Stun Gun Ban Revisited

Update, June 28, 2018

This issue was addressed in the conference report on the Extreme Risk Protective Order bill. The report goes back to my original proposal of treating stun guns as “firearms” for licensing purposes, in other words, they will require a license to carry.   I moved off this proposal because many regulations pertaining to firearms do not make sense as applied to stun guns.  The conferees chose instead to carve out exceptions to those regulations.


Image of the Gillio Firearms Taser Pulse Stun Gun from the Gillio website

A recent SJC decision is forcing the legislature to replace the current ban on stun guns. We were prepared when the new decision came down.

Current Massachusetts law prohibits the use of electrical weapons:

No person shall possess a portable device or weapon from which an electrical current, impulse, wave or beam may be directed, which current, impulse, wave or beam is designed to incapacitate temporarily, injure or kill, except: . . . a federal, state or municipal law enforcement officer . . ..

This law was challenged as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment, but our Supreme Judicial Court upheld it in 2015. Our court concluded that since stun guns did not exist at the time the Second Amendment right to bear arms was created, the Second Amendment does not apply to stun guns:

The ban on the private possession of stun guns will not burden conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment if a stun gun is a weapon not “in common use at the time” of enactment of the Second Amendment and would be dangerous per se at common law without another, primary use, i.e., as a tool. . . . [T]here can be no doubt that a stun gun was not in common use at the time of enactment, and it is not the type of weapon that is eligible for Second Amendment protection.

However, on further appeal, in a very interesting example of the idea that old constitutional principles apply to new technologies, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned that decision. The U.S. court criticized our court’s decision saying:

. . . the [Massachusetts] court explained that stun guns are not protected because they “were not in common use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment.” . . . This is inconsistent with Heller’s [a previous U.S. case] clear statement that the Second Amendment “extends . . . to . . . arms . . . that were not in existence at the time of the founding.”

After reviewing this guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court, our Supreme Judicial Court recently issued an opinion finding our stun gun ban unconstitutional.

This result was inevitable in light of the Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion and we have been expecting it. Last year, I filed a bill that would repeal the ban and regulate stun guns as firearms.

Over the past year, we’ve been consulting with advocates of gun control as well as with gun owner advocates to refine our new approach. Some made the objection that many of the safety regulations applicable to firearms do not really make sense as to stun guns. For example, our laws state that a firearm cannot be sold in the Commonwealth if it:

Has a frame, . . . that is composed of: (i) any metal having a melting point of less than 900 degrees Fahrenheit; (ii) any metal having an ultimate tensile strength of less than 55,000 pounds per square inch; or (iii) any powdered metal having a density of less than 7.5 grams per cubic centimeter.

This language is, of course, intended to protect consumers from explosions — explosions are not a risk for stun guns.

Another important point is that there are really two different kinds of electrical weapons on the market today. True stun guns are sort of like cattle prods — you touch them to someone and cause pain. By contrast, Tasers shoot darts that can discharge current into somebody who is many feet away. Both tend to be referred to as “stun guns” and are readily available online, but tasers are a much more dangerous weapon.

We concluded that treating all electrical weapons as firearms was too simple. We settled on the following alternative: We will simply require that to purchase a taser, one should have a license to carry firearms. To purchase a stun gun, one should have a firearms ID card. Licenses to carry can only be obtained after a discretionary review by police chiefs. The FID card is readily obtainable for anyone who can pass a background check. (More on gun law basics at this link.)

The week before the new opinion came out, the Joint Committee on Public Safety approved and reported out a redraft implementing this two-tiered approach.. When the opinion came out, the Committee Chair, Senator Michael Moore issued the following statement:

The recent SJC ruling on the legality of electronic weapons has created a significant gap in the Commonwealth’s oversight of these devices. While the court ruled a wholesale ban of electronic weapons was unconstitutional, the Commonwealth has a duty to provide a reasonable level of regulation to ensure the use of electronic weapons is consistent with our public safety objectives.

The Joint Committee on Public Safety considered several bills this session that would establish new regulations for these devices. On April 13, the Committee favorably reported a redrafted version of S.1283 an Act relative to electrical defensive devices, filed by Senator William Brownsberger. The legislation incorporates regulation of electronic weapons into the existing firearm statute, providing necessary oversight that is in line with the SJC decision.

