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Supreme Court: 2nd Amendment applies to Stun Guns

Supreme Court: 2nd Amendment applies to Stun Guns

Court deals blow to a Massachusetts law, and to liberal talking points as well.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled today that Second Amendment does include stun guns, in a ruling issued on Monday.

In the short per curiam (“by the Court”) opinion in Caetano v. Massachusetts, the Court set aside a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, rejecting the arguments offered for allowing the state to ban possession or use of stun guns as in conflict with the Second Amendment.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas wrote a separate concurring opinion supporting the self-defense rights of Jamie Caetano, the Boston woman whose conviction was the basis for the case.

The State of Massachusetts now has the choice of dropping the conviction against Caetano, or coming back to try new arguments to support their ban.

Self-defense against an abusive ex-boyfriend

As described in Alito and Thomas’ concurrence, Caetano was hospitalized after a “bad altercation” with an abusive live-in boyfriend, who was also the father of her children. She had obtained multiple restraining orders against him, but they had “proved futile” and she was “in fear for her life.” Caetano was nearly a foot shorter than her ex-boyfriend and he outweighed her by nearly 100 pounds. A friend offered her a stun gun for self-defense and she accepted it.

One night when her ex-boyfriend threatened Caetano after she left work, she was able to scare him off by showing him the stun gun and telling him,  “I’m not gonna take this anymore…I don’t wanna have to [use the stun gun on] you, but if you don’t leave me alone, I’m gonna have to.”

In a later investigation for shoplifting, police questioned Caetano as a suspected accomplice. While searching Caetano’s car with her permission, they discovered the stun gun and arrested her for violation of a Massachusetts law that bans electrical weapons.

Court reasserts Second Amendment rights

In both the main opinion and Alito and Thomas’ concurrence, the Court pushes back on the Massachusetts’ court’s attempt to limit the “individual rights” protected under the Second Amendment.

The arguments that stun guns were not in common use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment, that they were “dangerous and unusual weapons,” and were not “readily adaptable to use in the military,” were completely rejected as in conflict with the decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Heller was the 2008 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment includes protects for individuals to have guns for self-defense, at least in the home. That right was ruled to apply nationwide in McDonald v. Chicago, through application of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Wrote the Court, “This is inconsistent with Heller’s clear statement that the Second Amendment ‘extends…to…arms…that were not in existence at the time of the founding,'” and the mere fact of being “a thoroughly modern invention” does not mean that stun guns are “unusual.” Furthermore, “Heller rejected the proposition ‘that only those weapons useful in warfare are protected.'”

Alito and Thomas’ concurrence praised Caetano for asserting her rights to protect herself.

Caetano’s encounter with her violent ex-boyfriend illustrates the connection between those fundamental rights: By arming herself, Caetano was able to protect against a physical threat that restraining orders had proved useless to prevent. And, commendably, she did so by using a weapon that posed little, if any, danger of permanently harming either herself or the father of her children.

The concurrence was sharp in its criticism of the Massachusetts court, saying that its decision “does a grave disservice to vulnerable individuals like Caetano who must defend themselves because the State will not.”

Strike against liberal anti-gun talking points

Heller was lauded by gun rights advocates for its clear enunciation of how the Second Amendment provides rights to individuals. The Caetano decision further bolsters that case precedent in a critical moment for the Court after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and with a presidential election looming in the fall.

Before Heller, gun control advocates tried — and failed — to hamstring the Second Amendment by arguing that the only gun rights protected were those necessary to maintain a “well regulated militia.” Even now, it’s a favored liberal talking point to claim that the Second Amendment should only apply to those weapons available more than two centuries ago when our Founding Fathers were gathered around a table in Philadelphia.

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill recently posted several tweets using this type of argument:

Fortunately for Americans who value their individual rights, a guy best known for defending himself with a light saber isn’t the final arbiter of how our freedoms are defined.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.


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To Mark Hamill:

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good semi-automatic at your side.

Humphrey's Executor | March 21, 2016 at 7:41 pm

Women who are abused deserve the right to even the odds. Bravo.

Mark Hamill’s 1A rights made the leap from parchment to Twitter, yet he makes that lame-ass musket argument? Progs really are fucking morons, especially the ones that dress up and play pretend for a living.

Self-defense is an unalienable human right.

The Second Amendment recognizes the right of citizens to keep and bear arms suitable for use in a well regulated militia.

That said, the liberals disarmed the babies (e.g. reactive parenthood), and proceeded to cannibalize (e.g. planned parenthood) them under the State-established pro-choice cult that defers to emanations or “gods” from the dark fringes of a penumbra. It would be reckless to submit to their progressive morality and unbounded authority.

As an NRA member, I am in favor of sensible gun laws.

