Politics & Government

Self-defense options expand in Tacoma after repeal of rare ban

Tacoma has dropped its ban on stun guns, like Tasers, meaning people can now legally buy, sell, carry, manufacture and own them within city limits.

The City Council voted to repeal the ban on Tuesday.

City legal staff recommended ending the ban following a 2016 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. That ruling effectively overturned the conviction of a Massachusetts woman who was found to be in possession of a Taser.

The nation’s high court found that Tasers and other electroshock devices are firearms, and as such are protected by the Second Amendment. In the wake of that decision, several municipalities nationwide have walked back bans on stun guns.

Earlier this year, a gun-rights advocacy group prodded the city with a letter, saying that Tacoma’s ban on Tasers and other stun guns violated the Second Amendment.

“We are one of only a handful of cities left in the United States that actually has this in their code,” city attorney Bill Fosbre said Tuesday. “We reviewed case law, looked at our own state constitution and made the determination that as written, our code would not sustain a challenge.”

Mayor Marilyn Strickland said the City Council is not promoting stun guns or their use but wanted to align itself with state and federal law.

The City Council originally approved the ban on stun guns — as well as butterfly knives and spiked-ball flails — in 2006 after neighborhood complaints about convenience stores selling swords, daggers and other weapons.

The ban on butterfly knives and flails remains in place.

Candice Ruud: 253-597-8441, @candiceruud