Caetano v. Massachusetts

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: March 21, 2016
  • Case #: No. 14–10078
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam; ALITO, J. filed an opinion concurring in which THOMAS, J. joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

Blanket prohibitions on the possession of stun guns and other arms not in existences at the time of the founding violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.

Petitioner owned a stun gun for self-defense purposes because she was afraid of her abusive ex-boyfriend. Petitioner was subsequently arrested for violating Mass. Gen. Laws, Ch. 140 §131J, which prohibited possession of an electrical weapon. Petitioner moved to dismiss the charge on Second Amendment grounds. The trial court denied her motion, and Petitioner was convicted. She appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Relying in part on United State v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174 (1939), the court rejected her Second Amendment defense and held that the Second Amendment does not protect possession of a stun gun because: (1) stun guns were not available when the Second Amendment was adopted; (2) stun guns are dangerous and unusual; and (3) stun guns are not readily adaptable for military use. Emphasizing the reasoning of District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 582 (2008) the Supreme Court rejected this view and reiterated 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.” The Court held that Heller rejected all three reasons relied upon by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Vacated and Remanded.

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