Following the SJC decision, the legislature must act quickly to enact new regulations to promote public safety. S.1283 offers the Senate an important opportunity to continue this discussion and I hope that the bill will advance through the legislative process in a timely fashion.

I look forward to working Senator Moore to get the replacement for the ban implemented swiftly. The Supreme Judicial Court stayed the effect of its decision for 60 days, until June 16, but in truth, the ban is already unenforceable.

Informal Poll Results

It’s always hard to gauge overall sentiment reading through comments — sometimes a particular group is especially vocal.  I got some initial negative comments on this piece that surprised me, so I did a poll of people on my mailing list.

The email I sent read as follows:

As a result of court decisions striking down our ban on stun guns, stun guns will be unregulated in Massachusetts unless the legislature acts to create a licensing scheme.

Stun guns include batons that shock people when you poke them. They also include tasers which shoot darts which shock people.

Please click the statement that best summarizes your views:

I feel that stun guns should be available to adults without any background checking or licensing.

I feel that there should be some degree of background checking and required licensing for stun guns.

You’ll have the opportunity to elaborate your views by commenting at the link you get to by responding. If you feel that neither option is close to your views, you can go directly to comment here [link to this post].

Of 723 who responded within 48 hours, the sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of regulation:

  • 83% in favor of background checking and licensing;
  • 8% against background checking and licensing;
  • 9% not sure.

I also ran the same poll on facebook and got a similar result 83% for and 17% against (only 54 responding).

I took the position outlined in this piece without doing any polling, but I’m pleased to find that my constituents generally agree with it.

Response to comments — April 29

Thanks to all who have commented here. I respect the varying perspectives.

I am grateful for the dialog.  I will move forward in the process better informed as a result.

Some responses and reflections:

  • Revival of the ban is definitely off the table — the Supreme Court has made that clear.
  • I continue to feel that some or all of these electronic weapons should require licensing.  The overwhelming majority of my constituents agree.
  • Tasers should require a license to carry (or perhaps only an FID, but definitely some level of licensing and background checking).  Tasers are distinctly dangerous.
  • It is more debatable how batons that deliver shocks should be regulated.
  • I take the point that the internal discharge counter may not be necessary. I also take the point that the penalties should be moderate.

License to Carry vs Firearms Identification Card?

Please see this Massachusetts post which explains the greater flexibility that comes with an LTC.

The FID is easier to get. A police chief . . .

shall issue [an FID card] if it appears that the applicant is not a prohibited person.

The qualification to this that came out of our 2014 reform was that a police chief can petition a court for the right to deny an FID card.

By contrast, a police chief . . .

may issue [an LTC] if it appears that the applicant is not a prohibited person as set forth in this section to be issued a license and that the applicant has good reason to fear injury to the applicant or the applicant’s property or for any other reason, including the carrying of firearms for use in sport or target practice only, subject to the restrictions expressed or authorized under this section.

More on FID’s and LTC’s as affected by our 2014 changes here.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

146 replies on “Stun Gun Ban Revisited”

  1. Will,

    Why didn’t the legislature act after the SCOTUS decision was handed down? Why did the SJC simply vacate the Caetano conviction and wait for another case?

    Further, the SJC originally decided the Caetano case partially on the basis that tasers/stun guns have no valid use in a militia. Considering the state’s assault weapon laws, this is pretty bogus logic.

    If it’s not obvious, the aggregate position here induces a lot of cynicism for those of us who look at all of it.

    Also, I believe you’re incorrect on FIDs at this point. They’re subject to the same discretion as LTCs. Further, as you know “LTC” is a bit of a misnomer as the police chief has discretion over whether or not a person can conceal carry. Will a person with an FID be able to carry a stun gun?

  2. Will, why do they need to be regulated at all? Use of them in a crime would seem to be covered by existing “assault & battery with a weapon” laws at a minimum. Possession of them by felon is probably covered somewhere else as well. It seems additional regulation would only discourage those who might consider a non-lethal device for self-defense or those like a college student who cannot possess a firearm at school.

