Middleburgh mayor sues for taser-carry rights


By Patsy Nicosia

Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile has filed a lawsuit in United states District Court arguing that he has the right to carry a taser.
If he wins-and Schoharie County Attorney Mike West is doubtful he will-Mr. Avitabile said it doesn't mean he'll start carrying a taser on the streets of Middleburgh.
But it doesn't mean he won't be carrying one either.
"It's like someone with pistol," Mr. Avitable said. "You don't advertise when you're doing it. I haven't decided."
Mr. Avitabile, together with a the Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation, filed the lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo in a December 22, 2016 civil action.
Mr. West said he became aware of the suit after District Attorney Jim Sacket received a summons as part of the suit.
"It's just silly," Mr. West said. "Schoharie County doesn't make these laws. The DA just enforces them. It looks like Mr. Avitabile considers a taser a gun and so he's protected by the Second Amendment. But a taser is not a gun."
Mr. West said the county's response to the lawsuit will either be handled by an attorney assigned by its insurance company or himself.
Should Mr. Avitabile win his case, the county's role will be small.
"It just means Jim Sacket can't arrest him if he's caught carrying a taser," Mr. West said.
For Mr. Avitabile, the lawsuit is about fundamental rights, not just for him, but for everyone, he said.
"A right is a right," he said. "They don't have to be exercised to be rights.
"Forty six out of 50 states allow people to carry a taser for self-defense. It's not just the Second Amendment, but a bunch of related issues...fundamental rights."
Mr. Avitabile said he's long been interested in civil rights issues; that's what lead him to partner with the FPC and the FPF in the lawsuit.
"It's not a gun or an anti-gun issue," he said. "It bridges them both. It's not about me, but about the right of every citizen in the state of New York, It's a civil right."
According to the lawsuit, FPC and FPF, both of which advocate for fundamental rights, but especially for Second Amendment rights, have members "but for New York's ban on tasers and other electronic arms, would keep, carry, and in the appropriate circumstances utilize tasers and other bearable electronic firearms for self-defense."
The lawsuit also maintains that Mr. Avitabile "desires to purchase a stun gun or taser for self-defense and other lawful purposes in his home" but has "refrained from purchasing, owning, carrying or otherwise violating New York's ban on stun guns and tasers" because he fears prosecution under existing laws.
Tasers work by delivering a high-voltage electrical charge intended to incapacitate someone and were initially introduced as non-lethal weapons for police.