Michigan House votes to lift state’s ban against stun guns

Michigan would lift its ban on stun guns under legislation advanced by lawmakers on Tuesday....
Michigan would lift its ban on stun guns under legislation advanced by lawmakers on Tuesday. (Source WILX) (WILX)
Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 4:03 PM EST
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Michigan would lift its ban on stun guns under legislation advanced by lawmakers on Tuesday.

State Rep. Michele Hoitenga’s plan to allow people to use and possess stun guns in Michigan was approved by the House with bipartisan support.

The bill would allow the sale, possession and “reasonable use” of a stun device by those 18 and older.

Foxhole PX store manager Tyler Carpenter said people are interested stun guns.

"A lot of people ask about them and are pretty confused about why they are not legal and I can never offer a good explanation," said Foxhole PX store manager Tyler Carpenter.

Michigan currently allows law enforcement and people with a concealed pistol license to use a Taser, which is a different type of self-defense device than a stun gun.

A Taser can be used from a distance, while a stun gun requires direct contact with an attacker.

“Many people are uncomfortable carrying firearms and would prefer to instead carry a stun gun for self-defense,” said Hoitenga, of Manton. “Stun guns are a good, non-lethal way for people to protect themselves from violence – and there’s absolutely no reason to continue banning them in Michigan.”

"The stun gun when it is activated, makes a very loud clicking noise. That itself might deter the criminals," said Carpenter.

The Michigan State Police doesn't support the bill because safety concerns were left out of the bill.

"It would allow convicted felons to posses one of those, as well as people who are untrained. That's our primary concern," said MSP Lt. Brian Olesksyk.

The Republican-led Senate will consider the measure next after it cleared the GOP-controlled House on an 84-24 vote, with some Democrats in opposition.

Supporters said the stun gun ban contradicts several court rulings and argued that people may prefer nonlethal forms of protection over guns. The state police has said Michigan’s law is constitutional because it not a strict ban since Tasers are allowed, according to an analysis conducted by the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency.

“The safety of our residents is not a partisan issue,” Hoitenga said. “It’s time to give our residents access to this effective and non-lethal option for defending themselves.”

However, Lt. Olesksyk said stun guns could be putting people in danger.

"If your attacker is going to attack you, and you pull out a stun gun to defend yourself, he can use that against you."

Someone who is authorized to have a stun gun but who improperly uses it to disable someone would face a a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years of incarceration.

A person who illegally sells or possesses a stun gun would face a four-year felony.

House Bill 4020 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.