Top Court Hands Gun Advocates Another Win
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Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms, and that may include stun guns, the Supreme Court suggested Monday morning. The case involves a Massachusetts woman who carried one because she was afraid of her abusive boyfriend. The Supreme Court Monday reversed a Massachusetts top court's ruling, which had upheld the state ban on the weapons.
The electroshock weapons, commonly referred to as tasers, after a manufacturer, Taser, are banned in five states: Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. They have restrictions in other areas of the country.
"The justices decided that a March 2015 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling was inconsistent with a 2008 Supreme Court decision declaring an individual right to bear arms. That 5-4 ruling in the case District of Columbia v. Heller left open many questions about the extent of the individual right, the firearms covered and when government regulations would stand," Reuters reports.
Monday's decision did not further clarify the standards of the Heller ruling, yet it signaled that lower courts should not look narrowly at the weapons covered.
The justices objected to the Massachusetts court's approach of considering the dispute through a "contemporary lens" and that it stated that stun guns would not have been the type of weapon Congress envisioned in 1789 when it passed the Constitution's Second Amendment declaring a right to bear arms.
USA Today notes "rather than hear the case itself, the high court sent it back to the state's Supreme Judicial Court."
The majority opinion expanding the rights of gun owners in Heller was written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
"Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way," Scalia's opinion reads. "The Second Amendment extends ... to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding."
Tasers are often falsely believed to be safe, when research shows many deaths from the weapons.