U.S. Supreme Court Tosses Verdict, Says Stun Guns Protected by Second Amendment

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The Supreme Court tossed a verdict ruling that electronic weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment. (Photo: AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

The U.S. Supreme Court is vacating a lower court’s finding that stun guns are not protected by the Second Amendment as valid weapons for self-defense. Late last year the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the state’s high court, upheld charges against Jaime Caetano for owning an illegal stun gun.

The Massachusetts court ruled that because stun guns were modern weapons they could be held to the “dangerous and unusual” standard as they were not in existence when the Second Amendment was drafted. The Supreme court specifically rejected the lower court’s finding, saying “Second Amendment extends…to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.” The lower court will have to rehear the case.

This is in-line with other rulings that have shielded rights even as technology changes and at the same time it affirms the Heller Decision, which states that the Second Amendment applies to all weapons in common use for lawful purposes. The Supreme Court threw out the lower court’s findings on all three counts, saying that they were directly in opposition to existing Supreme Court precedent.

The court compared stun guns to other electronic technology including digital cameras, cell phones and the Internet, pointing out that people maintain freedom of speech and are not subject to warrantless searches because times have changed.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a detailed and damning order (.pdf), pointing out that the lower court’s decision “that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are pro­tected by the Second Amendment…[was] bordering on the frivolous.”

See Also: Massachusetts Courts Decide Stun Guns Aren’t Protected by Second Amendment

“Electronic stun guns are no more exempt from the Second Amend­ment’s protections, simply because they were unknown to the First Congress, than electronic communications are exempt from the First Amendment or electronic imaging devices are exempt from the Fourth Amendment.”

In the original case, a judge ruled that the defendant, Caetano, broke the law keeping a stun gun in her purse. Caetano acquired the stun gun from a friend to protect herself from her ex-boyfriend who had been harassing her. Although Caetano had multiple restraining orders against the man he continued to harass her in person at her workplace.

After she obtained the stun gun from a friend she showed it to her ex-boyfriend, who “towered over her by nearly a foot and outweighed her by close to 100 pounds.” He immediately stopped harassing her.

The Supreme Court also found that stun guns, designed not to kill but only incapacitate, could not possibly be considered “dangerous” as the stun gun posed less risk to her or boyfriend if she had been forced to use it.

“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was either unable or unwilling to do what was necessary to protect Jaime Caetano, so she was forced to protect herself,” wrote Alito. “To make matters worse, the Commonwealth chose to deploy its prosecutorial resources to prosecute and convict her of a criminal offense for arming herself with a nonlethal weapon that may well have saved her life…if the fundamental right of self-defense does not protect Caetano, then the safety of all Americans is left to the mercy of state authorities who may be more concerned about disarming people than about keeping them safe.”

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Mark From Bristol March 25, 2016, 12:50 pm

    Hold onto your hats. If Barrack Hussein Muslim Terrorist gets his nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia, or if Hillary Benghazi gets elected and gets to nominate the replacement for Scalia, or the majority Republicans do what they usually do, get on their knees and beg for mercy at the feet of the minority liberal Democrats just before they surrender again, OUR Constitution is officially over. I’m curious as to how the justices voted, specifically Ginburg, Sotomeyer, and Kagan. All of the justices, but I’d bet that those three were in the minority against OUR Constitution as they usually are.

    • mtman2 March 26, 2016, 4:38 am

      The 3 women justices should be thrown off the court as they’ve violated there duties several times as well as that turncoat Roberts ~!

  • Robert Smith March 25, 2016, 12:07 pm

    What strikes me most is that it was a unanimous decision. Heller and McDonald were both 5/4, giving rise to concern that the liberal Justices would not follow stare decisis on future gun rights cases. Optimistically, it could be an indication the court will not over-turn Heller, even if a liberal replaces Justice Scalia.

  • J.R. March 25, 2016, 9:07 am

    I agree with everything you say Tweedmus, except the on the failure to at least give the SCOTUS nominee a hearing (I know. You said confirm.) The decision to confirm or not should be made AFTER a hearing. That is the constitutional way of doing things and it has always been done in the past cf Justice Kennedy who was confirmed, not just considered, by a Democratic-majority Senate after nomination by President Reagan. True, it was not the last year in office. What are they afraid of? The Senate has a significant Republican majority. Are they THAT confidant a Republican will be in the white house in a year? I am not sure why you are concerned with replacing J. Alito. Back on topic – When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. And it is not their fault.

    • Joe McHugh March 25, 2016, 5:17 pm

      J.R. Au contraire, mon ami. Try as I might, I could not lay my finger on that clause or amendment of the Constitution that requires what you say. The Senate doesn’t even have to consider a nomination by a President, much less vote on it.

      We should consider why the Republican dominated Senate would show such disrespect for obama. It really doesn’t matter if a president only has a year or less to serve, and we all know that this is a sophistic artifice put forth by the Republicans. The real reason that the republicans are disrespecting obama is that he deserves it. obama’s choice of Merrick Garland is telling. One could not find another judge who is so committed to making the Second Amendment a quaint artifact of the Constitution.

      I challenge anyone to name a past President who has scorned the Constitution as thoroughly as obama has. And now he dares to lecture the Senate on its constitutional responsibilities. What a laugh! obama either doesn’t know what the Constitution requires or he is deliberately lying as he usually does, to deceive the people.

      The liberals are fond of saying that obama was a constitutional professor while he was in college. If that were true, we should pity any undergraduates that attended his classes.

      • Steve September 2, 2016, 6:15 am

        Fk Massachusetts and FK Barry Hussain. I don’t need permission to defend my family or myself, with anything I choose that day. I don’t care if they change the constitution either or what next ass wipe is nominated to the S.C.

  • Larry C March 25, 2016, 8:46 am

    Massachusetts east coast and Obama ass licking idiots have been stopped. According to them it is more morally acceptable to have her beaten to death than be able to defend herself with non-lethal means. Here in fly-over country she would be criticized for not adequately protecting herself. A good handgun would be more appropriate.

    • Steve September 2, 2016, 6:16 am

      MASSACHUSETS IS FULL OF LIBERAL ASS WIPES.

  • tweedmus March 25, 2016, 7:52 am

    A great and logical decision which speaks well for the court and reinforces the Second Amendment, which has been under attack for the last 78 years, particularly the last 48.
    The lack of the ability to defend oneself is something everyone who can think should oppose, wherever they fit on the political spectrum; to do otherwise is the height of foolishness. Politicians have used the people’s ignorance and squeamishness to disarm the American public to further their own ends, they shout “Don’t worry, government will do it for you!” while making it impossible to control our own lives.
    No wonder Trump has had so much success; we are sick and tired of having it done for us, because without the control of our own destinies we have sold our birthright for a load of crap.
    I commend the Senate for refusing to confirm a new SCOTUS justice until after the election; the people need to have their voices heard. Alito will be very difficult to replace, but I liked the court’s makeup and hope someone who strongly supports the 2nd amendment is confirmed

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