While state law soon will allow ownership of electronic control devices, commonly known as Tasers, Baltimore County has enacted a ban on purchasing the weapons for personal use.
The County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to outlaw the devices and made the law effective Sept. 21. The prohibition adds the newest electronic devices to the county's existing ban on the use, possession, sale or discharge of a stun gun, officials said. Violators face a $1,000 fine and the possibility of six months in prison. The ban will not apply to law enforcement personnel.
County Police Chief Jim Johnson called the measure a critical piece of public safety legislation and the state law a "setback to public safety." State law allows persons ages 18 or older and without criminal records to purchase them.
Purchasers of the devices, which can range in price from $200 to $600, are exempt from background checks or a waiting period, Johnson said. Training often is minimal, limited to the manufacturer's DVD that comes with the purchase. Police officers usually undergo two weeks of training before they are allowed to carry devices, which can deliver a 5-second shock.
"This weapon can completely incapacitate most people," Johnson said. "It is dangerous in the hands of the untrained and unskilled."