Officials in the Garden State are now moving to allow ownership and use of stun guns in the aftermath of a successful lawsuit from gun rights advocates.
A letter issued by New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino last week provides guidance to law enforcement across New Jersey on the state’s new stun gun laws after the end of a public comment period by state police.
While those 18-years of age or older can possess the devices, their use would still be a violation for minors as would the sale of stun guns or Tasers to those underage. Also, use of an electronic weapon in a crime or carry on a school campus without written authorization is still illegal, according to Porrino.
The change of course came after a legal challenge was brought last August by Mark Cheeseman, joined with the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, after he attempted to buy a Taser online and was refused by the company, citing New Jersey law that prohibited them from selling the device in the state. Under law in the New Jersey at the time, possession of stun devices by non-law enforcement personnel was punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Attorneys for the advocates, Stephen Stamboulieh and Alan Beck, pointed out the flaws in the state’s law when compared to the 2008 Heller decision as well as Caetano, a 2016 Supreme Court case directly concerning stun guns that held the electric devices were bearable arms protected by the Second Amendment.
Porrino, named in his official capacity as a defendant in the New Jersey lawsuit, agreed in April to stop fighting the case and in June came to an agreement with the plaintiffs, citing that the state intended to change the law within 180 days.
“Congratulations are in order to the citizens of New Jersey as they now have additional options with which to defend themselves and their loved ones,” said Stamboulieh in a statement.
Annie Pratt, director of consumer products for Taser said New Jerseyans scored a victory when the ban was lifted. “We’re excited to introduce our products to New Jersey in the coming weeks and months,” said Pratt, in an email. “The new regulations will allow us to help fill a void for New Jersey residents who haven’t had a viable, non-firearm option for defense.”
Pratt pointed out that Tasers also provide self-defense for runners, hikers, and active people who may not be comfortable owning guns.
Meanwhile, across the river in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love is moving to jettison their own largely unenforced ban on stun guns. Proposed changes will allow Philadelphia residents over the age of 18 to legally own and possess the devices for the first time since 1977.