New York Ban on Tasers

One topic that not many people know about is the legality of tasers and stun guns across the country. New York is one of the handful of states which have banned them and people wonder why. They seem like relatively innocuous albeit effective self-defense weapons, so why are they banned?

My thought on the ban is that New York generally carries a stance of banning as many weapons as they can. New York and California have the strictest restrictions on firearms in the country. New York also has bans on a bunch of other weapons including nunchucks, throwing stars, slingshots and many other devices that realistically are rarely used as weapons. New York City even has a ban on aluminum bats at high school baseball games. It’s safe to say that they take an exceptionally protective stance on weapons in the state. If the 2nd amendment weren’t such a high-profile and volatile issue, I’d be inclined to think they’d ban firearms entirely if they could.

One issue that citizens have with this law is the fact that while citizens are banned from carrying tasers and stun guns, the police are not. Many people wonder why they aren’t allowed to carry this non-lethal weapon which is one of the most commonly deployed tools used by the police force. Now, the argument isn’t that police should not be allowed to carry them. The argument is that people should at least be able to have a stun gun available for home defense, especially in New York City where firearms aren’t exactly illegal but the hoops one must jump through to obtain the proper licensing for firearm possession are quite involved.

Applicants must be at least 21 years old, free of a felony conviction or "serious" offense, of good moral character, and not have had a previous license revoked. Applicants must also state whether they have suffered severe mental illness or been institutionalized or hospitalized for such an illness. Permit issuers may deny a license based on that history. The one that sticks out in my mind is the part about “good moral character”. I can understand the intention there but I also see a stipulation with a huge amount of “what-ifs” and room for error.

Recent reports show that about a million people in New York City own guns. With a total population of 8.4 million, that means about 12% of the city owns a firearm. The national average is more like 35%, just to put that in perspective. So even though these strict limitations on who can own a firearm exist, there are still citizens who feel the need to have a weapon in their home. If New York City has such a tough stance on firearms and people still have them, why is it out of the question to have a similar set of rules at least for people to own a non-lethal stun gun in their home?