In Ramirez v. Commonwealth(April 17, 2018), the SJC reversed the denial of the defendant’s motion to dismiss a complaint charging him with unlawful possession of a stun gun under Massachusetts gun law statute, because the statute’s “absolute prohibition against civilian possession of stun guns … is in violation of the Second Amendment.”

The facts are as follows. The police vehicle in which the defendant was riding as a passenger was stopped by the police and the subsequent patfrisk of the defendant revealed that he had a stun gun in his pants pocket. The defendant was charged with possession of the stun gun and other offenses. He then filed a motion “to dismiss the stun gun charge, arguing that … the criminal prohibition of the possession of stun guns by civiliansviolates the Second Amendment.” The motion was denied, and the defendant appealed.

The SJC stated that, “having received guidance from the Supreme Court in Caetano II, we now conclude that stun guns are ‘arms’ within the protection of the Second Amendment. Therefore, under the Second Amendment, the possession of stun guns may be regulated, but not absolutely banned. Restrictions may be placed on the categories of persons who may possess them such as felons and the mentally ill, licenses may be required for their possession, and those licensed to possess them may be barred from carrying them in sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings. But the absolute prohibition in §131J that bars all civilians from possessing or carrying stun guns, even in their home, is inconsistent with the Second Amendment and is therefore unconstitutional.”