Suit Filed to Challenge DC’s Ban on Taser Ownership

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The Heller decision famously struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on civilian ownership of handguns. Still on the books: District residents still can’t own electroshock self defense devices, i.e. TASERs. But a newly filed lawsuit in the US District Court in Washington, DC aims to change all that. Here’s the press release from Arsenal Attorneys:

WASHINGTON, DC, AUG. 2, 2016–Today Arsenal Attorneys filed a suit in the US District Court in Washington, DC on behalf of three plaintiffs challenging the District of Columbia’s ban of Tasers® and other non-lethal electronic arms.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare DC’s ban on non-lethal electronic self-defense devices unconstitutional in violation of the Second Amendment. A successful outcome for the plaintiffs would likely to lead to repeal or challenges of similar anti-self-defense laws in other jurisdictions. Several states currently ban possession and/or carry of electronic arms, including New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Hawaii. In addition, a number of municipalities ban electronic arms, including Baltimore City and County and New Orleans, and various smaller cities across the country.

Arsenal Attorneys filed their clients’ case, Wright v. District of Columbia (Case Number 16-cv-1556), against the District of Columbia and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Kathy Lanier. An application for a preliminary injunction will be filed as soon as the defendants are served.

The lead plaintiff is Crystal Wright, a public relations professional, political commentator and author. Ms. Wright publishes a blog entitled “Conservative Black Chick.” She is also author of the newly released book by Regnery Publishing titled “Con Job: How Democrats Gave Us Crime, Sanctuary Cities, Abortion Profiteering, and Racial Division.” Court documents recite that Ms. Wright has been cyber-stalked and threatened for her outspoken political beliefs. Another plaintiff is Brendan Turner, who has twice been robbed at gunpoint in DC. The third plaintiff is Traci Dean, a nurse who often works late hours. All three plaintiffs want a Taser® to protect themselves in appropriate circumstances. Each applied to Taser® International to purchase a Taser® Pulse model and were denied based on DC law which prohibits a Taser® or stun gun just the same as an explosive like a grenade.

Ms. Wright originally considered a firearm for self-defense; however, the District of Columbia’s restrictive gun control laws made that a difficult and long process. Her parents suggested she obtain a stun gun as a short term, non-lethal solution. They were shocked when her attempt to purchase a Taser® online was barred by DC law.

Wright said, “The ban on these non-lethal weapons makes no sense given that it has been legal for several years for law-abiding citizens to use firearms, very lethal weapons, to protect themselves in the District of Columbia.” She continued, “Shooting another human being changes the lives of all involved, even when it is legally justified. There are extremely negative legal, social and psychological consequences I would prefer to avoid, if at all possible.”

The plaintiffs’ attorney, George Lyon, of Arsenal Attorneys, a national firearms and Second Amendment law firm based in Arlington, VA, said “The Supreme Court has clearly stated that the Second Amendment is not limited to guns. It extends to all arms commonly possessed and used for self-defense. That plainly includes Tasers®, which are legal in the vast majority of states in the country.”

According to Mr. Lyon, his clients’ case became stronger following a US Supreme Court decision in March reversing a Massachusetts conviction for possession of a stun gun on Second Amendment grounds. In that case, Caetano v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court held that the state court’s decision affirming the conviction was inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. Massachusetts ultimately dropped the charge against the defendant rather than defend its prohibition on stun guns.

Ultimately, attorney Lyon said, “The Taser ban is a remnant of DC’s anti- self-defense mindset that the Supreme Court rejected in the landmark Heller decision. It’s time for it to go.”

D.C. currently classifies Tasers and stun guns as “destructive devices” the same as bombs and poison gas. Attorney Lyon called that classification “nonsense, given that Tasers are not designed to kill or cause permanent injury.” He explained, “A Taser is designed to temporarily incapacitate an assailant so the intended victim can get away and call the police.

Police use these devices every day to subdue suspects without significant injury. The U.S. Justice Department has stated that police use of Tasers decrease injuries to both suspects and officers. Ordinary citizens should have access to this self-defense tool for the same reasons.” According to the Taser website, some 18,000 law enforcement agencies are equipped with the device and more than 275,000 Tasers have been sold to the public.

Attorney Lyon understands these issues first hand. He is a DC resident, and he was one of the original plaintiffs of the Heller v. District of Columbia, in which the Supreme Court held in 2008 that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess a firearm for self-defense within the home. Lyon was also a plaintiff in Palmer vs. District of Columbia, in which the DC Federal Court overturned DC’s complete ban on the carrying of firearms outside the home in 2014. In addition to his law practice, Lyon is a certified firearms instructor and self-defense expert. He regularly helps clients with gun ownership and carry permits in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

A GoFundMe drive has been launched to raise money to cover the plaintiffs legal fees and court costs for Wright v. DC and similar Second Amendment legal action.

