Annapolis repeals stun gun ban after lawsuit

Two months after a Maryland man took Annapolis officials to federal court over their stun gun prohibition, the City Council passed emergency legislation to repeal the ban.

The Annapolis City Council voted unanimously Monday to scrap their ban on electrical weapons, as reported by the Capital Gazette, citing the pending suit as the reason behind the move.

“Because of the lawsuit brought by this resident and foundation for gun rights, it is rather clear that it is presently ruled by the courts as unconstitutional against people’s rights to bear arms,” said Annapolis City Attorney Mike Leahy. “It is highly likely we would lose this.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division in December, 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 was 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.

The news from Annapolis comes a week after U.S. Chief Judge Catherine C. Blake signed off on an order approved by the city of Baltimore putting its prohibition on Tasers on ice while officials work on a more formal legislative repeal of their ban following a lawsuit there. That suit, brought by a group of six Maryland residents was against Baltimore City and County and Howard County over their bans on the possession of electronic weapons. The Howard County Council last week voted 4-1 to repeal their local ban.

Maryland state law still restricts electronic weapons to those over 18 and forbids their use by those convicted of a crime of violence.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court noted Tasers and stun guns are allowed protection under the Second Amendment last March, a flood of lawsuits has seen bans on the devices scrapped in New Orleans, Washington D.C. and other cities. Litigation is pending in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

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