City Council repeals electronic gun ban

It is now legal to carry electronic guns, such as stun guns and Tasers, after the Annapolis City Council voted to repeal its ban against the weaponry on Monday night.The repeal was passed with a unanimous vote after it was discovered the law could be deemed...

City Council repeals electronic gun ban

It is now legal to carry electronic guns, such as stun guns and Tasers, after the Annapolis City Council voted to repeal its ban against the weaponry on Monday night.

The repeal was passed with a unanimous vote after it was discovered the law could be deemed unconstitutional after a March Supreme Court decision last year. A lawsuit against the city, backed by gun rights activists, catalyzed the decision.

"Because of the lawsuit brought by this resident and foundation for gun rights, it is rather clear that it is presently ruled by the courts as unconstitutional against people's rights to bear arms," said Mike Leahy, city attorney. "It is highly likely we would lose this (lawsuit)."

Passage of the bill now means Annapolis residents can own stun guns although they are still held to the state law, which requires a person to be 18 or older and without a criminal record.

The lawsuit against the city was filed in late December by Annapolis resident Jeff Hulbert, who was also joined by pro-Second Amendment groups Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation. This lawsuit is similar to those filed against Howard County and Baltimore City.

Baltimore officials are considering legislation in response to the lawsuit. Howard County lifted its ban in response to the lawsuit.

Anne Arundel County had an electronic guns ban but lifted it in 2013.

Monday's repeal now allows Annapolis residents to own and carry the guns. It previously came with a $250 fine for a first offense and a $1,000 fine for multiple offenses.

The legislation on the electronic guns was passed as emergency legislation. This required a unanimous vote by the City Council to hold the vote, because it meant bypassing public and committee hearings.

Speed is necessary so the city can take the repeal to the judge and render the lawsuit moot, Leahy said.

Before the legislation was passed, Maj. Scott Baker, acting Annapolis police chief, was asked his perception of the law.

Baker asked the council to consider future legislation that would further regulate the electronic guns without violating federal law.

"I see it as a dangerous weapon that could potentially be used against a police officer in the street," Baker said.

Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, D-Ward 4, along with Alderman Ross Arnett, D-Ward 8, both said they would look into future regulations of the weapons.

In other business, the City Council meeting was quick as there were no speakers on the two bills up for public hearing.

One of those bills would add equal protection information into the city's code, reinforcing the city's protection of undocumented immigrants based upon the 14th Amendment assurance of "equal protection of the laws."

The other establishes an equal protection commission tasked with hearing and reporting on incidents of discrimination, especially for undocumented immigrants.

The City Council also introduced legislation that would change the deadline for the city to collect taxes. Currently there is a three-year deadline to collect property taxes. This legislation would increase that to seven years.

Another introduced bill would increase the City Council aldermen compensation from $13,500 to $15,000. It also would increase the minimum pay of the city manager from $120,000 to $140,000.

The City Council increase is slated to take effect after the November election. The city manager's increase would take effect in July. The law would increase current city manager Tom Andrews' salary from $130,000 to the new baseline. City officials said that wasn't the intention of the legislation and it is likely to be amended.

The Baltimore Sun contributed to this report.

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