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Jan 17 2017

Lawsuit accuses New York stun gun ban of being unconstitutional

A federal lawsuit is questioning a statute that bans New Yorkers from possessing Tasers and stun guns, alleging it violates the Second Amendment. New York has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws. Owning Tasers and other electronic stun guns is a misdemeanor in the state.

The case, filed in Albany federal court on December 3, follows a Supreme Court decision from March that suggested individuals may have a constitutional right to possess Tasers and other stun guns in Massachusetts. New York and four other states — New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Hawaii — prohibit civilians from owning stun guns. The stun-gun ban in Washington D.C. was lifted in September after a lawsuit.

The latest complaint was brought by California-based national gun rights advocacy group the Firearms Policy Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition. Matthew Avitabile, the mayor of Middleburgh, New York, is also a plaintiff in the case.

According to the lawsuit, Avitabile originally wanted to buy a Taser for self defense. The complaint said, “Plaintiff would prefer to minimize the likelihood that he would have to resort to deadly force in the event he was forced to defend himself or his home from a violent criminal attack.”

Avitabile argued the Taser ban is unconstitutional and that nonlethal stun guns should be available for self defense like traditional firearms. The lawsuit claimed using a nonlethal form of self defense would spare the plaintiff from potential arrest in case he is forced to use a weapon while defending his property from intruders. In addition, the complaint said knives, pepper sprays and other weapons are not as effective as stun guns when it comes to self defense.