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Caetano v. Massachusetts
United States Supreme Court
136 S. Ct. 1027 (2016)
Jaime Caetano (defendant) obtained a stun gun, a weapon that is not designed to seriously harm or kill, after her abusive ex-boyfriend violated multiple restraining orders. Later, police were investigating a shoplifting at a Massachusetts supermarket and believed Caetano, who was in the store parking lot, might have been involved. Caetano consented to a search of her bag, which contained her stun gun. Caetano told the officers that she had obtained the stun gun for personal protection, but she was arrested because Massachusetts law included a blanket prohibition on the possession of electrical weapons. During a bench trial, Caetano and the government (plaintiff) agreed that Caetano had possessed the stun gun, that the stun gun fell within the Massachusetts statutory prohibition against the possession of electrical weapons, and that Caetano possessed the stun gun to protect herself against her ex-boyfriend. Caetano argued that the electrical-weapons statute and possession charges interfered with her Second Amendment rights. Evidence was presented that, although traditional handguns were far more common, hundreds of thousands of stun guns were purchased and possessed for self-defense purposes and they were legal in 45 states. The trial court convicted Caetano for possession of the stun gun, and Caetano appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The conviction was upheld because the court found that the Second Amendment did not extend to possession of stun guns for three reasons: first, stun guns were not commonly used at the time Congress passed the Second Amendment; second, stun guns fell under the general prohibition against possessing dangerous and unusual weapons; and third, stun guns were not useful in a military context. Caetano appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
Concurrence (Alito, J.)
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