Washington D.C. reverses ban on Tasers after court challenge

The District of Columbia agreed to lift its prohibition on civilian ownership of Tasers on Monday as part of a lawsuit filed in federal court.

In the two-page order, signed by U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg, the city agreed not to enforce its current ban on Tasers and other electronic arms for lawful self-defense in residences while lawmakers hammer out a new and more accommodating law.

“This marks one more small step in achieving full Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia,” attorney George L. Lyon, representing the case, told Guns.com on Wednesday. “There are plainly more steps on this journey.”

The Taser case was brought by Crystal Wright, a conservative blogger who has been cyber-stalked and threatened for her political beliefs and sought a means to protect herself. As noted in court documents, one person sent her an email saying he intended to break into her home and bash her head in.

With firearm permits in the District notoriously hard to obtain and a desire to use less lethal means if possible for liability reasons, Wright attempted to buy a Taser online in May and was refused by the company, citing DC law which prohibited them from selling the device to civilians — though they do sell them to law enforcement in the same area.

Two other District residents, Brendan Turner — twice the victim of armed robbery but unwilling to have a firearm in his home due to young children — and Traci R. Dean, a nurse who works late but is wary of owning a deadly weapon, like Wright attempted to buy a Taser for self-defense in recent months but were denied.

Lyon argued in the plaintiffs’ complaints that the Second Amendment extends “to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,” citing the 2008 Heller ruling as well as the more recent Caetano case.

In Caetano, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the conviction of a woman who bought and used a stun gun in self-defense from an abusive ex-boyfriend, citing the device “is not the type of weapon that is eligible for Second Amendment protection” because it was “not in common use at the time of [the Second Amendment’s] enactment.” On March 21, the entire U.S. Supreme Court took one look at that logic and unanimously rejected the state’s argument.

Caetano is also cited heavily in a complaint filed by Second Amendment advocates in New Jersey against the Garden State’s ban on stun guns last month.