Are tasers and stun guns legal in Australia?

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The need to protect ourselves when out and about is an unfortunate one, but a reality nonetheless. The world is full of good people, but it's also got plenty of bad ones who mean harm to us. It makes sense, therefore, that you would want to ensure you've got the right tools to take care of yourself.

This need for safety leads many to seek ownership of a taser or stun gun, but this is very much a buyer beware purchase. Owning one could land you in some pretty serious hot water, so today we're exploring the legalities of these devices within Australia, and what you can do instead to protect yourself.

The short answer

The short answer to whether stun guns and tasers are legal in Australia is nope, not even a little bit. If you're caught with a taser or stun gun it will be treated like any other weapon. This means you can face criminal charges for possession.

You will also find yourself on the wrong side of the law for any use of a taser or stun gun, even if it is in self defence. This is because your actions, even in self-defence, will be considered premeditated because you're carrying a weapon.

These laws also exist to protect us, as you won't generally have pre-warning for a dangerous situation. An attacker, on the other hand, will, giving them a distinct advantage in terms of having a weapon ready.

What happens if you're caught with a taser?

As noted above, those caught with a taser or stun gun within Australia can face some pretty serious consequences.

At the very least you will have the device confiscated, but in many cases you'll face a fine as well. Jail time is also a very real possibility, with the sentence for carrying one of these devices being up to 14 years in New South Wales. 

What legal alternatives to tasers and stun guns exist?

There are, however, still plenty of steps that you can take to help ensure your safety while you're out and about. We've broken them down into three categories below:

Take preventive measures

The best way to protect yourself in a bad situation is to avoid ending up in one in the first place. While this is obviously easier said than done, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself.

Standard preventative measures include staying away from areas that could be considered risky such as confined spaces with no easy exit or those with low/no lighting. Doing your best to avoid being alone is also advisable, and you should also never ignore the feeling that you're being followed. After all, it's better to be wrong and overly cautious, than right and not cautious enough. 

You can also make use of apps designed to improve personal safety. These apps can help you plan your journey, share your location with a trusted contact and more. 

Have an alert system

Speaking of apps that help keep you safe, there are also plenty available which are designed to help get you out of a bad situation. We have a list of the best personal safety apps that can help you decide, but it is still important to consider which option is best for you. Most options will include an alert function which can notify a trusted contact if something goes wrong, with many offering the ability to contact authorities.

Personal safety apps can also help your loved ones locate you, so we strongly recommend making use of them even when taking other measures.

It is also wise to carry a personal alarm when walking alone. These devices emit a loud, jarring noise when activated, which can both startle your attacker, and alert those nearby that something isn't right and you need help.

Know self-defence

Martial arts and combat sports may not be your idea of a fun workout, but having at least a basic understanding of some form of self-defence is incredibly valuable in keeping yourself safe. 

Self-defence classes are available as standalone courses for those wishing to know how to protect themselves. The classes provide general knowledge, without focusing on a specific type of martial art, and they'll also go over other protection strategies in addition to basic combat. 

Those who enjoy these types of sports, however, will do well to combine lessons in their preferred style with a self-defence course. This is because both types of training provide unique perspectives, and knowing more than one way to protect yourself is always handy. 

Prepare with physical protection

Although most forms of physical self-defence products are illegal in Australia, there are two options that are legal and can quite literally save your life. A bright torch, and a device that is capable of making an incredibly loud, preferably high pitched sound.

While these may not sound like they offer much physical protection, they can provide vital time to escape. A bright torch when shined in an attacker's eyes can temporarily blind them, while a device which is capable of making a significant amount of noise (such as the above mentioned personal protective alarm) can disorient your attacker.

While you'll probably only buy yourself a short amount of time, it's better than nothing. Plus, as you're not doing damage to your assailant, you will, in most cases, be protected by self-defence laws. These items are considered legal to carry, as they're everyday products, and you will not be penalised for having them on your person.

We do also recommend carrying a lanyard with you. This is because swinging it around can act as a deterrent to would be attackers. Plus, you'll have a longer range when fighting back. However it is important to remember that anything that you carry can be used against you if it is taken from you.

Final word

Ensuring your personal safety is important, but it shouldn't come at the expense of following the law.

While tasers and stun guns may seem like a good device to carry for self-defence, the risks far outweigh the benefits, so it's best to find other ways to keep yourself safe.

Our top recommendation is definitely the use of a personal protection application alongside having completed a basic self-defence course, but it is important to ensure that the solution you select works well for you. 

Jessica Jones
Written by
Jessica Jones
Jess has been writing educational content for almost ten years with a focus on lifestyle content. She loves coffee, dogs and all things fitness, and can often be found with her nose buried in a book and her music blaring through her earphones.

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