Sunday, October 29, 2017

Philadelphia Reforms Unconstitutional Stun Gun Ban

Philadelphia has joined the growing numbers of cities and states that have removed unconstitutional restrictions on stun guns and Tasers, collectively known as electric weapons. The reforms are happening because of two related things. First the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in the Caetano Second Amendment case from Massachusetts. In the Caetano PER CURIAM decision (pdf), the Court held that:

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).
Second, civil rights groups such as the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and others have sued the jurisdictions that have illegally banned stun guns for decades.

In the face of a clear, obvious, and unanimous Supreme Court decision, those jurisdictions are changing their laws.  Below is the new law in Philadelphia. The change is in italics. The law passed 16-0 on the 26th of October.  From
§ 10-825. Stun Guns.

Stun Gun. Any device which expels or projects a projectile which, upon coming in contact with a person, is capable of inflicting injury or an electric shock to such [person.] person; also known as an electric or electronic incapacitation device.


Prohibited Conduct.

No person under eighteen (18) years of age shall own, use, possess, sell or otherwise transfer any "stun gun".


The parent, legal guardian or other legally responsible adult of any child under the age of eighteen (18) years who violates subsection 10-825(2)(a) shall be in violation of this Section and shall be responsible for payment of any fines assessed against the adult’s minor child.
 Similar bans on stun guns and Tasers have been repealed or reformed in Annapolis, MD; New Orleans, LA; the State of New Jersey; Tacoma, WA; and Westminster, WA.  Lawsuits are ongoing in several other places around the United States.

From the Firearms Policy Coalition:
Later that month, a representative of the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department contacted Mr. Stamboulieh and said that the City was considering its response. Then, in June, the City’s Law Department sent a copy of bill no. 170674 that was filed in response to the demand, which would effectively repeal the ban for adults and narrow the reach of the law to persons under 18 years of age.

“We thank Councilmember Jones for his leadership on this important issue,” said Brandon Combs, president of the Coalition and chairman of the Foundation. “City of Philadelphia residents and visitors can now exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear these important arms for self-defense.”
Caetano is an important decision.  In the recent case Kolbe v Hogan, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that semi-automatic rifles are not protected by the Second Amendment because they are "like" military arms. This is directly in opposition to Caetano. The Kolbe v. Hogan case is being appealed to the Supreme Court, but the Court does not have to hear it. The Supreme Court has been reluctant to take Second Amendment cases lately.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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