Since the Heller decision, much of the focus on the individual right to keep and bear arms has been about what guns we have a right to keep and bear, and how. Handguns, most specifically, and the lawful means of carrying them for protection outside the home, and certain semi automatic rifles “and the like” labeled as assault weapons for their cosmetic characteristics, but also wrapped up in that is the very nature of the function of every semi automatic firearm. Challenges to laws that have placed restrictions on the keeping or bearing of these firearms have been difficult due to hostile courts and the lack of precedent, leaving the door wide open for those courts to leave restrictions in place.
But an often overlooked category of arms has been receiving the most Second Amendment wins in court since (and due to) Heller - tasers.
Why are tasers such a big deal? First, why shouldn’t they be? It cannot be denied that they are in fact a tool of personal defense, and non lethal defense at that. Second, there are still many places in which people have no lawful means to carry a firearm for personal defense. Tasers provide at least some level of legal protection while those laws are being challenged. However, some pstates and local government have placed outright bans on the keeping and bearing of these types of arms, and those bans fly directly in the face of Heller.
Attorney Alan Beck has filed a lawsuit in Hawaii on behalf of his client Mr. Andrew Namiki Roberts challenging Hawaii’s total ban on this non lethal form of personal defense, a Second Amendment challenge he will likely win.
The plaintiff, while a legal resident, cannot apply for a handgun carry permit because Hawaii law only allows permits to be issued to US citizens (which it never does, even for the average law abiding citizen). Because he is a photographer and often carries expensive equipment, he desires to possess and carry a taser for self defense and other lawful purposes in his home, business, and while traveling between these locations and all other locations.
This isn’t Mr. Beck’s first rodeo as it pertains to challenging taser bans on Second Amendment grounds. He was co-counsel in overturning the taser ban in New Jersey in Second Amendment Society v Porrino, New Orleans in Ford v City of New Orleans, Annapolis in Hulbert v Pantelides, and is also litigating against another taser ban in New York, Avitabile v Beach.
Some localities, like Philadelphia and Westminster, repealed their bans on the possession of tasers with nothing more than a demand letter.
Victories for the personal ownership and carrying of arms other than firearms sets precedent for future cases. If you have a right to keep and carry one type of arm, you have the right to keep and carry others. While some are working from the top down, going after the big apples like “assault weapons” without much success in hostile courts (and a Supreme Court that won’t take 2A cases and slap down lower courts improper decisions post-Heller), working from the bottom up is just as beneficial. If Heller has stated you have the right to arms of lethal defense like handguns, you certainly have the right to other arms of lethal defense such as knives and the like, and especially arms of non lethal defense such as tasers.
And if you have the right to “arms” as defined, you have a right to ALL “weapons of offence, or armour of defence,” or “anything that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another”. You have a right to any form of personal arms that you choose, and any law which restricts your ability to even possess such an arm ought to be struck down wherever it exists.