  3. Hey Will, eventually all state-level “licenses to carry” or “concealed carry permits” will be declared unconstitutional. The 2nd Amendment requires no permit. Enjoy the bureaucracy while it lasts 🙂

  4. Will, Mrs. Caetano was a homeless woman which because of a lack of a permanent address could not obtain even a FID card under the current licensing scheme. Chief’s discretion, which was expanded from Licenses to Carry to include FID cards in 2014, could allow by letter of the MGL for lawful discrimination against an otherwise qualified individual on the basis of homelessness (chief’s judgement that a homeless person has poor judgement and thus isn’t suitable). Furthermore a few cities/towns do not issue carry licenses to wealthy business owners, doctors, lawyers, and law enforcement with “no carry license-to-carry” policies. How will any legislation address this equal protection under the law issue? The SJC’s opinion seems to try to limit self defense to within the home, but isn’t that discriminating against those without a home? The legislation as proposed now would still place Mrs. Caetano in the same exact position she was before the state appealing up to the SCotUS because she would not be able to obtain a license

    1. Should have read, “…do not issue carry licenses EXCEPT to wealthy…”

      I don’t see why these need to be regulated any differently than mace is now for all the equal protection issues mentioned above.

  5. The reasonableness of state law escapes me sometimes. this is a good example. I can understand a taser being potentially a lethal weapon, but stun gun? I look at this as infringing on one’s right to defend one’s self. I think the laws should be written on how/where they are carried and (mis)used. i.e not in public and the penalties should be similar to that of a firearm. But the very possession. does not pass the smell test

  6. Treat stun guns/tasers the same as MACE.

    Also allow a person who has a LTC to purchase a so called “assault weapon”.

    It’s been shown over and over again, that a criminal does not care about gun laws. Stop punishing the law abiding citizens of the commonwealth

  7. I worry that those drafting these bills may greatly underestimate how widely such devices are currently, for defensive purposes, in the possession of young ladies in the Commonwealth who are unlikely to promptly learn about and comply with the statute. Penalties like these seems severely excessive:
    “shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or by imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 1/2 years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

    To quote from an 11/11/2016 letter I sent to you and Senator Chang-Diaz,

    “To paraphrase Senator Brownsberger’s words about marijuana: ‘There are too many ways that people can get in trouble with the criminal justice system and [stun gun possession] should not be among them.'”

    “I’m relatively far on the spectrum towards favoring gun control, but in respect to stun guns feel much more ambivalent. I sympathize with the fear and vulnerability that youngsters feel when they are involved in many highly volatile relationships and want something for self-protection to ward off rather than create danger, to keep situations from becoming physically violent rather than to hurt anyone.”

    […]

    “My tendency is to think that it would make sense now to decriminalize stun gun possession, treating the devices more like mace/pepper spray, except more intensively
    discouraging purchase, including via requirements for safety training to convey an understanding of the especially serious harms that can proceed from their misuse.”

    Might it not be feasible to initially go with just a civil penalty, a fine that could be worked off via community service? An intensive public education program? An amnesty with a stun gun turn in/buyback program?

  8. Thanks, Will, for your thorough, thoughtful, clear analysis of all sides of the issue. Pat

  9. Why do you feel the need to regulate electronic self defense tools *at all*?

    The vast majority of states don’t regulate stun guns of any sort in any form.

    Who are you protecting from whom with this? Do you seriously think someone who is willing to deliberately do harm to someone else is going to use a Taser or stun gun, and not a knife or a real gun? Do you really think they’re going to get a license for it? That’s ridiculous on its surface.

    Given the dissimilarity between actual real guns and electric “stun guns”, how do you plan to normalize the laws so they make sense? Trigger locks? Safe storage? Gun free zones? Arbitrary license restrictions?

    You need to think this through and see who this will make vulnerable, who it will protect, and from whom.

  10. I think this bill is short sighted – you leave a population that is totally unable to defend themselves and frankly a stun gun is safer than a weapon that discharges a projectile. Further more – many doctors offices have such devices that plug into a wall and can be used defibrillator – and in fact all defibrillator could come under this bill as well. Also Electronic components such as high voltage capacitors – Time to scrap this and just let them be legal for all – enough of the baby sitting – The commonwealth does not need to regulate every little thing

  11. Thanks Will. I hope this replacement is moved forward quickly. Massachusetts is such a safe state because we think these things through for the safety of the public and use available data.

