New Jersey Ban on Stun Guns to End
The State of New Jersey just settled a lawsuit that will end the state’s ban on civilians buying stun guns.
Pursuant to a consent decree approved by a federal judge on Tuesday, Attorney General Christopher Porrino conceded that the state’s outright ban on electronic arms, including stun guns, is unconstitutional. New Jersey resident Mark Cheeseman and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society had filed suit in August 2016 after Taser International declined Cheeseman’s purchase order for a stun gun because NJ bans the sale of such merchandise. Cheeseman reportedly wanted a nonlethal way to protect himself and his family against home intruders or other violent offenders. At the time of the lawsuit, New Jersey was one of five states – the others being Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island – that prohibited civilians from buying stun guns.
Under the consent decree, New Jersey acknowledged that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. New Jersey lawmakers now have 180 days to craft regulations “consistent with public safety and the Second Amendment” governing the possession of stun guns. As part of the legal proceeding, AG Porrino cited a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Massachusetts’ ban of stun guns. In that Supreme Court case, Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. wrote in a concurrence that a stun gun could provide protection against a “physical threat” in the form of a “weapon that posed little, if any, danger of permanently harming” someone.
As set forth by the New Jersey criminal code in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1(t), “stun gun” means any weapon or other device which emits an electrical charge or current intended to temporarily or permanently disable a person. Moreover, according to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(h), any person who knowingly has in their possession any stun gun is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. A fourth degree crime in New Jersey permits the court to impose a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 18 months.