WASHINGTON - New restrictions on firearms in Maryland may have sparked an increased interest in stun guns.
On Monday, Anne Arundel County became the latest jurisdiction in the state to legalize the use of stun guns by civilians since the state law was changed to allow them four years ago.
The county council voted 4-3 to reverse a 1985 ban on the weapons.
Councilman Derek Fink, who sponsored the new law, says stun guns are designed as a non-lethal form of self-defense that is needed at a time when the state is tightening its gun laws.
"My intention was just to provide that option [to] give folks the opportunity to still provide self-defense without going as far as having a handgun," he says.
The nature of the use of the stun gun matters, though. They are supposed to be for self-defense only, and aggressive use could land you in jail for up to three years.
Prince George's and Montgomery counties also allow civilians to own stun guns.
In Virginia, such devices are legal statewide for anyone who can legally carry a firearm. Those convicted of a crime can not legally own one, and stun guns are prohibited at all Virginia schools.
The weapons come with operating instructions and proponents say it's important for owners to learn how to use the weapons properly.
There are a number of types of "conductive energy weapons," as they are called, but the rules for using them are the same.
Some stun guns have to make contact with a person before they can stun them. Others shoot out electrical wires that must make contact before they are effective.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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