  12. You’re not seeing the forest for the trees here, Billiam. The worst thing you can do is try to regulate something that is over-the-counter in 45 other states. Your bill is mirroring what red states do in terms of marijuana. They don’t like weed, we don’t like weapons. Break the cycle and do the right thing. Do you really want a young lady to be relegated to having to physically contact her attacker versus keeping him down at a distance and possibly giving her a chance to run away with a head start?

    We might as well go all the way like London and ban all knives and say you can only have a rape alarm as self-defense ( https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/20985-self-defense-in-the-uk-is-illegal )

    Realize that you legislate in America, not England. Not everything needs to be like a policy from Human Resources.

  13. Whether it is a fist, a knife, a gun, a taser, a stun gun, any weapon that is used to hurt, restrain or kill an apparent law-abiding citizen should be illegal.

    Heller v. Washington DC, which was the case cited by the U.S.Supreme Court to overturn the Mass law was retrograde. It was the worst decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia. He didn’t mind that guns killed people or the death penalty, because he believed that there is life after death.

  14. It seems that any regulation of weapons attracts the same stale arguments and taunts that we’ve heard over and over. Thanks, Will, for working with your colleagues to come up with a solution to the issue of electronic weapons.

    The research is overwhelmingly clear that more weapons in circulation and fewer restrictions on their possession generally correlate with more deaths and injuries. Massachusetts is a prime example. Regulation saves lives, including in the category of gun violence that 2nd Amendment extremists don’t like to talk about: suicide.

    I know you need a thick skin to be a legislator even in a state that is progressive. I appreciate the determination you’ve shown over the years.

  15. Regulation could, at the very least, keep these things out of domestic violence situations.

    1. Or prevent people from using them to defend themselves. The case that went to the Supreme Court was a woman who was the victim of domestic violence.

  16. The legislature needs to find a way aournd the Supreme Court decision. Whatever that approach is, it should be as strong as the current rulings allow it to be.

  17. Will: I appreciate the effort you have put into this and agree with your two tier approach. Thanks, Shippen

  18. Especially if it turns out that most respondents favor background checks and licensing, I hope you will ask the follow up survey question as to whether violations should result in 1) civil penalties with fines, education, and confiscation or instead 2) criminal penalties including jail time of up to 2 1/2 years for simple possession of a device.

  19. I would like to see stun guns limited to those without convictions of violent crimes. I fear they will not be used in self defense but as offensive weapons to commit domestic abuse, robbery, rape, against officers, etc. They totally incapacitate for some period of time and in the right conditions, can kill.

  20. It is somewhat troubling that this case had to go to SCOTUS, when ” This is inconsistent with Heller’s [a previous U.S. case] clear statement that the Second Amendment “extends . . . to . . . arms . . . that were not in existence at the time of the founding.” Given that the SCOTUS decision was unanimous, hard for me to avoid the conclusion that SJC was doing something other than reading the law.

  21. Until this court decision can be overruled, I support a high degree of background checking and required licensing.

    1. No
      Licensing is no longer required for pepper spray. It has been that way since August 2014 and here we are nearly four years later and mace has not been used to the arm-flapping degree going on here. Think about it, you did not even know the law changed in pepper spray and the sky did not fall. Imagine that.

  22. I don’t know enough about stun guns. However, it would not surprise me that they could surprise, shock and cause other distress to people and perhaps serious reactions and could easily be misused. Therefore, I support sensible regulations.

  23. Why would someone need a stun gun! I liked the argument that stun guns were not around when the second amendment was written, so they are they not a right. I’m so tired of guns and gun violence. When the second amendment was written, no one could have imagined the world we live in. or the weapons that we have access too. Times have changed, we need the laws to change as well.

    1. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of the United States UNANIMOUSLY disagreed. Yes, including RBG, Elena Kagan, etc. They called your argument “frivolous”. (Like saying the First Amendment doesn’t apply to the Internet because it didn’t exist in 1780.) Read the case and see for yourself.

  24. What use do these weapons have in the hands of ordinary citizens? They should be highly regulated.

  25. It seems these fall in between pepper spray/mace and a fire arm relative to dangerousness and use as a defensive versus offense weapon. I believe there is still some kind of licensing required for pepper spray and mace – although I’m not certain how different it might be from a fire arm – maybe a FID card. There should at least be some kind of background check for anyone to own these.

