Louisiana Record

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Stun-gun suit against New Orleans claims 2nd Amendment rights

By Kerry Goff | Nov 18, 2016

NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans resident has filed a suit against the city and the superintendent of police over a local ban on stun guns, claiming it violates his Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

According to court documents, John Ford filed the suit on Nov. 17 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against the city of New Orleans and Police Superintendent Michael S. Harrison in response to a municipal code. Ford is seeking to have New Orleans’ stun-gun ban declared unconstitutional and unenforceable, as well to have his court costs and legal fees covered.

According to the City of New Orleans law, Article VI, Div. 2, Sec. 54-339 on municode.com, residents are not allowed to “sell, manufacture, purchase, possess or carry any blackjack, sandclub, metal knuckles, switchblade knife or spring knife, iron buckle, zip gun or stun gun.”

“Louisiana law permits the use of stun guns for self-defense without obtaining a permit,” a Nov. 23 Times-Picayune article said. “But local laws vary.”

The official court document for the suit uses the Second Amendment as defense.

“A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” the suit said, citing the amendment.

The suit continues to cite additional verdicts in other states that have found stun-gun bans unconstitutional, including cases in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts. Ford’s attorneys further stress the differences between law enforcement stun guns and civilian models.

“A Taser is an electronic control device (ECD) that uses replaceable cartridges containing inert, compressed nitrogen to fire two small probes that are attached to insulated conductive wires,” the court document said. “In the models generally marketed to non-law enforcement persons, the conductive wires are 15 feet (4.5 meter) in length. 18. Taser models generally marketed to law enforcement agencies use conductive wires with lengths up to 25 feet in length.”

The suit also argues that stun guns have several advantages over other non-lethal means of self-defense, such as self-defense sprays or contact weapons.

“First, self-defense sprays must be administered generally within several feet of an assailant while a civilian model Taser can be deployed within 15 feet,” the court document said. “The closer distance the assailant must be to a potential victim for the victim to employ a self-defense spray increases the danger to the potential victim.”

The Times-Picayune article said that Ford argues that his interested in obtaining a stun gun is to avoid lethal force while he also protects himself.

"In New Orleans, he has all the means in the world to defend himself," Alan Alexander Beck, Ford’s attorney, said in The Times-Picayune article. "Assuming he wants to, he could easily get a gun. He'd just rather not kill somebody."

This suit follows reports that New Orleans has, again, ranked as one of the most violent cities in the United States, according to a September 2016 report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the Times-Picayune.

“Murders and non-negligent manslaughter increased 10.8 percent last year compared to estimates from 2014, while rapes and aggravated assaults increased 6.3 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively,” a Sept. 26 Times-Picayune article said.

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City of New Orleans