THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS INCLUDES STUN GUNS
March 23, 2016
The US Supreme Court issued a decision in Caetano v. Massachusetts vacating a Boston woman’s conviction for possessing a stun gun, after the highest Court in Massachusetts held that the Second Amendment did not extend that far. SCOTUS held that, consistent with its decisions in D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, the Second Amendment includes arms that did not exist at the time of founding, and is not limited to weapons useful in warfare. The concise two-page opinion is available here.
Wisconsin also has a law prohibiting the possession of any electric weapon without a concealed carry license, which is a felony offense carrying up to 6 years in prison. Wis. Stat. § 941.295(1m) and (2g). The statute defines an electric weapon as “any device which is designed, redesigned, used or intended to be used, offensively or defensively, to immobilize or incapacitate persons by the use of electric current.”
It is worth noting that carrying a concealed handgun generally without a license is a misdemeanor offense, carrying up to 9 months in jail. Wis. Stat. § 941.23. The disparity in penalties is significant – a difference of 63 months or more than 5 years. In our experience at Mastantuono & Coffee, district attorney’s offices in Wisconsin are filing felony charges for possession an electric weapon, but have been persuaded off of it in negotiations. With the SCOTUS decision in Caetano, we anticipate that there will be additional challenges to this statute in Wisconsin. We will continue to litigate and follow this issue, and post updates.