  26. I feel that ownership and use of stun guns, tasers and similar electronic weapons should be strictly regulated. I don’t know enough about the various technological features or functional comparisons with other guns and weaponry to comment on specific regulatory controls or legislative proposals – but I feel that is in the interest of all the people of our Commonwealth and our individual and communal safety to institute a new regulatory regimen and as tight a set of restrictions as the constitution will allow.

  27. Guns are bad enough…… now we stun/taser guns…… WOW !

    Having regulations must be for all gun type weapons !

    Stun / taser guns should be treated as weapons /guns…..need back ground checks , license, training, etc ,

    What about laws/ unlawful…. using these weapon ? Fines ? Jail time ….. felony? Etc ,

  28. I don’t think anyone but police should have these, and they should be trained ahead of time. I can imagine these even causing heart attacks in some vulnerable people, and also these are likely to be abused. Also if someone got out that gun you picture quickly, it would look like a real gun to many people and then they might shoot their own real gun.There must be a safer way to protect ourselves, and we should find it. Enough guns. I also recommend a public education campaign in kindness, empathy, and the golden rule, and taking measures to de-stress us all such as building more parks and having better noise laws so people can calm down at least at home or in a park. (Please see my blog if you get a chance–The Serene City–theserenecity.com, and I also write extensively about this in my book I hope will be published soon–called Stress in the American City. Research shows we are all way too stressed by the chaos and difficulties of big city life–bad traffic, noise, crime, drugs, lately increased rudeness and meanness, etc. I think a public PR campaign is the way to go plus again give us some peace with parks and decreased leaf-blowers and aircraft flyovers so we can be in our own gardens–(more gardens will calm the neighborhood! Come see ours–it’s on Watertown’s Life-Friendly garden tour every year! Only we can barely stand to be in it to take care of it due to leaf-blowers of others, people doing construction all week including weekends at all hours, helicopters, etc. This is stressful! Also poor areas need gardens and parks–research shows nature helps reduce crime!–Susan Cooke, researcher on public health and wellbeing

    1. The above comment is perhaps the best example of the toxic white liberal. All control is to be laid at the feet of the government and as long as you’re a good neutered little serf you will be in good graces. I can clearly see why the Democratic Left championed Jim Crow laws as a way to neuter us free people of color. Susan, not all people need to be controlled no matter how much you wish to crack the whip or tighten the shackles.

  29. No need for anyone other than law enforcement to own a taser. A stun gun is more of a defensive weapon and all that should be needed is a strong background check.

  30. The SJC decision on stun guns is disappointing. Stun guns are an offensive weapon. Why would an ordinary citizen need such a weapon? Unfortunately, the 2nd amendment has morphed into a disease upon American citizenry — that kills. I grew up with rifles and a shotgun in our home which was meant for hunting for meat for the family. Now, guns are for killing people and they do.
    As far as stun guns they should be regulated as much as possible to keep them from becoming yet another weapon applied against the American citizenry.

  31. I do not believe possession of stun guns by private citizens should be allowed under Mass. law. They should only be legal for a very strictly defined class of professional use (law enforcement, for example) and there should be mandated training at the time or before such licenses are granted. The law should require license renewal at regular intervals to ensure that the individual is still employed in the permitted activity.

  32. No one but police should have stun guns or tasers. Thanks for working on this important issue. I thInk the founding fathers would be “stunned” by how their 2nd amendment has been interpreted today.

  33. Ther needs to be regulation for stun guns and tasers. Tasers have caused numerous deaths since 2000. The darts and voltage have caused cardiac arrest. Any weapon that can be lethal rerequires training an d regulation Even though stun guns are less lethal they too should be regulated in some form.,

    Heller did not say that there is an absolute right tor arms but in essence said state can enact reasonable regulations.

  34. These are defensive weapons, there is no need to regulate them at all. Regulation of these will cost lives.

  35. Any tool that is designed to hurt other people or animals should be seriously regulated, and background checks should certainly be part of that regulation.

    1. Jane,

      The Supreme Court unanimously found that that stun guns and tasers should be legal. This decision was based on a case where the police were incapable of enforcing a restraining order against a highly abusive ex boyfriend.

