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Harford council talks about legalizing stun guns

A hearing on the Harford County Council's proposal to legalize stun guns drew few, but passionate, reactions.

The bill, which would allow adults to possess stun guns in Harford, would overturn a 1985 bill that was requested by a Baltimore City Councilman, Councilman Jim McMahan said.

Harford County, along with surrounding jurisdictions, had been asked at the time to ban stun guns in an attempt to keep people from bringing them into Baltimore City, McMahan said.

Carrying a Taser or stun gun was legalized by the state in 2009, and Harford's law would allow anyone who meets the standard state requirements for possessing a stun gun to have one.

Todd Fisher, of Forest Hill, was alone in speaking out to support the legalization.

He said Harford's original law was a violation of the Second Amendment and, therefore, illegal.

"While Maryland politicians continue to pretend this is not so, the right to self-defense does exist in our once-free state," he said. "Maryland continues to withhold this right to bear arms as if it were a mere privilege to be granted by the state."

After McMahan said that one out of every eight Maryland women will be the victim of forcible rape in her lifetime, Fisher suggested weapon laws should be even more relaxed.

"Even this stun gun option is a very bad choice given a woman who may be faced with a violent rape prospect," he said.

Fisher told the council no rules can be made when the Constitution is involved.

"This is merely a bookkeeping exercise," he said of the proposed bill. "In 1985, when this [original law] passed, Harford County politicians provided yet another solution to a problem that did not exist."

McMahan also said the 1985 bill has only put more restrictions on good people.

With the legalization, "homeowners will also be able to get personal devices to protect against home invasions and assaults."

"Although these [stun guns] do not specifically fall under category of arms, firearms, they do provide a method whereby law abiding citizens can repel an assailant or at least keep them at a safe distance until help arrives," McMahan said.

McMahan said he consulted with Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane, who told him he did not expect any additional danger to law enforcement officials from the bill.

State Sen. Nancy Jacobs also wrote that she supports the bill, he said.

No council members seemed to have a problem with the bill. McMahan told Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti that no one in Harford has been arrested in recent years for having a stun gun.

He also told Councilman Dick Slutzky that Baltimore County, Baltimore City and Annapolis ban the devices.

"Other than that, we are now complying with 90 percent of the counties," McMahan said about the proposed bill.

Electrical code

A hearing was also held on a bill that would amend the electrical code, largely to conform with the updated National Electrical Code.

Dennis Felts, director of the Harford County Electrical Contractors Association, told the council that the bill will ensure residents get quality electrical work. He said the bill is unanimously supported by his group.

Rock Glenn surplus, Friends meeting house

The council introduced bills that would make the Orthodox Friends Meeting House, at 2225 Old Quaker Road, a historical landmark and would also enact a handful of plumbing, sewage and soil percolation requirements.

The Orthodox Friends Meeting House includes a two-story stone meeting house and a caretaker's house on about 1.2 acres, just south of Route 1 and north of Deer Creek.

The property, also known as the Schoolhouse and built in the 1800s, "is significant for its association with the religious history of Harford County," according to the bill.

The building was constructed by the Orthodox Quakers, a group that split from the original Religious Society of Friends that was meeting in Harford. The other group, called the Hicksite Quakers, established the Deer Creek Meeting House.

The plumbing and sewage bill would spell out the details of a soil percolation test, require a plumber or septic installer to give a site plan with various environmental aspects, dispose waste from a water conditioning system appropriately, require all new lots to record at least 10,000 square feet for an initial sewage waste disposal system and require new septic systems to use best technology for removing nitrogen, among other changes.

The council introduced resolutions that would transfer a 21.4-acre parcel at 200 Rock Glenn Boulevard to the City of Aberdeen to use as open space, as well as one that would give a $200,000 loan to help Acer Exhibits and Events, LLC, move from Belcamp to 1601 Clark Road in Havre de Grace.

The move would add 20 employees to the 167,867-square-foot Havre de Grace property being bought by Acer.

The council did not vote on those resolutions.

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