Which means, of course, that 99.99% of the existing gun laws need to be repealed. Because they aren’t sensible, but are just an appeal to some emotional, but unfounded, excuse for rationale.

In other words, 99.99% of gun laws are based on logical fallacies, not on rational deductions from facts.

    jhkrischel in reply to profshadow. | March 21, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    *Exactly this*.

    A 10 day waiting period makes no sense if I’ve already got a gun at home.

    Limits on magazine capacity make no sense since people can swap magazines in less than a second.

    Requiring an exceptional “good cause” for concealed carry makes no sense if you don’t need an exceptional “good cause” to engage in free speech.

    Limits on suppressors make no sense if we have OSHA regulations to reduce machine noise to protect hearing.

    Limits on “short barrel rifles” make no sense when the difference between a pistol and an SBR is literally the attachment of a stick.

    Limits on cosmetic parts of a firearm (pistol grip, forward grip, muzzle brake, etc, etc), make no sense because it regulates things based on how “scary” they look.

    The bottom line is this – good guys should be allowed to have guns, and bad guys shouldn’t. Any law that doesn’t address that directly makes no sense.

    TX-rifraph in reply to profshadow. | March 22, 2016 at 4:50 am

    Gun laws are about control not safety. Thus, they make no sense except to the useful idiots who believe the safety assertions (they do not rise to a level of an argument)made by the liberal “superiors” like Hamill.

    Besides, laws only impact criminals if they are caught violating the laws. Otherwise, the laws have no effect on them by definition – a criminal does not voluntarily submit to a law.

Love it when the goofy laws of my home state get pummeled by the Supremes. Can’t be bothered reading the related articles and whiny reader comments in what remains of The Boston Globe.

The final paragraph of the opinion says it all.

amatuerwrangler | March 21, 2016 at 9:46 pm

I’ll bet that Mr. Pretend Space Cadet doesn’t have a problem with the Fourth Amendment’s mandate of persons to be “… secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” to include digital media, cell phones and automobiles, all things not in existence at the time it was written.

The hypocrisy of the gun-grabbers knows no bounds.

And it was nice of the Court to mention the uselessness of restraining orders as a form of physical protection.

    TX-rifraph in reply to amatuerwrangler. | March 22, 2016 at 8:19 am

    “…uselessness of restraining orders as a form of physical protection.”

    Absolutely! As a former LEO, I saw many times how many women found out that piece of paper was useless. It was an after-the-fact tool that did not even do much then. Women need real weapons against these bullies to PREVENT harm to themselves.

Alito seemed a little pissed off…

Of course it applies to stun guns. It just doesn’t apply to real guns.

A stunning victory for freedom and justice!

Keep Hillary’s hands off the SCOTUS. “Why we MUST fight”

Liberals only focus on their stated intentions. Every action has an intention but also has four possible outcomes:
a) Intended results achieved (Is there any evidence?)
b) Intended results not achieved (Is Chicago safer now?)
c) Unintended consequences that are good (gun sales are up)
d) Unintended consequences that cause harm (like the case here)

Thank you SCOTUS for slapping down the State that wants to tolerate harm to women by disarming them. Liberals!

Anyone else suspect the liberals on the court as trying to portray themselves (falsely) as gun friendly in order to provide ‘proof’ that the GOP is fearmongering on gun rights with their stance against Garland?

The play is to give a nothing burger on “stun guns” and get Garland seated to get the majority.

    No. They can afford to give up a “nothing burger” on stun guns.

    They CANNOT, however, afford to rule against battered women and/or victims of domestic violence. Not if they want to maintain any shred of credibility. (Leave that to Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and Dianne Feinstein.)

    It’s not so much that they’re portraying themselves as “not-anti-gun” as they are “not-War-on-Women”.

    Rick the Curmudgeon in reply to gwsjr425. | March 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    But along with SCOTUS’ other actions today, this means we can’t have a stun gun in the Hallowed Grounds of the Post Office yeah even in the parking lot.

Is anyone else sick and tired of the disingenuous claim that “even the vast majority of the NRA support strict gun laws”?

Does that mean stun devices must be kept at home according to blue states interpretation of Heller?

    As she was arrested for possession of the stun gun while out in her car, I’d assume the answer is, “No”.

    Then again, I’d assume, based on the very first sentence in the opinion…

    The Court has held that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,” and that this “Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States.” [citations omitted]

    … that bans on “assault weapons”, standard-capacity magazines, “machine guns”, and suppressors (“all instruments that constitute bearable arms”) are also struck down. The clear language would indicate that.

    But it’s not legally safe to act based on assumptions.

Stun gun, schmun gun. HERE’S the unanimous Supreme Court headline *I* want to see: