SCOTUS Brings Stun Guns Under Second Amendment

March 23, 2016



On Monday, in Caetano v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court concluded that stun guns are protected by the Second Amendment.  In its brief per curiam decision, the Court recognized its prior decisions finding that the Second Amendment extends to “all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.”

In reversing the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the Supreme Court found that the explanations of the Massachusetts Court were inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent.  Specifically, the Court noted that the lower court’s conclusion that stun guns were not in use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment, and thus unprotected,  that they were “dangerous per se and unusual”, and that they were not used by the military (and thus unprotected by the Second Amendment) were in conflict with the Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 582 (2008).

In litigating cases involving stun guns and other cases involving weapons that do not constitute traditional firearms, it is important to consider constitutional challenges to the criminal charge.  In some states, constitutional challenges to a statute may require additional notice and litigation procedures.