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Coalition wants New York City gun ban struck down


(The Center Square) – A coalition of gun rights groups are asking a judge to strike down New York City’s ban on Tasers and stun guns, arguing that restrictions preventing civilians from owning electronic weapons are unconstitutional.

New York City Police began using them in 2008.

In a U.S. District Court filing, the Firearms Policy Coalition, Second Amendment say recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings striking down firearm restrictions make the city’s ban illegal and ask a federal judge to block the city from enforcing the restrictions.

“The stun gun and Taser bans set forth in the Administrative Code and the Penal Law conflict directly with the Second Amendment’s guarantee protecting the people’s right to keep and bear arms for their protection,” lawyers for the group wrote in the 22-page court filing. “A deprivation of Second Amendment rights is an injury that, by its very nature, is irreparable.”

“New York City’s ban on stun guns and tasers is one of the last in the country for one simple reason – nearly every court to review a challenge to such a law has struck it down,” Cody J. Wisniewski, the FPC’s vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. “It is clear under the Supreme Court’s standard…that this sort of ban completely fails constitutional muster.

“New York City will simply be the next in a long line of governments that have been forced to cease enforcing a complete ban on electronic arms.”

New York is one of a handful of states that outright ban private ownership of stun guns or Tasers. They are legal in nearby New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island.

In most cases owners must be at least 18 years old and not have a felony record. In some cases a firearms permit is required, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In 2019, a federal judge ruled that New York’s ban on the civilian possession of tasers and stun guns is unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the Second Amendment. The ruling followed similar decisions by courts in Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

Second Amendment groups filed a lawsuit in 2021 challenging New York City’s ban, but the court hasn’t yet ruled on the case. The new legal filings call for a final resolution to the litigation.

Critics of the city’s ban frame the debate around empowering victims of domestic violence, arguing stun guns offer an alternative to pepper spray and firearms. They say some people prefer electronic weapons to firearms for self-defense.

New York lawmakers have pushed for years to end the city’s ban on electronic weapons and set new regulations on the sale and use of personal defense devices.