Preliminary Injunction Filed Challenging the Commonwealth’s Ban on Non-Lethal Weapons

Boston, Massachusetts – Today, a preliminary injunction was filed asking the court to prohibit law enforcement from continuing to deprive Massachusetts citizens from exercising their 2nd Amendment right to own a non-lethal stun gun.

On February 16th, in a potentially precedent-setting lawsuit regarding self-defense rights of private citizens, three Massachusetts residents teamed with The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) and Commonwealth Second Amendment (Comm2A) to challenge the constitutionality of a state law banning stun guns and other non-lethal electrical weapons. The plaintiffs claim that the absolute ban on stun guns violate their Second Amendment rights and say they want the option to own non-lethal means of self-defense.

The preliminary injunction will protect Massachusetts residents from any further prosecution and protect individuals from being charged or convicted while the case progresses.

“We feel confident that the plaintiffs will prevail in this case,” said Terry Pell the President of CIR. “Any continued prosecution of Massachusetts citizens for possession of a stun gun is unjust and a violation of their constitutional rights. Law enforcement should be prohibited from enforcing this unconstitutional statute until the court can make a determination.”

The Center for Individual Rights, a not-for-profit public interest firm that specializes in civil rights, free speech and other cases affecting citizens’ rights, is working with the Boston office of the law firm McCarter & English to bring suit in federal court.

In March 2016, the US Supreme Court unanimously reversed a Massachusetts high court ruling that upheld the Commonwealth’s ban on stun guns. A Massachusetts woman, carrying a stun gun to protect herself from an abusive ex-boyfriend, was convicted of violating the statute.

“All the self-defense classes in the world can’t protect me from someone twice my size with an intent to hurt me,” said Lyn Bates a plaintiff in the case. “There are times when it is safer for me to use non-lethal method of protecting myself and women in particular should have that option.”

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, in which the Court rejected all three of the state’s justifications for the ban, the statute remains in effect and is enforced.

Electronic weapons are legal in 45 states, but in Massachusetts citizens are prohibited from selling or possessing any device which discharges “an electrical current, impulse, wave or beam.” (M.G.L. Chapter 140 Section 131J) Federal, state and municipal law enforcement officers are permitted to carry these weapons under the statute. The remaining states are facing similar legal challenges, and the New Jersey Attorney General recently conceded that the stun gun ban violates the Second Amendment.

The plaintiffs seek the ability to lawfully protect themselves by using non-lethal force when appropriate and ask that the court recognize that the total ban on electronic weapons is unconstitutional.

See opinion of Justice Samuel A. Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, concurring opinion.

About The Center for Individual Rights:

The Center for Individual Rights is a non-profit public interest firm that specializes in civil rights, free speech, and other cases affecting individual rights.  For more information visit CIR’s web site at

About Comm2A:

Commonwealth Second Amendment is a Massachusetts based is a grassroots civil rights organization dedicated to promoting a better understanding of rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.