Group files suit over New Jersey’s stun gun ban

A man denied the purchase of a Taser has joined with a Second Amendment organization to take New Jersey state officials to federal court.

With firearm permits in the state notoriously hard to obtain and a desire to use less lethal means if possible for liability reasons, Mark Cheeseman, attempted to buy a Taser online on Aug. 10 and was refused by the company, citing New Jersey law that prohibited them from selling the device in the state. Under current law in the Garden State, possession of stun devices by non-law enforcement personnel is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

This led Cheeseman, a member of the The Party of Six,  joined with the New Jersey Second Amendment Society in a lawsuit filed last Thursday saying the state’s ban on Tasers and other electronic arms violates the Second Amendment. The suit named Christopher S. Porrino, in his official capacity as New Jersey attorney general, and Col. Rick Fuentes, in his official capacity as superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

The filing, by attorneys Stephen Stamboulieh of Mississippi and Alan Beck of California, cite both the 2008 Heller ruling as well as the more recent Caetano case as legal precedents for their suit.

In Caetano, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the conviction of a woman who bought and used a stun gun in self-defense from an abusive ex-boyfriend, citing the device “is not the type of weapon that is eligible for Second Amendment protection” because it was “not in common use at the time of [the Second Amendment’s] enactment.” On March 21, the entire U.S. Supreme Court took one look at that logic and unanimously rejected the state’s argument.

“The Second Amendment guarantees individuals a fundamental right to keep and carry arms for self-defense and defense of others in the event of a violent confrontation,” read court documents in the New Jersey case.

The filing comes just two weeks after a similar case filed by three individuals seeking to protect themselves by means short of a firearm challenging Washington D.C.’s ban on civilian ownership of Tasers in federal court.

The New Jersey case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp, a 2012 appointment by President Obama. A summons was issued by the court to Fuentes and Porrino on Friday.