Know the Law: Non-Lethal Self-Defense | Oklahoma


The following is a video transcript.

Firearms are not your only line of self-defense. In some circumstances, non-lethal weapons, such as pepper spray, stun guns, canes, or other weapons may be used. Let’s discuss the legal parameters of non-lethal weapons in Oklahoma.

What is a non-lethal weapon?

A non-lethal weapon is any object that is not expected to normally produce death or serious injury by its intended use. By comparison, guns and knives are expected to grievously injure or cause death when used as designed. Thus, guns and knives are classified as deadly weapons. On the other hand, a hammer, automobile, 2×4 piece of wood, rolling pin, golf club, or shovel are not classified as deadly weapons. These are ordinary objects, but they may become dangerous or deadly weapons if intended to be used to inflict serious bodily injury or death.

Any weapon that is not listed on the prohibited weapon list found at 21-OS, Section 1272 may be legally carried. Section 1272 only bans the carry of a pistol, revolver, shotgun, or rifle, loaded or unloaded, or any blackjack, loaded cane, hand chain, metal knuckles, or any other offensive weapon, concealed or unconcealed. Thus, pepper spray, stun guns, and normal canes are legal to carry. Let’s take a minute to talk about each of them.

Tasers & Stun Guns

People often ask about tasers. T-A-S-E-R is actually a brand that makes stun-gun-style weapons. One popular model, also used by law enforcement officers, is a standoff stun gun that fires darts with electric wires attached. The darts stick into the target and transmits high voltage electricity to disable an attacker. The cartridges are single use, but can be replaced. The taser can then continue to be used as a contact stun gun and is quite effective. Contact stun guns are more reasonably priced and may be deployed within arm’s reach. The high voltage can cause burns on the attacker and disable an attacker in seconds.

What happens when you use your Stun Gun?

The drawback is that hand-to-hand combat may require some athleticism, and subjects you to possible loss of control of the stun gun if the attacker gets ahold of it. When used for self-defense, a stun gun is limited to the reasonable use of force standard in Oklahoma. If your use of a taser is considered unreasonable or excessive, you may be charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Pepper spray

Moving on to pepper spray, which comes in several forms. The gel form is emitted in a fine stream and sticks to the exposed skin and clothing, much like the slime in Ghostbusters. The aerosol form is described as a heavy fog and has its drawbacks when used in confined space. Similar to other non-lethal weapons, if you use pepper spray in an unreasonable manner, or its use is inconsistent with the self-defense laws of Oklahoma, you can be charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Cane or walking stick

Carrying a cane or walking stick for self-defense is also legal in Oklahoma. The use of a cane for self-defense purposes is limited by the doctrine of reasonable force. If you carry a cane, be careful. There’s a fine line between self-defense and assault. If the cane is used in an unreasonable manner, to repel an unwanted advance by a stranger, the misuse of the cane can result in criminal and civil liability. If you carry a big stick, make sure you walk softly.

What you shouldn’t carry

Brass knuckles are a big no-no. Brass knuckles are prohibited weapons, and should not be used for self-defense, as they cannot be carried legally in Oklahoma. The discharge of BB guns and air rifles are prohibited in most cities and are only allowed to be used for target practice, hunting, and other legitimate purposes. BB guns that resemble real firearms are also subject to seizure by police.


My advice to you is this: stick with the traditional taser, stun gun, pepper spray, cane, and walking stick for non-lethal self-defense carry weapons.

For any questions about non-lethal weapons in Oklahoma, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.

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