On 21 March of 2016, the Supreme Court issued a remarkable and, apparently to the Supreme Court, non-controversial decision. In the Caetano per curiam decision (pdf):
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,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 582 (2008), and that this “Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States,” McDonald v.Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 750 (2010).
While the decision, which was unanimous, it has far reaching implications beyond mere stun guns. And stun gun bans have started falling like dominoes.
Massachusetts, perhaps surprisingly, has done nothing about their law, leaving it in limbo. Prosecutions remain unlikely. New Jersey is now in the process of reforming its ban on stun guns. And the city of New Orleans is facing a lawsuit aimed at its ban on stun guns.
A New Orleans man has taken aim at a city ordinance that forbids the possession and sale of stun guns, claiming the little-known ban violates his Second Amendment right to self-defense.
The legal challenge comes amid a mounting push to lift similar restrictions in the handful of jurisdictions around the country that outlaw Tasers and other electroshock weapons, including a case in New Jersey in which authorities recently acknowledged that state’s ban “would likely not pass constitutional muster.”
A lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in New Orleans asks a judge to declare the city ordinance unconstitutional, calling the law “arbitrary and irrational.”
The New Orleans ban ordinance includes a number of other banned weapons as well. From municode.com:
It shall be unlawful for anyone knowingly to:(1)Sell, manufacture, purchase, possess or carry any blackjack, sandclub, metal knuckles, switchblade knife or spring knife, iron buckle, zip gun or stungun;
All of these instruments appear to be “bearable arms.” as covered by the Caetano decision. Some, such as “sand clubs” might be viewed as “unusual”, though it’s hard to see how they are more dangerous than the common blackjacks or saps sold to law enforcement. It’s no different than a foot-long lenth of 3/4-inch galvanized pipe that’s sold in every hardware stores for less than three dollars.
I expect to see more bans on stun guns and other common bearable arms to fall. Currently, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island have such bans in place. It’s likely there are a number of local bans on various weapons, such as the one in New Orleans. All are now ripe for challenge in the courts.
The Caetano ruling is sure to be cited far into the future.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.