to deter dog attacks and so on.

It is illegal to use them on a person, or intended to be used on a person, as then they become a prohibited weapon in accordance with the Criminal Code of Canada.



taser


10 Alternatives To Stun Guns

You can read my comprehensive guide on the 10 best self defense tools you can carry, but I've given you a quick rundown below as well.



sabre self defense spray


In Canada, it's illegal to tell a policeman that you're carrying pepper spray for self-defense. But, you can carry dog spray to use against dogs, wildlife and (ahem) animals. Read our full guide on whether bear spray for self defense in Canada here.


tactical pen amazon


If you’re trapped in a car, you can break glass with a Tactical Pen (otherwise known as a windshield breaker). But it's illegal to carry this if you intend to use it as a weapon in Canada, so remember - you will only be carrying this on your person because it's a normal pen.


For writing with ... for your exam.




shes birdie keychain


Personal alarms let an extremely loud noise to draw attention to your situation and deter and disorient attackers.



self defense umbrella



A security umbrella, on the surface, appears and functions like any regular umbrella, offering the typical utility you'd expect. However, it's engineered with a robust frame and a steel tip for a forceful defensive response.



steel water bottle



Hide your cash, cards, keys and those little treasures you don't want the world to find. And here's the best part: If needed, when filled with ice, it can serve as a makeshift defense tool. This bottle offers a smart, subtle way to keep your valuables secure while staying hydrated.



safety keychain


Self-defense keychains are compact, easy-to-carry devices designed for personal protection, either by striking an assailant or creating noise to draw attention.



tactical flashlight



Your every day flashlight can be used as self-defense tool by shining it in an attacker's eyes to blind and disorient them. Flashlights are of course legal to carry in Canada, unlike many other self-defense tools. This means that you can have one on hand at all times in your bag without worrying about breaking the law.




Although Apple’s AirTag is primarily designed to track personal items, it can also play a role in enhancing your personal safety. By discreetly placing an AirTag in your bag or attaching it to your keychain, you establish a covert connection between yourself and those closest to you. Your friends and family can then use the Find My app to effortlessly monitor your location while you're commuting or out for a jog.


GPS watches are your guardian angel. A fusion of fitness and protection, they're the jogger's trusted companion as they track your location real-time.


garmin gps watch




titanium emergency whistle


Safety whistles in Canada is completely lawful. You can conveniently wear it around your neck or stash it in a handbag or pocket for easy access in case of emergencies.


What Hurts More, a Stun Gun or Taser?

A taser and a stun gun are similar in terms of the pain they cause to the attacker, but the taser has a greater ability to disrupt muscle movements and prevent an assailant from advancing towards you by paralyzing them. The effects of a taser last less than one hour. Stun gun effects are temporary and end once you stop pressing down the stun gun onto the attacker.


Using the stun gun for ½ a second causes a moment of pain. Zapping one to two seconds causes muscle spasms and confusion. A zap that’s longer than three seconds disorients and causes great temporary pain to the attacker.


Are Stun Guns Or Tasers Lethal?

A taser shock can cause “cardiac arrest” and death, according to a 2012 study. Tasers can impair brain function such as causing reduced verbal learning and memory, but these effects last under an hour. The effects lasted, on average, less than one hour. A stun gun is not lethal but causes a significant amount of pain. There is no permanent damage from a stun gun.


Do Stun Guns Go Through Clothes?

Stun guns can penetrate clothing due to the high voltage electric shock placed directly on the attacker's body, but very heavy clothing (like thick jackets) will reduce the shock’s effectiveness.


Does a Stun Gun Look The Same As A Taser?

Tasers are pistol-shaped, whereas stun guns are small, handheld devices often found in the form of a torch.


What Can I Carry As Self Defense?

In Canada it's illegal to carry any weapon with the intention of self-defense.


However, if you intend to (and just happen to) be carrying bear spray and you just happen to use it if you get attacked by another person,

You can read the full guide on pepper spray and bear spray here for more info.


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9 Comments


Ida Hull
Ida Hull
Jan 25

So in October, my husband's mobility scooter was stolen during the night. They would have had to park their truck right in front of our windows. We didn't hear a thing. My dog didn't even bark. I couldn't call 911 since the theft was after the fact. I gave up trying to get ahold of the police after three days. Yes, they're busy. I bought my husband a new one that cost three times what I paid for the other one. It has a very loud alarm, which I can activate with the remote, I installed a GPS tracker in it, and I bought a security camera. The day it arrived, we drove it around a bit, and a…

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Paranoid Zkitszo
Paranoid Zkitszo
Nov 25, 2023

Wait a sec... isn't the law that a "stun gun" (though nothing like a gun) is in fact legal- just that, like knives, except the opposite, have size restrictions? That a stun gun cannot be less than X in length? Knives can't be over a certain size.... stun guns have to be over a certain size.


The above article is somewhat incorrect- an "electrical discharge device" can be legally possessed a long as it is for the specific reason of deterring animals AND must be over 480mm in length...so, for use for cattle or deterring attacking dogs. The moment they are used on a person, or the intention of the device is to be used on a person, that is…


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staysafevancouver
Nov 26, 2023
Replying to

Yes, thank you for your insights. This is accurate. Cattle prods are legal stun guns, as long as they are used only for the purpose of a deterrent against animals and are over a length of 480mm. Cattle prods must be used for cattle, to deter dog attacks and so on. It is illegal to use them on a person, or intended to be used on a person, as then they become a prohibited weapon in accordance with the Criminal Code of Canada.

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Paulette Pap
Paulette Pap
Nov 03, 2023

It should be completely legal to protect yourself that's just human nature, if this is the case the laws are backwards and very wrong.

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Paulette Pap
Paulette Pap
Nov 03, 2023

Outrageous ! the legal systems are a damned joke !

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Ida Hull
Ida Hull
Sep 26, 2023

So it is actually illegal to defend myself? Three seniors and I take our dogs to a local park everyday. There is a sexual preditor there almost daily. He hits on every woman he sees. He brags about his 8.1 inch genitals. He exposed himself to us several weeks ago. Can we get ahold of the police? Sure, if you want to be on hold for 45 minutes. 911 put us through to the local detachment with the same result. And I can't defend myself? I WILL defend myself, legal or not.

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Marco sepe
Marco sepe
Nov 19, 2023
Replying to

Sounds like this person has a mental health problem. The problem is mental health issues seem to override our safety.

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