Annapolis resident files suit seeking to overturn local ban on Tasers

An Maryland man is taking Annapolis officials to federal court over their stun gun prohibition, arguing the city’s ban on the devices is in violation of his Second Amendment rights.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division last week, names the city, Mayor Mike Pantelides and Police Chief Michael Pristoop as defendants and seeks to strike Annapolis’ local law as being unconstitutional. Under city code, possession, or use of any electronic weapon, stun gun or any similar device is unlawful with exceptions for law enforcement.

The suit is brought by Jeff Hulbert, an area man who wants to buy a Taser for self-defense but cannot due to the local ordinance and is joined by the Firearms Policy Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition, pro-Second Amendment member organizations.

“Striking down the City’s total ban on electronic self-defense weapons is especially important in a state like Maryland, where acquiring a license to carry a handgun is extremely difficult,” said Brandon Combs, president of the Coalition and chair of the Foundation.

Attorney Stephen Stamboulieh, who is working similar challenges in New Jersey, New York and Louisiana, argues that Tasers are in common use both by civilians and by some 18,000-law enforcement agencies.

A common theme in the cases, as well as one filed challenging Washington, D.C.’s ban, is in citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court reversal of a Massachusetts ruling on stun guns, that argued they are protected under the Second Amendment. The case, Caetano v Massachusetts, upholds the 2008 Heller decision that held for an individual right to keep and bear arms and the later McDonald case which held those arms could be carried outside of the home as reasons for vacating the state’s ruling.

“While less popular than handguns, stun guns are widely owned and accepted as a legitimate means of self-defense across the country,” Justice Samuel Alito noted last March in a concurrence to Caetano.

Despite being relatively recent additions to the courts, some cities are rapidly retreating from their Taser bans rather than mounting a legal defense. The District of Columbia scrapped their ordinance wholesale while New Orleans made a specific exception to their ban for the individual challenging the Crescent City in court.

Hubert is seeking an order declaring the Annapolis ordinance unconstitutional as well as damages, attorney fees and costs.

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