The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Wright v. D.C., just filed today, is a Second Amendment challenge to D.C.'s stun gun ban; the case is being litigated by lawyer George Lyon, who was one of the original plaintiffs in the Heller handgun case. Here is a summary of why the named plaintiffs want to have Tasers; I think it's a very good explanation of why restrictions on Tasers are serious burdens on self-defense, even when handguns are legally allowed:
Plaintiff Crystal Wright is an individual who is outspoken on political matters. She operates a blog on the Internet under the name "Conservative Black Chick." As a result of her blog posts, she has been threatened with physical harm. One person sent her an email saying that he intended to break into her home and bash her head in.
Ms. Wright has been trained in firearms and contemplates obtaining a firearm to protect herself in her home in accordance with District of Columbia law. She is ready, willing and able to use deadly force to defend herself and her home from a potentially lethal attack, if necessary and unavoidable.
Plaintiff Wright, however, is aware that there are significant and adverse legal, financial, social and psychological ramifications of using deadly force to defend against a home invasion or personal attack. She is aware that even where use of deadly force is justified, a victim forced to use deadly force may be taken into police custody, arrested and prosecuted. She is aware that she would likely have to go to the expense of hiring an attorney to protect her rights in the criminal justice system. She is aware that she would be at the mercy of police, prosecutors and jurors who will have weeks or months to second guess a decision to use deadly force made in seconds in the face of a threatened attack.
Ms. Wright is aware that even where use of deadly force is justified, a victim may be sued by the perpetrator if the perpetrator survives, or by the perpetrator's family, if the perpetrator does not survive. The victim may have to go to the expense of hiring an attorney to defend the civil proceeding and will be at the mercy of a jury second guessing in the comfort of a jury room the decision to use deadly force made in a seconds in the face of an attack.
Ms. Wright is aware that persons forced to use deadly force in their defense will likely suffer one or more types of psychological distress.
Ms. Wright is aware that persons forced to use deadly force in their defense will likely suffer from the withdrawal and isolation of friends and families, especially if their use of force results in the death of the perpetrator.
Ms. Wright is aware that persons forced to use deadly force in their defense will likely suffer from one or more manifestations of Post Violent Event Trauma ("PVET"). Manifestations of PVET can include sleep disturbance including sleeplessly or nightmares, sexual dysfunction or promiscuity, substance abuse, depression or malaise, appetite disturbance, social withdrawal or social ostracism, aggression or avoidance syndrome and flashbacks. . . .
Ms. Wright would prefer to minimize the likelihood that she would have to resort to deadly force in the event she is forced to defend herself or her home from a violent criminal attack.
In appropriate circumstances, Ms. Wright would prefer to utilize a Taser for defense of herself and her home due to its proven effectiveness and its proven record of minimizing injury to suspects and/or assailants. . . .
Plaintiff [Brandon] Turner has twice been the victim of armed robbery. He fears the possibility of another potentially violent if not lethal confrontation. Yet, Mr. Turner is reluctant to obtain a firearm for personal defense for two reasons. First, he has a young child at home and is not comfortable having a firearm under that circumstance.
Second, Mr. Turner is aware of the significant legal, financial, social and psychological ramifications of using deadly force to defend against a home invasion or personal attack as discussed above. . . .
Plaintiff Traci R. Dean is employed as a nurse. She often works late into the night. She desires to possess, carry and if necessary use a suitable arm for self-defense. Although she is legally able to register a handgun in the District of Columbia she is wary of owning a deadly weapon. . . .
I think the lawsuit should prevail, for reasons I givein this article; but I look forward to seeing what arguments D.C. offers for why, when people have a right to have deadly weapons, they shouldn't have a right to own almost entirely nondeadly ones.
UPDATE: See also this article in the Washington Times (Andrea Noble).