Stun gun legislation hits a snag


Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 11:37 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE - A pair of bills that would prohibit police and others from using stun guns on children 16 or younger are in trouble after their sponsor failed to appear before a legislative committee Tuesday.
The Senate Education Committee postponed the bills and chairwoman Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said she was unsure whether they would be brought up again. The bills were filed after police officers drew criticism for using stun guns against children, including an elementary school pupil.
The committee had earlier delayed action on one of the bills by Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, rather than vote it down to give him a chance to offer changes in response to criticism from law enforcement officials. Siplin was not in Tallahassee due to an emergency and misunderstanding, a woman in his Orlando office said. He did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
"The problem with the bill when we discussed it previously - and sheriffs will tell you - is that you do not know what age a child is," Lynn said.
Lynn said lawmakers are also worried that police would shoot children if barred from using stun guns. A Senate staff report also notes it would be difficult for any citizen using a stun gun for self-defense to know if a youthful attacker is 16 or under.
The bills were introduced after Miami-Dade County officers used a stun gun on a 6-year-old boy who was wielding a piece of glass in a principal's office and on a 12-year-old girl who was playing hooky. The girl was drunk and, while trying to escape the officer, was about to run into traffic when she was stunned, police said.
A Jacksonville officer received a three-day suspension last year for zapping a 13-year-old girl at least twice with a stun gun while she was handcuffed in the back seat of his caged patrol car.
Siplin's first bill (SB 318) would prohibit anyone, including police, from using a Taser or similar weapon that can stun a person with a high-voltage jolt of electricity on a child 16 or younger on school grounds.
His second bill (SB 554) would extend the same prohibition to any place if the stun gun user knew or should have known the child was 16 or younger. A violation could be punished by up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top