      How would you recommend a woman in that situation protect herself?

  36. My feeling is that hand held electrical weapons should not be regulated. I do not see that much of a public safety threat as compared to their usefulness as self defense tools. They are particularly effective for those of small stature facing a larger attacker. I do think that Tasers, or any device that throws a projectile capable of producing a debilitating shock should be highly regulated.These are in a very different category than hand held devices and can be used as an offensive weapon if the possessor so chose. They should be regulated the same as handguns because they are capable of producing deadly force in the wrong hands. There is little justification in allowing unrestricted possession of Tasers.

  37. How could there even be a question about the need for background checks?! Allowing total freedom to purchase stun guns with no background check is irresponsible and insane!

  38. Less lethal tools should be available to everyone.
    If violent offenders wanted stun guns, previous law wouldn’t have stoped them.
    We have seen time and time again that gun/weapon charges are dropped.
    Why make new laws that only law abiding citizens will follow, when they will be responsible anyways?
    If one of the devices owners is irresponsible and a child or someone misuses the device then the adult responsible should be charged.

    Less lethal tools are not a reliable way for self protection. There is a myriad of videos online that show more than enough evidence of less lethal tools failing to perform their intended purpose.

    Than you!

  39. Stun guns should require a license and background check and no history of assault or domestic violence or animal cruelty.

    1. I agree and they should not be meat eaters either. There’s something to say about anyone who can cut open an animal and eat their muscle – absolutely violent people who cannot be trusted.

  40. I agree that taser type guns should
    be regulated like other guns. They
    can maim and kill. Thanks for the
    opportunity to comment on this.

    And congratulations on the passing of
    the new criminal justice law, a big step!

  41. I would like to see the original total ban on stunguns restored. There is no need for any citizen to have a stun gun. Sometimes they are used in kidnappings to disable the victim temporarily.
    Kathy Greenough, Boston

    1. Really? Aside from tv, can you quickly cite an example? Try without using Google.

      People that don’t want to own this defensive tool have an easy choice…people that want a non lethal way of stopping a dangerous person will buy them.

      I don’t need another law from this state telling me what I am “allowed” to do and how to do it.

  42. As technology advances, our rights do too. Free speech covers the internet, freedom of religion covers religions not yet created at the founding. The right to bear arms a thousand years ago would have been swords and bows, 200 years ago, arms of the day, and today the arms that have advanced to electronic devices, so good people are armed equal to their government and to criminals that wish to do us harm.
    Arms should not be licensed, as that would imply a right is a privilege that can be denied, and the most important part of the 2A is to aid the defense of liberty vs tyranny. You certainly don’t ask permission of those who wish to control you, criminals certainly won’t.

    But this is MA and we make everything illegal and difficult for law abiding people. So I am sure they will make it as hard as possible for good people to defend themselves, protecting only criminals, and drop the weapons charges like they do when they arrest a drug dealer to get information.

    1. Edwin – No one likes regulation, even liberals. But do you really think your “law-abiding people” stand a chance of defending themselves against a bad guy with a taser, coming up behind them or even surprising them from the front. Better that the bad guy doesn’t have access to a taser.

      1. Don,

        How do you reconcile what you’re saying here with the Caetano case that led to this?

        1. She certainly had a need to defend herself somehow since the state was not doing so. But you cannot build the law around a small class of examples.

          1. Don, so you’re saying that in the 45 states that don’t regulate stun guns there are waves of crime where people are walking up and tazing each other? Because otherwise you’re building a law around a small class of examples.

          2. “But you cannot build the law around a small class of examples.”

            Certainly you realize there are plenty of instances of that, right?

            If you’re unwilling to have a law that deals with Ms. Caetano’s decision, you are sacrificing her for some, alleged, greater good.

  43. I agree with the general direction of the solution you have outlined. Stun guns and tasers are devices that are specifically designed to harm and/or incapacitate other people. Hence they have a great deal in common with guns, even if they are not specifically designed to be lethal.

  44. Stun guns and tasers need to be regulated. They can be lethal. They can be used very effectively in a street assault or robbery. Imagine also if kids had free access to them. I believe that Mace is regulated. And Mace is much less dangerous than stun guns and tasers.

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