Jaime Caetano v Massachusetts

http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/032116zor_h3ci.pdf

This is a huge win for the 2nd Amdendment! Note that Per Curiam means ‘without dissent’.

PER CURIAM.

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,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 582 (2008), and that this “Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States,” McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 750 (2010). In this case, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld a Massachusetts law prohibiting the possession of stun guns after examining “whether a stun gun is the type of weapon contemplated by Congress in 1789 as being protected by the Second Amendment.” 470 Mass. 774, 777, 26 N. E. 3d 688, 691 (2015).

The court offered three explanations to support its holding that the Second Amendment does not extend to stun guns. First, the court explained that stun guns are not protected because they “were not in common use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment.” Id., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 693. This is inconsistent with Heller’s clear statement that the Second Amendment “extends . . . to . . . arms . . . that were not in existence at the time of the founding.” 554 U. S., at 582.

The court next asked whether stun guns are “dangerous per se at common law and unusual,” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 694, in an attempt to apply one “important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms,” Heller, 554 U. S., at 627; see ibid. (referring to “the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons’”). In so doing, the court concluded that stun guns are “unusual” because they are “a thoroughly modern invention.” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 693–694. By equating “unusual” with “in common use at the time of the Second Amendment’s enactment,” the court’s second explanation is the same as the first; it is inconsistent with Heller for the same reason.

Finally, the court used “a contemporary lens” and found “nothing in the record to suggest that [stun guns] are readily adaptable to use in the military.” 470 Mass., at 781, 26 N. E. 3d, at 694. But Heller rejected the proposition “that only those weapons useful in warfare are protected.” 554 U. S., at 624–625.

For these three reasons, the explanation the Massachusetts court offered for upholding the law contradicts this Court’s precedent. Consequently, the petition for a writ of certiorari and the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis are granted. The judgment of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

5 thoughts on “Jaime Caetano v Massachusetts

  1. Hope you’re right. I read all that mess twice & I still can’t make heads or tails of it.

  2. How about plain English?
    Common folk do not understand legalese.
    Massachusetts thinks we should only have muskets?

  3. Pingback: SCOTUS: MA Stun Gun ban... overturned - Page 3

  4. I’ll try to help.

    First paragraph: Supreme court is first referencing two cases that it plans to use to explain it’s decision. In DC vs Heller the Supreme Court said that the 2nd amendment applies to all arms even if they weren’t around at the founding. Second case is McDonald vs Chicago that says the 2nd amendment applies to all States. Basically, they are laying the foundation that the second amendment applies to all bearable arms even if they weren’t around in the beginning and that this interpretation of the 2nd amendment applies to all state laws. At the end of that first paragraph they talk about the new case which is about whether Massachusetts can ban stun guns. The Mass Supreme Court said that the law banning stun guns in Mass was perfectly legal.

    Second paragraph deals with the first reason why the Mass Supreme Court decided to uphold their law. That reason was that stun guns weren’t around when the 2nd amendment was drafted so it could be banned without violating the 2nd amendment. The US Supreme Court explains that this was not a good reason to ban stun guns because the US Supreme Court stated in their ruling in DC vs Heller (remember that first paragraph?) that a weapon didn’t need to be around at the founding to be covered by the 2nd amendment. They get a bit snarky, too, and say that part of DC vs Heller is a “clear statement.” In common speak they are saying: “Dude, really? It says it right there. How could you get that wrong?”

    Third paragraph deals with the second reason the Mass Supreme Court decided to uphold their law. This one is a little trickier to follow. Mass Supreme Court references a part of the DC vs Heller case but they are looking at reasonable limitations. They say there is a historical precedent for preventing people from carrying dangerous or unusual weapons. This is true. We don’t let people walk the streets with brass knuckles, a machete, or suitcase nukes. Where Mass Supreme Court messed up, though, was equating “unusual” with “not around at the founding.” The US Supreme Court doesn’t even bother going into why this is wrong. They just say in the last sentence “See above for why you’re wrong” and move on. In essence, you can ban unusual weapons but you can’t say “unusual” means “anything modern” because DC vs Heller states that something didn’t need to be around when the 2nd amendment was drafted to be protected by the 2nd amendment today.

    Fourth paragraph is the third and final reason why the Mass Supreme Court upheld their law that stun guns can be made illegal in their state. This time around they use a “contemporary lens” to say that stun guns aren’t used in the military so they aren’t protected. One can only assume that what they are trying to say is that when the 2nd amendment was drafted all available types of guns were guns also used by the military. Therefore, the 2nd amendment was really more focused on weapons that could be used in times of war. The US Supreme Court points out that DC vs Heller covered a lot of stuff and one other issue it addressed was that a weapon didn’t have to be a military weapon to be protected by the 2nd amendment.

    The last paragraph is the Supreme Court saying that the decision to uphold the stun gun ban is vacated and that the Mass Supreme Court needs to look at the matter again. When it does review the issue it needs to make a decision that doesn’t contradict the three things previously discussed. So, if the Mass Supreme Court decides to uphold the stun gun ban it will have to do so for reasons it didn’t even consider before. Since most people don’t bring their B Game to the State or US Supreme Court then we can be fairly certain that this was the best they could do and they will now have to reverse their decision on the matter which will overturn the law banning stun guns in Mass.

    “It is so ordered.” That means what you think it means!

    Hope that helps and if I got anything wrong then please feel free to point it out. Like the internet needed permission for that, though!

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