Women have the right to carry a stun gun in public to protect themselves, granted to them by the Second Amendment, according to the Supreme Court.
The Justices set aside a ruling on Monday by a lower court in Massachusetts that upheld the criminal conviction of Jaime Caetano, a woman who kept a stun gun to defend herself against her ex-boyfriend, according to this story from the LA Times.
From the story: “The justices repeated their view that the self-defense weapons protected by the 2nd Amendment are not limited to weapons ‘useful in warfare.'”
“Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and several cities have laws or ordinances that generally forbid the carrying of tasers or other electronic devices that can shock and injure people”
Caetano’s conviction was appealed on the grounds that she has a constitutional right to defend herself, especially when using a nonlethal weapon.
“The ability to possess non-lethal weapons is an important aspect of the right to keep and bear arms,” argued UCLA Law professor Eugene Volokh, one of Caetano’s lawyers.
Rather than hearing the case themselves and potentially striking down the ban on stun guns, the justices sent it back to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, reasoning that the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago were meant to protect even firearms “that were not in existence at the time of the founding,” according to this story from USA Today.
Both Justice Samuel A Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas weren’t pleased with the decision to not hear the case.
“If the fundamental right to 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 the people rather than keeping them safe,” wrote Thomas, who complained in a 10-page concurrence that the court’s “grudging” decision to send the case back may not be enough to save Jaime Caetano and citizens like her “who must defend themselves because the state will not,” the story says.
“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 the people than about keeping them safe,” Alito wrote.
The problem lies in the fact that, in Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that Americans can keep handguns in their homes for self-defense, and it made clear in McDonald that state and local governments can’t stop them. However, the ruling was limited to weapons that were commonly used at the time the Constitution was written, namely firearms and blades.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously in March that stun guns didn’t fit that definition, as they were invented in 1972 and were first sold commercially in the 1990s, the story says.
Caetano was arrested in 2011 in a supermarket parking lot. She said she carried the stun gun for protection against an abusive former boyfriend who she previously had sought to avoid via restraining orders, the story says.
Her petition notes that only seven states ban stun guns, while hundreds of thousands have been sold across the country.