New Yorkers may soon have new options for self-defense.
On Tuesday a new lawsuit was filed against New York City and its police commissioner Dermot Shea to invalidate the city’s ban on tasers and stun guns. The suit alleges that the absolute prohibition of these weapons represents a violation of the Second Amendment.
“While states and localities have some ability to regulate the keeping and bearing of arms, the Second Amendment prohibits states and localities from flatly prohibiting law-abiding citizens from keeping bearable arms, and particularly arms that are in common use for the purpose of self-defense,” the complaint states.
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) filed the lawsuit on behalf of three New York City residents looking to purchase a stun gun or taser for self-defense.
“As many courts have properly held, electronic arms are commonly kept and carried for self-defense,” Adam Kraut, FPC’s senior director of legal operations, said in a press release. “Under the Supreme Court’s precedents, New York City’s ban on these common arms is categorically unconstitutional. The City may not like the Second Amendment, but it cannot opt-out of the Constitution.”
Nicholas Paolucci, a New York City Law Department spokesman, told The Reload “we’ll review the case.”
Stun-gun bans have frequently been overturned by courts and repealed by legislatures in recent years following the 2016 Supreme Court decision in Caetano v. Massachusetts. In Caetano, the Court unanimously vacated a conviction under a Massachusetts law that prohibited stun guns. While the Court did not rule on the merits of the ban directly, the brief opinion hinted that stun guns could be covered by the Second Amendment. Subsequently, dozens of states and localities have done away with stun-gun and taser bans due to their Second Amendment implications.
The gun-rights organizations accused the city of trying to keep its citizens from having any legal means to defend themselves.
“New York City has traditionally labored to keep its honest citizens defenseless,” Alan M. Gottlieb, SAF founder and executive vice president, said in a press release. “However, the Second Amendment prevents states and localities from flatly prohibiting law-abiding citizens from keeping bearable arms, and particularly arms that are in common use for the purpose of self-defense.”
He also criticized the city’s efforts to uphold and enforce the ban.
“After all, it is bad enough for citizens to face having to fight criminals, but it is worse when they have to fight their own government just to exercise their right of self-defense,” Gottlieb said. “Good people should not fear being prosecuted for simply having a defensive tool for personal protection.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea did not respond to a request for comment.