Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Fruit Pickin'

Smart gardeners know that when they see low hanging fruit, it's time to be picking the fruit. The Firearms Policy Coalition and the Firearms Policy Foundation have found that low hanging fruit in cities like Philadelphia, Tacoma, and Wilmington (Delaware). The low hanging fruit is those cities' ban on stun guns and other electronic self-defense weapons.

It is low hanging fruit due to the US Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Caetano v. Massachusetts which found such weapons are protected by the Second Amendment. Justice Alito's concurring decision in the case decimated the argument of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court holding that stun guns were outside the Second Amendment. Among the many excellent points he made was this one regarding the argument that stun guns are dangerous:
If Heller tells us anything, it is that firearms cannot be categorically prohibited just because they are dangerous. 554 U. S., at 636. A fortiori, stun guns that the Commonwealth’s own witness described as “non-lethal force,” Tr. 27, cannot be banned on that basis.
 So far, the Firearm Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation has filed suit against the state of New York and has successfully persuaded the City of Annapolis, MD to change their ordinance banning stun guns. In this latest round of action, they have sent demand letters to Philadelphia, Tacoma, Wilmington, and Westminster (MD) saying their bans have to go and legal action would commence.

More on their "fruit pickin'" below:
SACRAMENTO, CA (April 3, 2017) — Today, attorneys for civil rights advocacy organizations Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) sent legal letters to the cities of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Tacoma, Washington; and Wilmington, Delaware demanding that they repeal their respective bans on electronic arms or face federal Second Amendment litigation. Last week, a demand was sent to the City of Westminster, Maryland, regarding its ban.

The Philadelphia Code § 10-825 states that no “person shall own, use, possess, sell or otherwise transfer any ‘stun gun’,” making a violation of the law subject to a fine of up to $300 “and/or imprisonment for not more than ninety (90) days.”

“The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms, not only the right to keep and bear firearms,” explained attorney Stephen D. Stamboulieh in the letters.

“We hope that these cities will simply choose to comply with the Second Amendment and respect the people’s fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms,” said Brandon Combs, president of the Coalition and chairman of the Foundation, “but if they don’t repeal their unconstitutional bans, we won’t hesitate to sue them in federal court if that’s what it takes to protect the rights of law-abiding people.”

In its March 2016
Caetano v. Massachusetts decision, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Massachusetts high court, which had upheld the State’s ban on electronic arms and stun guns. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote separately to say that if “the fundamental right of self-defense does not protect Caetano, then the safety of all Americans is left to the mercy of state authorities who may be more concerned about disarming the people than about keeping them safe.” After Caetano was remanded back to the state court system, a trial judge found her not guilty and sealed her record, quickly ending the case before it could proceed.

On February 28, the City Council of Annapolis, Maryland, responded to a Second Amendment civil rights lawsuit brought by FPC, FPC, and a local resident by passing an ordinance repealing its total ban on the possession and carry of electronic arms, like Tasers and ‘stun guns’, in a special meeting.

FPC and FPF filed a Second Amendment challenge to the State of New York’s ban on electronic self-defense weapons in federal district court last December. That case is currently pending the trial court’s decision on two motions that were argued on March 24. The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction in that case and the State has indicated that it would defend its total ban on electronic arms and Tasers up to the Supreme Court.

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