PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A federal judge has decided that Rhode Island’s law against residents owning stun guns and Tasers is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge William Smith ruled in favor of two people who filed a lawsuit against the state in 2019.
The Rhode Island residents claimed they wanted to purchase stun guns for self defense, but state law prohibits them from doing so.
In his decision, Smith said the state’s ban on stun guns violates the Second Amendment, which allows Americans the right to bear arms.
“The blanket ban on possession of stun guns … extends into the home and therefore implicates the core Second Amendment right,” Smith wrote.
Smith also explained in his decision that a stun gun “doesn’t implicate the safety of the public at large” in the same way that a semiautomatic weapon does because a stun gun is only effective at close range.
The state, according to Smith, failed to provide evidence that the ban on stun guns protects the public, and that the abuse of stun guns is a real problem.
“In the absence of virtually any evidence to support the state’s claim of its interests, a complete ban on stun guns cannot survive a Second Amendment challenge,” Smith added.
As a result of his decision, Smith said the state can no longer enforce the law as it relates to stun guns, though other weapons mentioned, including blackjacks, slingshots, metal knuckles and bludgeons, are still prohibited.
Prior to the ruling, Rhode Island was one of two states that bans the possession of electronic weapons, such as stun guns and Tasers. The only other state that bans the possession of stun guns is Hawaii.
A spokesperson for R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha, who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, tells 12 News they respect the court’s decision.