City Council Passes Bill to Allow Stun Guns

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A Taser, via Wikimedia Commons

A measure passed by the City Council last night would afford Baltimore residents a new form of electrically charged protection.

In a 14-1 vote, council members approved a bill authorizing city dwellers “to possess and use an electronic control device as a form of non-lethal self-defense in the home and in public.” The phrase “electronic control devices” generally refers to Tasers, which can shoot electrodes at a person and shock the bejeezus out of them.

There are plenty of places Baltimoreans still would be barred from using stun guns, namely schools and state- and city-owned public buildings. Additionally, the bill prohibits possession of one by any person “who poses an unacceptable risk to public safety,” including those diagnosed as mentally defective or who have been committed to a mental institution, as well as anyone placed under a restraining order.

The bill text cites a series of U.S. Supreme Court rulings from 2008 through last year that protect Americans’ rights to own firearms for “lawful purposes” such as self-defense. The most recent ruling, Caetano v. Massachusetts, determined stun guns are a Second Amendment-protected weapon, rendering state bans on the weapons constitutional.

In February, state lawmakers repealed Maryland’s stun gun ban under pressure from a lawsuit filed by gun rights supporters. Lawsuits in Howard and Baltimore counties yielded the same results for local ordinances.

Mayor Catherine Pugh will still need to approve the bill for it to become law. A spokesman from her office hasn’t returned a request for comment on whether she plans to do so.

Ethan McLeod
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