ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Controversial vote. Anne Arundel County becomes the first in central Maryland to allow residents to carry stun guns and Tasers. The County Council voted Monday to lift the ban on electronic control devices.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the decision.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Maryland: 974 New Cases Reported, Positivity Increasing
In a tight vote Monday night, the County Council decided to lift the ban on the devices, despite some concerns for public safety.
Stun guns and Tasers could soon be in the hands of residents in Anne Arundel County.
“I think it provides an alternative…for folks that are not comfortable carrying handguns. It gives them a choice. It gives them an option,” said Councilman Derek Fink, who sponsored the bill.
The County Council has voted to lift a ban on the devices for anyone over the age of 18 who passes a criminal background check.
Supporters say it’s necessary for self-defense.
“We can’t fight off most attackers without a took at our disposal. Most of the counties in Maryland allow Tasers,” said Dr. Ray Miller.READ MORE: Maryland Ranks No. 7 Among Most Diverse States
Opponents question the lack of training required to carry the weapons.
“All they are required to do under state law is provide a brochure, just provide written instructions. A how to manual, if you will. And you know how many of us read those,” said Patric Enright.
Tasers and stun guns were banned in the county back in 1985. In 2006, a special exception was made to allow police officers to carry them.
A state law passed in 2009 allows the devices, but different jurisdictions—many in central Maryland—have upheld the bans, including Harford, Howard and Baltimore counties, as well as Baltimore City and Annapolis.
Under the new Anne Arundel County legislation, if a person misuses a Taser or stun gun, they could face up to three years in jail and a $3,000 fine.
When the bill was introduced, the police union president told WJZ he had concerns about it. However, no one from the police force testified against it.MORE NEWS: WATCH LIVE: Anne Arundel County Officials Provide COVID-19 Update
If the county executive signs the bill, it will become law in 45 days.