FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

Does the Right to Bear Arms Apply to Stun Guns and Tasers?

Just as the Second Amendment doesn't guarantee you the right to have arms made out of actual, live bears (thanks, framers of the Constitution), it also doesn't guarantee you the right to any type of weaponry. Generally speaking, state gun control laws can restrict the types of firearms citizens may own.

A recent case in Massachusetts may stretch the limits of state gun restrictions, specifically whether the right to bear arms extends to Tasers and stun guns.

State of Conflict

State gun laws, especially those applying to stun guns, Tasers, and "electrical weapons," can vary. For example, Florida and Minnesota allow electronic weapons while Wisconsin and Massachusetts do not. In fact, in 2012 the Michigan Court of Appeals struck down the state's stun gun ban, while Massachusetts's Supreme Judicial Court just did the opposite.

Seven states, including Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island currently ban private citizens from carrying stun guns, although electrical weapons are ubiquitous on police officer utility belts. Others may require a specific permit to carry a stun gun.

Right to Bear (Electric) Arms

Jaime Caetano was convicted of violating a prohibition in Massachusetts on electrical weapons after police found a stun gun in her purse during a shoplifting investigation in 2011. She claims a friend gave her the weapon to protect her against a violent ex-boyfriend. She appealed her conviction to the state's Supreme Judicial Court. Earlier this month the court upheld the ban, and now Caetano is taking her case to the United State Supreme Court.

While the Court has upheld some state restrictions on dangerous weaponry and ammunition, most people think the ban will be unconstitutional. Most important in this line of thinking is the Court's decision to overturn Washington D.C.'s ban on handguns. After all, if a state can't ban lethal weapons for personal protection, it likely can't ban non-lethal electrical weapons like Tasers and stun guns.

Related Resources: