Does the “right to bear arms” dissolve when the arms in question are “a modern invention”? A Massachusetts court thinks so.
Last week, the state’s highest court upheld a ban on private ownership of stun guns on the basis that these are “electrical weapons” and a “modern invention,” and therefore not privy to Second Amendment protection.
“[A]lthough modern handguns were not in common use at the time of enactment of the Second Amendment, their basic function has not changed,” the court argued. “A stun gun, by contrast, is a thoroughly modern invention.”
“Because the stun gun that the defendant possessed is both dangerous per se at common law and unusual, but was not in common use at the time of the enactment of the Second Amendment, we conclude that stun guns fall outside the protection of the Second Amendment,” the decision continued.
The court founded its ban in “the interest of public health, safety, or welfare,” but dismissed as “immaterial” the fact that weapons even more lethal than stun guns remain legal, writing, “Mathematical precision by the Legislature is not constitutionally required.”
The woman at the center of the case, Jaime Caetano, had been arrested for possessing a stun gun, but argued she needed it for self-defense against the abusive father of her children. She had used the stun gun to frighten him away from her workplace in the past.