Saturday, March 26, 2016

SCOTUS Trashes Massachusetts Court Ruling On Stun Guns

by Matt Vespa 
Well, here’s an interesting angle in the Second Amendment rights fight this week; the Supreme Court reversed a decision (Jaime Caetano v. Massachusetts) made by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that related to the state’s ban on stun guns. The Bay State prohibits civilian ownership of such self-defense items, except for those who are in law enforcement. The case was brought before the Court after Jaime Caetano was arrested and convicted for possessing the stun gun after police found it in her purse, while looking into a local shoplifting incident outside a supermarket. For now, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which upheld Caetano’s conviction. It’s now relegated back to the local courts to be litigated again (via NBC News):
The U.S Supreme Court Monday wiped out a Massachusetts court ruling that had upheld the conviction of a Massachusetts woman who carried a stun gun for protection from an abusive former boyfriend. […]
Jaime Caetano argued that the state's ban on allowing individuals to possess stun guns violated her Second Amendment right to carry a weapon for self defense.
She was arrested in Ashland, Massachusetts in 2011 after police officers, investigating a supermarket's complaint about possible shoplifting, found the weapon in her purse. She told them she needed it to fend off a former boyfriend who was abusive.
But in an unsigned opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court Monday vacated that ruling. It said the Massachusetts court improperly found that Second Amendment protection applies only to weapons that were in common use at the time of the nation's founding.
Referring to its landmark 2008 ruling on handguns in the home, the justices said the Second Amendment applies "to all instruments that constitute bearable arms," even those not in existence at the time of the founding.
Caetano had argued that the Massachusetts Supreme Court's conception of the amendment, "as a sort of fossilized relic trapped in amber," was wrong. A stun gun, she said, is an instrument designed for self-defense, so that the state's ban on possession violated the U.S. Supreme Court's 2008 ruling that said the Second Amendment protects the right to keep a handgun at home for self-defense.
Over at The Washington Post, Eugene Volokh, who also filed an amicus brief in this case, noted a few things about the case, one of which was that the decision was unanimous– and that it was handed down without hearing oral arguments, pointing to the notion that the justices saw this as “a very easy case.”

No comments: