Baltimore County votes to repeal Taser ban in wake of lawsuit

The Baltimore County Council on Monday voted to scrap its ban on electronic weapons following a federal lawsuit challenging the prohibition on Second Amendment grounds.

Meeting in Towson, the council voted unanimously to lift the local ordinance which promised to punish those caught with Tasers or stun guns up to a $1,000 fine or six months in jail. The measure comes as a response to a lawsuit filed by six area residents that took not only Baltimore County but the City of Baltimore and Howard County into federal court.

Baltimore County Attorney Michael Field filed a motion with the court last month seeking to dismiss their involvement with the case pending the adoption of the emergency ordinance at this week’s council meeting. The county did not dispute that Tasers and stun guns are protected arms under the Second Amendment citing a Massachusetts case, Caetano, that was kicked back the U.S. Supreme Court last spring.

Some in the area are pleased with the move.

“That sounds like a good idea to me as an alternative to handguns. I think it’s a safer way for people to defend themselves without causing a lot of unintended consequences,” Baltimore County resident, Mike Rosendorf, told WMAR.

With the action on Monday, all the defendants in the suit have thrown in the towel on their local bans. U.S. Chief Judge Catherine C. Blake in February signed off on an order approved by the City of Baltimore putting its prohibition on electronic weapons on ice while officials work on a more formal legislative repeal of the ban. That same week, the Howard County Council voted 4-1 to repeal its ban

In a response to a separate suit, on Feb. 28 the City Council of Annapolis, Maryland, repealed its total ban on the possession and carry of electronic arms.

Maryland state law still restricts electronic weapons to those under 18 and forbids their use by those convicted of a crime of violence. Local bans on the devices abounded until 2013 when Anne Arundel County voted to allow the use and carry of Tasers and stun guns.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is expected to sign the Taser repeal into law later this week.

In the past week, the Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation sent legal letters to the cities of Westminster, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Tacoma, Washington; and Wilmington, Delaware demanding they repeal their respective bans on electronic arms or face litigation. Other federal lawsuits against Taser restrictions have been filed in Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington D.C. in recent months.

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