Maryland’s cities and counties ended bans on tasers in recent years. However, the question of is it legal to carry a taser in Maryland is not necessarily a straightforward one.
Tasers are intended to incapacitate a victim. They are used as an alternative to deadly force weapons like guns. However, tasers can cause serious injuries or deaths. Tasers have caused heart attacks in some people they were used on.
Although it is legal to carry a taser in Maryland in many circumstances, the police may not follow the letter of the law. Always talk to a Baltimore weapon crimes lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest for the possession of a weapon.
What is a Taser?
A taser is shot from a distance. It is an electroshock weapon. A taser shoots probes connected to wires toward its target. The probes are spear-shaped. They can penetrate a victim’s clothing and skin.
The taser emits an electrical current over an area of up to two inches. The victim completes the circuit to deliver the electric shock.
Although the term taser is often used to encompass stun devices, it’s actually a brand name. TASER Self-Defense, a subsidiary of Axon, manufactures the product.
Tasers are often confused with stun guns. They are not the same. A stun gun is equipped with two or more prongs that deliver the electric shock to the victim.
To effectively use a stun gun, you must be in direct contact with the victim. The weapon does not shoot out a probe like a taser. Typically, two of the prongs from a stun gun carry an electric arc between them that is visible to the naked eye.
Tasers have caused deaths in people with heart conditions and other illnesses like diabetes. However, less than 1 percent of tased people end up injured, ABC News reported. If you were arrested for carrying a stun gun, Maryland criminal defense attorney Randolph Rice can help.
Can You Legally Carry a Taser in Maryland?
In Maryland, most people can buy, own and carry tasers or stun guns for self-defense without a permit. Some cities held out with bans against tasers. These bans were repealed in 2017. CBS reported three local jurisdictions, The City of Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Howard County banned stun guns and tasers.
Baltimore City Council voted to reverse itself and legalize these electronic weapons after a federal lawsuit challenging the legality of the ban. The reversal came after the Supreme Court ruled stun guns are included in the Second Amendment right to self-defense.
A year earlier, a group including Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF), and a Maryland resident filed a lawsuit to strike down the City of Annapolis’ total ban on electronic self-defense weapons like tasers and stun guns.
The new law in the three jurisdictions allows members of the public to possess and use an electronic weapon as a form of non-lethal self-defense in public and the home.
Baltimore’s regulation still prohibits possession of a taser or a stun gun by people who pose an unacceptable risk to public safety, including those under restraining orders for domestic violence and people treated for mental illness. Baltimore also prohibits tasers in public schools and certain other public buildings.
Tasers and stun guns are also described as electronic control devices. Although it is legal to carry a taser in Maryland, there are exceptions.
Who May Not Carry a Taser in Maryland?
A person may not possess or use an electronic control device unless they have:
- Reached the age of 18 years
- Have never been convicted of a crime of violence such as murder or rape or violated one of Maryland’s controlled drugs statutes.
An electronic control device like a taser may not be sold and activated in Maryland unless:
- An instructional manual or audiovisual or audio instructions are provided to the purchaser;
- The manufacturer maintains a record of the original owner of the device; and
- The manufacturer or seller obtained a State and federal criminal history records check of the original owner to ensure compliance.
What is the Penalty for Illegal Possession of a Taser in Maryland?
Illegal possession of taser or a stun gun is a misdemeanor. Defendants can be charged with a separate felony when equipped with an electronic control device while committing a violent crime.
Talk to a Lawyer About Whether It’s Legal to Carry a Taser in Maryland
Many Maryland weapons crimes carry serious penalties. If you are charged with carrying a taser, an electronic control device, or firearms, there are several defenses that can be raised.
You may have been illegally searched. Police might not be enforcing the more recent laws related to these weapons that allow the carrying of tasers in most circumstances in Maryland. Contact a Baltimore criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice as soon as possible after an arrest at (410) 694-7291.