Fink said there's no truth to that. He said he learned only a few weeks ago that the state makes Taser and stun gun use legal, and that Anne Arundel had narrowed those rights for county residents.

Baltimore City and Baltimore and Howard counties are among the few local jurisdictions that bar citizens from owning the devices.

"Why now? I waited until some of the high-profile stuff died down a little, like the stormwater fee bill and the appointment of [new County Executive Laura] Neuman," he said. "If I'd have learned about this a year and a half ago, I'd have introduced it then."

Fink said it only makes sense that a state that permits qualified residents to carry handguns, which can kill and maim, should allow the same residents to carry a less lethal form of self-protection.

His bill calls for potential Taser and stun gun owners to meet the same qualifications gun owners must meet — they must be 18 or older, pass a criminal background check and be given visual or audiovisual instruction on the use of the device at time of purchase.

The bill also stipulates fines of up to $3,000 and jail time of up to three years for violators of the law.

Fink agrees it's possible for Tasers to fall into the wrong hands, and that some might even use the devices to commit crimes. But he said that's the case with any weapon.

"Any argument you can make against Tasers, you can make against firearms," he said. "The idea is not to let criminals dictate how law-abiding citizens can and can't defend themselves."

He said he's cautiously optimistic he can get the four votes needed to pass the measure.

The council will host a public hearing on the matter at its April 15 meeting. If the bill passes, it would become law within 45 days.

jonathan.pitts@baltsun.com

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