The Volokh Conspiracy

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Right to Possess Stun Guns in N.Y., Right to Carry Them in Illinois

Two Second Amendment wins late last week.


[1.] New York was one of the few states that banned all private possession of stun guns; Friday's decision by U.S. District Court Judge David N. Hurd in Avitabile v. Beach held this was unconstitutional. Illinois banned carrying stun guns on one's person in public places.

[2.] The Illinois Supreme Court had earlier held that the Second Amendment secures a right to carry guns (a matter on which courts are split), and on Thursday it held in People v. Webb that the Second Amendment likewise secures a right to carry stun guns. The logic of this opinion would also invalidate, I think, the bans on irritant sprays (such as pepper spray and mace) in some Illinois towns (see pp. 246-47 of this article).

[3.] By my count, this means that, since D.C. v. Heller, stun gun bans have been invalidated or repealed in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, D.C., the Virgin Islands, Overland Park (Kansas), and Annapolis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tacoma, and in four Maryland counties (Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Harford County, and Howard County).

Stun gun bans remain in effect, to my knowledge, in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Wilmington (Delaware), plus some smaller towns. The Hawaii law is being challenged in court, and I'm told that it is headed for legislative repeal. Stun guns are also heavily regulated (e.g., with total bans on carrying in most places outside the home) in Connecticut and in some cities. For more, see this article, though the listing of restrictions in Appendix II is now out-of-date.