For more information, contact: George L. Lyon, Jr. 800-670-3575, or Crystal Wright, 202-549-8072

comments

  1. avatar JohnF says:

    OK, we get it Dan. TTAG is shilling for Taser®, especially the Taser Pulse pictured, which this site has already given more coverage to than it deserves. Way to monetize the blog.

    Everyone knows DC is not a place to be unless you want to be a sheep ripe for the kill. The fact that anyone has to sue to get a NON-LETHAL weapon there and there were pathetically few numbers of people who applied for CC permits when they were available shows that DC residents are nothing more than Eloi cattle waiting to be butchered by the criminals that are their Morlock masters. They are not worthy of notice or concern by people who believe in the Constitution.

    1. We have no financial relationship with TASER at all. Never have. They’re not an advertiser and we always identify sponsored content clearly.

      1. avatar JohnF says:

        I believe you, but I have to wonder why you’re acting like you’re shilling for them. You must just be enamored of the the Taser Pulse for whatever reason I cannot imagine. You’re missing an opportunity, because they should be paying you.

        1. avatar barnbwt says:

          If TASERs are ruled by a court to be in “common use,” it becomes impossible to argue even more common pistols & rifles are NOT in “common use”

    2. avatar Ing says:

      OR…maybe it’s legitimate second-amendment news. A small step toward restoring civil rights in hostile territory, and all that.

    3. avatar George Lyon says:

      Most people did not apply for permits because of the onerous good cause showing DC imposed. At the very beginning, before the DC Circuit issued a stay, my DC gun law classes required for a permit were overflowing with students. That stopped immediately after the DC Circuit stayed Judge Scullin’s decision in the Wrenn case throwing out the good cause requirement.

  2. avatar c4v3man says:

    I overheard a female gun store clerk on the phone:
    “Yes, we have Tasers.
    (pause)
    No, I don’t know how many volts they are, I carry a gun instead. I don’t worry about that BS.”

    While I think you should be knowledgeable about the things you sell, it gave me a good chuckle.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      But, but, the foot-pounds-per-second, woman! Can’t escape the minutia

  3. DC would make it illegal to defend yourself in any way if they could get away with it.

  4. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    Johnny,  so nice of you to pontificate on Ms. Wright’s and other’s struggle to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights with your H.G. Wells’ “Time Machine” references. 

    Since “They are not worthy of notice or concern by people who believe in the Constitution.”, then perhaps you should keep your thoughts to yourself? By what order or grant of authority were you appointmented to judge? Obviously Ms. Wright believes in the Constitution,  that’s the whole point of the article. 

    Should others like me “who believe in the Constitution” have no problem with the government exercising eminent domain on your property just because it bothers you,  but the Supreme Court has ruled it Constitutional?

    Stay in your “Free State” or wherever, the rest of us will stand with Crystal Wright.

    1. avatar JohnF says:

      By my First Amendment rights, I can voice my opinion, even if it is a judgement, just as you can. If I can’t, then you can’t either. See how that works?

      1. avatar Smoke Jensen says:

        Is your name really John or Chip Shoulder? Do you work for Taser’s competitor or do you like to bitch?

        1. avatar JohnF says:

          Ah, ad hominem attacks. The refuge of people who are ass-hurt but have no argument. Just like the Brady Bunch and the MDA.

        2. avatar Geoff PR says:

          How about answering his question?

          Do you have any type of relationship with a business competitor of Taser?

          (And as you can see, there are no ‘ad hominem’ attacks in my comment…)

        3. avatar JohnF says:

          No, I didn’t even know Taser had a competitor. I don’t work in the weapons industry at all. And I’m not sure why the question was asked. I never said anything negative about the Taser.

  5. avatar anonymoose says:

    I love the idea that you can kill someone breaking into your house, raping you, or assaulting you, but if you use nonlethal force to get them to stop then suddenly you’re the bad guy in the eyes of the law. Something about “if you don’t show to the court that you felt the threat to your life was serious enough to use lethal force, then you shouldn’t use any force at all” (and in “liberal” places it’s just “that poor child dindunuffin so you must hand over your property, life, and anal-virginity, you evil, privileged, melanin-deficient oppressor!”). I suppose an expected-Democrat-voter’s life isn’t valuable enough to capture him and try to actually “reform” him in our overburdened for-profit prison system if he goes and commits a violent crime, so the government just expects us to end his miserable existence with buckshot, and even then will complain about it.

  6. avatar Coconut says:

    Frankly, given the advances in long distance teleconferencing, the District of Columbia has become redundant. The Congress should meet online in a fully webcast scenario. Representatives and Senators should reside in their districts. Government offices should be scattered around the nation in a pattern similar to the circuit courts. Embassies are redundant too, close them and use email for communications. Most embassy employees are probably spying on us. Essential main government offices should be moved inland to a central location and somewhere a ship delivered nuke cannot obliterate them.

    Give the present D.C. land and citizens residing there back to Maryland and let them tax and develop it.

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      I like everything you said, except that giving DC to Maryland would not improve conditions there.

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