Appeals court strikes down ban on stun guns

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- Michigan can't stop people from owning stun guns or Tasers, the state appeals court said Wednesday in a decision that comes just weeks before a new law allows limited possession.

A broad prohibition that has been in effect for years violates the right to bear arms in the Michigan and U.S. constitutions, the court said.

The decision involved cases from eastern and western Michigan. In Bay City, a store employee was carrying a stun gun while he worked behind the counter. In Muskegon, a stun gun was seized from a man at his home.

Stun guns send a powerful shock that can knock someone to the ground. They are commonly carried by police and used to subdue unruly people.

"The prosecution argues that stun guns are not suited for lawful defensive purposes, and that they can easily be used for torturing someone tied to a chair or incapacitating an unsuspecting victim. This argument is unavailing," the three-judge panel said.

"One could easily produce an even lengthier list of criminal cases involving handguns, but the Supreme Court has determined that handguns are within the ambit of the Second Amendment," said judges Douglas Shapiro, Michael Kelly and Kurtis Wilder.

A new Michigan law that starts Aug. 6 would allow people to have stun guns if they also have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. That change was not at issue at the appeals court. It's possible that the new law could be challenged as too restrictive in light of the court's decision.

"I would tell somebody to comply with the new statute," said Ken Malkin, a defense attorney who won the case.

A Massachusetts-based group called Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment had urged the appeals court to strike down Michigan's ban.

"Michigan rightly allows people to possess and carry guns," attorney Michael F. Smith wrote. "But different people have different self-defense needs, and they should be able to choose other means of defending themselves as well, especially when those means are much less deadly than guns."

Published: Fri, Jun 29, 2012