A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Trenton is hoping to shoot down New Jersey’s general prohibition on stun guns and Tasers, which the plaintiffs argue is unconstitutional.
Resident Mark Cheeseman sued the state after Taser International, citing N.J. law, refused to ship a stun gun to his home.
“If you want to defend yourself in your home, you’re basically left with a bat or a gun. You can’t use a Taser,” said attorney Stephen Stamboulieh, who is representing Cheeseman and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society in court.
“Some people might want to use a Taser instead of having to kill somebody or shoot someone.”
In March the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a stun gun ban in Massachusetts, saying the reasoning behind the law was flawed.
That ruling has spawned other lawsuits to overturn stun gun bans across the country, including one filed earlier this month in the District of Columbia.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s office said it does not comment on pending cases.
While it may seem intuitive to allow citizens to carry generally non-lethal stun guns for self-defense, University of Pennsylvania law professor Paul Robinson said there is an argument to be made against them.
“People worry that citizens will use [stun guns or Tasers] too easily and that people, if they had firearms that were more deadly, would be hesitant to use them,” he said.
Robinson said stun guns can also cause unintended injuries — say if you were to be stunned and then fell down — but he agrees that they are one of the better non-lethal options for self-defense.
Earlier this year, former N.J. Acting Attorney General John Hoffman relaxed the rules on stun gun use by police officers, in an effort to how often they use deadly force.