Group Taking On AG Healey, Looking To Zap State’s Stun-Gun Ban

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BOSTON — A trio of citizens looking to overturn the commonwealth’s ban on personal stun guns is taking the state’s most active and vocal firearms enforcement authority figure to federal court — Attorney General Maura Healey.

In their lawsuit filed Wednesday, two Bay State residents and a self-defense activist claim the ban infringes on their Second Amendment right to bear arms and 14th Amendment right to equal protection of the laws.

Jillian Fennimore, press secretary for Healey, told New Boston Post that the attorney general is not commenting on the lawsuit as the office is still in the midst of reviewing the complaint.

The lawsuit lists plaintiff Christopher Martel as a sales engineer who installs expensive video displays “worth tens of thousands of dollars” for LG Electronics. Martel’s job, the filing notes, requires him to work odd hours and travel throughout the country, “often in downtown areas and sometimes in dangerous neighborhoods.”

“Martel believes that in this type of situation a stun gun is preferable to lethal force,” the lawsuit states.

Martel claims that despite possessing a Class A gun license, “it is not legal for him to carry a firearm in many of the states in which he travels, and he cannot bring pepper spray on an airplane.”

Martel states that he is seeking to “purchase a Taser, stun gun, or similar electrical weapon to use for lawful self-defense purposes” but “fears arrest, criminal prosecution, incarceration and fines if he purchases or possesses an electrical weapon in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

State law specifies that “no person shall possess a portable device or weapon from which an electrical current, impulse, wave or beam may be directed, which current, wave, or beam is designed to incapacitate temporarily, injure or kill.”  

Law enforcement officers, however, are not affected by the ban, which can net offenders fines between $500 and $1,000 and prison sentences between six months and two-and-a-half years.

“A law enforcement officer may arrest without a warrant any person whom he has probable cause to believe has violated this section,” the statute adds.

Last March, the United States Supreme Court shredded a Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court ruling that Second Amendment rights do not apply to stun guns. The case stemmed from a homeless Massachusetts woman named Jamie Caetano who was convicted for possessing a stun gun — Caetano claimed the weapon was necessary to protect herself from an abusive ex-boyfriend.

The Supreme Court cited its 2008 ruling that deemed Washington, D.C.’s, handgun ban to be unconstitutional.

“Caetano’s mere possession of the stun gun that may have saved her life made her a criminal,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his concurring opinion.

Caetano had been charged with possession after using her stun gun to successfully ward off an attack by her former boyfriend, according to court filings. Police were obligated to place her under arrest after discovering the weapon.

Despite the ruling from the Supreme Court essentially overturning the SJC’s finding, as of the present day, the state’s stun gun ban remains on the books.

The additional plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit against Healey include Donna Major, a magnetic resonance imaging technologist who works the night shift at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Lyn Bates, a founding member and current vice president of AWARE (Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment), a Buffalo, New York-based pro-Second Amendment women’s organization.

Bates previously worked on Caetano’s case.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Gregory D. Cote of McCarter & English, LLP, of Boston, has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Read a copy of the lawsuit:

  2017-02-16 Martel v Healey by Evan on Scribd