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New York faces federal lawsuit over ‘unconstitutional’ Taser ban

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Photo Courtesy of Taser International via Getty Images

One New York mayor — along with the pro-Second Amendment Firearms Policy Foundation — is suing the state of New York over an "unconstitutional" regulation that forbids the possession of electronic weapons, including Tasers and stun guns.

According to court documents filed over the weekend, Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile wants to buy a Taser or a stun gun for home defense. The Firearms Policy Foundation and the mayor are suing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) and State Police Superintendent Lt. Col. George Beach.

"The Second Amendment absolutely protects the right of law-abiding people to buy and possess all arms in common use for self-defense, like Tasers," Brandon Combs, chairman of the foundation, told Guns.com. "We are more than happy to remind New York that the right to keep and bear arms prevails over paternalistic and unconstitutional statutes like theirs."

New York is one of five states that bars citizens from possessing Tasers and stun guns. The others are Hawaii, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Jersey. In the Empire State, simply having a Taser or stun gun is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in prison.

But Avitabile's lawyers — using the 2008 Washington, D.C. v. Heller Supreme Court case, which overturned a statute that blocked citizens from keeping a firearm in the home and made it legal for residents to store weapons so they can be readily available for self defense — argue that banning electronic weapons is a clear violation of the mayor's constitutionally protected rights:

Given the decision in Heller, Defendants may not completely ban the keeping and bearing of arms for self-defense that are not unusually dangerous, deny individuals the right to carry arms in non-sensitive places, deprive individuals of the right to keep or carry arms in an arbitrary and capricious manner, or impose regulations on the right to keep and carry arms that are inconsistent with the Second Amendment.

Avitabile's lawyers, Stephen Stamboulieh and Alan Beck, have similar legal cases pending in New Jersey and New Orleans. In November, New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino (R) admitted that his state's stun gun ban is a violation of the Second Amendment.

"We are pleased to be working to vindicate Mr. Avitabile’s Second Amendment civil rights and hope to expand the right to keep and bear arms for all law-abiding New York residents through this lawsuit," Stamboulieh told Guns.com.

Earlier in the year, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts high court ruling that upheld the conviction of a woman who was carrying a stun gun for protection from her abusive ex-boyfriend.

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