Taser-Ownership Bans Spur Constitutional Challenge

BALTIMORE (CN) — A Maryland woman who had to learn how to walk again after a brutal attack by her ex left her brain damaged is leading the charge against county and city laws that restrict Taser possession.

Leah Baran says she tried to buy a stun gun last month, but that Taser International declined the purchase because she lives in Howard County, Maryland, where she says a Taser “is plainly defined as a prohibited electronic weapon.”

The complaint, filed on Jan. 27 with a federal judge in Baltimore, gives a heartbreaking and understandable explanation for why Baran wants a Taser.

Four and a half years ago, Baran was home at her apartment when an ex-boyfriend,

Joseph Dwayne Caudill, broke in, raped her and tried to kill her.

“His last words to her were,” according to the complaint, “ ‘If I go to prison, as soon as I get out, I am coming for you and I am going to kill you.’”

Baran says Caudill is indeed serving a prison sentence for attacking her and that she fears for her life.

“When he is released from prison, she is convinced he will try to make good on his threat to kill her,” the complaint says.

Baran notes that someone killed her cat during Caudill’s trial and left its corpse in her driveway.

Since Caudill’s conviction, according to the complaint, “her other cat was shot; her horse died from unknown causes; her tires were slashed; dead headless animals have been left at her doorsteps, and her house has been broken into in the same way her attacker broke in

Baran used to work as an emergency-room nurse, but she is still recovering from blows to the head Caudill inflicted upon her when he nearly strangled her in 2012.

She had to relearn how to walk and is still waiting to hear whether Maryland will grant her a permit to wear and carry a handgun.

Though “ready, willing and able to use deadly force to defend” herself, Baran says she’d prefer not to.

“In appropriate circumstances, Ms. Baran would prefer to utilize a Taser for defense of herself and her home due to its proven effectiveness and its proven record of minimizing injury to suspects and/or assailants,” the complaint states.

Baran filed her complaint with five other residents of Baltimore and Howard County who feel the same – all men who are trained in firearms but would prefer to minimize the likelihood that they would have to use deadly force one day.

Like Howard County, Baltimore County and Baltimore City both carry stiff penalties for violating the prohibitions on Taser possession or use.

Baran and the other plaintiffs want a federal judge to enjoin the laws as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. They are represented by E. Nichole Patterson with Arsenal Attorneys in Arlington, Va.

“Baltimore County, Howard County and Baltimore City may not completely ban the keeping and bearing of arms for self-defense that are not unusually dangerous, deny individuals the right to carry arms in non-sensitive places, deprive individuals of the right to keep or carry arms in an arbitrary and capricious manner, nor impose regulations on the right to keep and carry arms that are otherwise inconsistent with the Second Amendment,” the suit says.

County executives and the mayor of Baltimore City have not returned emails seeking comment.