Baltimore moves to legalize stun gun possession

The Baltimore City Council is moving to legalize stun gun possession by city residents in response to a federal court ruling.

A bill introduced at Monday's City Council meeting on behalf of the Pugh administration would allow a person to "possess and use an electronic control device as a form of non-lethal self-defense in the home and in public."


The legislation would, however, put some restrictions on the use of stun guns. It states, for instance, that they may not be possessed by a person who "poses an unacceptable risk to public safety."

The city bill is the latest local response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that suggested Second Amendment rights extend to stun guns. A group of area residents filed a federal lawsuit in January challenging local bans in Baltimore, Baltimore County and Howard County.

The Baltimore County Council already has voted to repeal its ban on stun guns. Howard County lifted its ban in February in response to the suit.

Hilary Ruley, chief solicitor with the Baltimore law department, told City Council members at a lunch Monday that they need to work quickly on the bill in order to avoid being fined by the federal court.

"We've put in this bill because the federal court has essentially asked us to," she said. "If the bill doesn't pass within 90 days, we'll be hit with more than the $40,000 in attorney's fees."

Ruley said the law department wants to ban the ownership of stun guns by people who suffer from a mental illness or are under a protective order for domestic violence. She said the legislation also will call for a ban in schools or other public buildings.

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said he wants the bill to pass very soon.

"I'm quite sure the chair of the judiciary will work quite quickly, because we don't want to be fined," he said.

Councilman Eric T. Costello, chairman of the Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee, said he would schedule a hearing on the bill for May 2.