Derek Fink of the Anne Arundel County Council (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun / January 25, 2012)

It will soon be legal to own a Taser or stun gun in Anne Arundel County, following a vote by the County Council on Monday.

Council members voted 4-3 to legalize the devices, which use an electric shock to disable another person. The bill was sponsored by Councilman Derek Fink, a Pasadena Republican who had argued that Tasers are a good way for people to protect themselves, especially if they don't want to own a gun.

"It's going to give them another viable option to protect themselves, their families and their property," Fink said.

A state law passed in 2009 allows Marylanders to carry Tasers and stun guns if they are 18 years old, pass a background check and meet other requirements. Counties, however, can override state law. Previously, only police officers in Anne Arundel could carry and use Tasers.

During a brief public hearing on the bill, supporters invoked both the Constitution and the Bible.

Deborah Miller of Crownsville said the right to self-defense is a civil right, while Joseph Delimater of Glen Burnie said anyone using a Taser to prevent murder would be following God's law according to the book of Exodus.

Speakers debated whether Tasers could be lethal or not.

Glen Burnie resident Millard Snowden elicited chuckles when he said he's an electrician and has shocked himself plenty of times over the years, with no ill effects.

"I'd much rather be electrocuted than be shot by a rifle or a pistol," he said.

But others weren't sold on the idea of Tasers as a safe means of self-defense.

Legalizing Tasers would be "simply a legal proliferation of more weapons," said Patric Enright of Gambrills.

Some council members expressed frustration that no one from the police department, police unions or the county executive's office testified on the bill or appeared to answer technical questions about Tasers.

Councilman Jamie Benoit, D-Crownsville, criticized the police and County Executive Laura Neuman for "taking a knee" on the bill.

If Neuman signs the measure, it will become law in 45 days.

pwood@baltsun.com