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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Bear Arms, not Stun Guns, MA Court Says

(CN) - The Second Amendment does not protect the right to carry a stun gun, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled.

Jaime Caetano brought the issue to the attention of the court in challenging his 2011 arrest in a supermarket parking lot for possession of a stun gun.

Police responding to a report of a possible shoplifting incident had discovered the woman sitting in a car, and she consented to a search of her purse. Though Caetano said she needed the stun gun to protect herself from an abusive ex-boyfriend, she was arrested.

After Caetano failed to have the charge against her dismissed under the Second Amendment, claiming a ban on electrical weapons in unconstitutional, a judge found her guilty.

Affirming on direct appellate review, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said Caetano failed to show that "a stun gun is the type of weapon contemplated in 1789 as being protected by the Second Amendment."

The decision focuses on whether a stun gun is designed as a weapon, like "firearms, daggers, stilettos and brass knuckles," or designed as a tool but used as a weapon like "pocket knives, razors, hammers, wrenches and cutting tools."

Citing the statutory definition, the court said it is clear that a stun gun belongs to the first category.

"The record demonstrates no evidence or argument that its purpose is for anything other than bodily assault and defense," Justice Francis Spina wrote for the court.

While mmodern handguns are protected under the Second Amendment because "their basic function has not changed" since 1789, Spina said stun guns fall outside the protection of the Second Amendment because they were not in common use at the time of the enactment of the Second Amendment, and are "both dangerous per se at common law and unusual."

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