- The Washington Times - Monday, March 21, 2016

The Supreme Court on Monday reversed the conviction of a Massachusetts woman who was found guilty in 2013 of violating a state law banning private citizens from owning less-than-lethal stun guns.

In an unanimous 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court said that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court must rehear the case against Jaime Caetano, a homeless woman who was sentenced to probation after she was caught with a stun gun she said was for protection from an abusive ex-boyfriend.

Massachusetts’ highest court ruled previously that a state law prohibiting the private ownership of stun guns doesn’t run afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s right to bear arms. In Monday’s two-page opinion, however, the Supreme Court said the state justices must reconsider whether Second Amendment protections extend to modern weapons that weren’t around when the Bill of Rights was authored.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had used a three-pronged approach when it agreed in 2013 to uphold the conviction against Miss Caetano, saying then that it could ban residents from owning stun guns since they were not in use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment, and that the weapons are “unusual” and not “readily adaptable to use in the military.”

Those three reasons contradict the high’s courts already-established precedents, the Supreme Court wrote Monday.

“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’ … and that this ‘Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States,” the court wrote, citing previous rulings from 2008 and 2010, respectively.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas took particular aim at Massachusetts’ attempt to ban stun guns in a blistering 10-page concurring opinion.

“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was either unable or unwilling to do what was necessary to protect Jaime Caetano, so she was forced to protect herself,” Justice Alito wrote. “To make matters worse, the Commonwealth chose to deploy its prosecutorial resources to prosecute and convict her of a criminal offense for arming herself with a nonlethal weapon that may well have saved her life. The Supreme Judicial Court then affirmed her conviction on the flimsiest of grounds.”

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