Another One Down Thanks To The Firearms Policy Coalition

The City of Tacoma, Washington repealed their ban on the sale, use, and possession of “electronic arms”. This means that stun guns and, presumably, Tasers will now be legal to possess and use for self defense in that city. As legal scholar Eugene Volokh notes, this is just one of many repeals in recent months. The legal reason can be traced back to the Supreme Court’s decision in Caetano v. Massachusetts which found that stun guns were indeed covered by the Second Amendment.

Most of these cities would not have dropped their bans were it not for the Firearms Policy Coalition and their attorney Stephen Stamboulieh. They have been working their way through a list of municipalities with these sort of restrictions and have threatened lawsuits if the bans were not dropped. Mr. Stamboulieh, you may remember, was (unfortunately) an unsuccessful candidate for the NRA Board of Directors this year.

The FPC released the following on their win yesterday:

SACRAMENTO, CA (June 27, 2017) — Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) today applauded the unanimous repeal of Tacoma Washington’s ban on the sale, use, and possession of electronic arms.

Attorneys for FPC sent a letter to the Tacoma City Council on April 10, which warned that the group was ready and willing to sue based on solid case law if the city refused to repeal the ban.

Said FPC attorney Stephen Stambouleih, “As the Supreme Court noted in Caetano v. Massachusetts it “has held that ‘the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.’”

As the latest municipality to repeal a ban, Tacoma was one of only a handful of municipalities nation-wide which still had an outright ban on possession and defensive use of electronic stun guns.

“The City of Tacoma did the right thing here,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “Our staff and attorneys are already reviewing regulations in other cities and states for legal violations. By no means is our work done yet.”

“I think it’s obvious the city knew they would lose any court challenge and they wisely chose to repeal this law,” said Philip Watson, FPC’s Northwest region lobbyist and spokesperson. “We’re not done taking on bans on arms protected by the Second Amendment.”

Fruit Pickin’

Smart gardeners know that when they see low hanging fruit, it’s time to be picking the fruit. The Firearms Policy Coalition and the Firearms Policy Foundation have found that low hanging fruit in cities like Philadelphia, Tacoma, and Wilmington (Delaware). The low hanging fruit is those cities’ ban on stun guns and other electronic self-defense weapons.

It is low hanging fruit due to the US Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Caetano v. Massachusetts which found such weapons are protected by the Second Amendment. Justice Alito’s concurring decision in the case decimated the argument of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court holding that stun guns were outside the Second Amendment. Among the many excellent points he made was this one regarding the argument that stun guns are dangerous:

Heller tells us anything, it is that firearms cannot be
categorically prohibited just because they are dangerous.
554 U. S., at 636. A fortiori, stun guns that the Commonwealth’s
own witness described as “non-lethal force,” Tr.
27, cannot be banned on that basis.

 So far, the Firearm Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation has filed suit against the state of New York and has successfully persuaded the City of Annapolis, MD to change their ordinance banning stun guns. In this latest round of action, they have sent demand letters to Philadelphia, Tacoma, Wilmington, and Westminster (MD) saying their bans have to go and legal action would commence.

More on their “fruit pickin'” below:

SACRAMENTO, CA (April 3, 2017) — Today, attorneys for civil rights advocacy organizations Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) sent legal letters to the cities of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Tacoma, Washington; and Wilmington, Delaware demanding that they repeal their respective bans on electronic arms or face federal Second Amendment litigation. Last week, a demand was sent to the City of Westminster, Maryland, regarding its ban.

The Philadelphia Code § 10-825 states that no “person shall own, use, possess, sell or otherwise transfer any ‘stun gun’,” making a violation of the law subject to a fine of up to $300 “and/or imprisonment for not more than ninety (90) days.”

“The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms, not only the right to keep and bear firearms,” explained attorney Stephen D. Stamboulieh in the letters.

“We hope that these cities will simply choose to comply with the Second Amendment and respect the people’s fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms,” said Brandon Combs, president of the Coalition and chairman of the Foundation, “but if they don’t repeal their unconstitutional bans, we won’t hesitate to sue them in federal court if that’s what it takes to protect the rights of law-abiding people.”

In its March 2016 Caetano v. Massachusetts decision, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Massachusetts high court, which had upheld the State’s ban on electronic arms and stun guns. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote separately to say that if “the fundamental right of self-defense does not protect Caetano, then the safety of all Americans is left to the mercy of state authorities who may be more concerned about disarming the people than about keeping them safe.” After Caetano was remanded back to the state court system, a trial judge found her not guilty and sealed her record, quickly ending the case before it could proceed.

On February 28, the City Council of Annapolis, Maryland, responded to a Second Amendment civil rights lawsuit brought by FPC, FPC, and a local resident by passing an ordinance repealing its total ban on the possession and carry of electronic arms, like Tasers and ‘stun guns’, in a special meeting.

FPC and FPF filed a Second Amendment challenge to the State of New York’s ban on electronic self-defense weapons in federal district court last December. That case is currently pending the trial court’s decision on two motions that were argued on March 24. The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction in that case and the State has indicated that it would defend its total ban on electronic arms and Tasers up to the Supreme Court.

Gov. Cuomo Sued Over NY Ban On Tasers And Stun Guns

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State of New York were sued yesterday in US District Court for the Northern District of New York over the state’s ban on tasers and stun guns. The Firearms Policy Coalition and the Firearms Policy Foundation sued the state in conjunction with Middleburgh, NY Mayor  Matthew Avitabile.

The suit is brought on Second Amendment grounds and follows the Supreme Court’s decision on a similar Massachusetts case in which they found that a stun gun is covered by the Second Amendment.

From the Firearms Policy Coalition:

FPC, FPF, and Mayor of Middleburgh Sue Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York Over Ban on Tasers and Nonlethal Weapons in New Second Amendment Legal Challenge
ALBANY, NY and SACRAMENTO, CA (December 6, 2016) — Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF), and New York resident Matthew Avitabile have filed a federal Second Amendment civil rights lawsuit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in an effort to strike down the state’s ban on the acquisition and possession of Tasers and other nonlethal (sometimes called “less-than-lethal”) weapons.
Individual plaintiff Matthew Avitabile is the mayor of Middleburgh, New York and would like to buy and keep a Taser for self-defense. But New York Penal Law § 265.01 states that “A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon” if “He or she possesses any….electronic dart gun” or “electronic stun gun,” making the crime punishable as a misdemeanor.
The complaint states that, “Given the [United States Supreme Court] decision in Heller, Defendants may not completely ban the keeping and bearing of arms for self-defense” or “impose regulations on the right to keep and carry arms that are inconsistent with the Second Amendment.”
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to a similar Massachusetts law, but that case was resolved before a final decision was reached.
Said lead counsel Stephen Stamboulieh about the case, “We are pleased to be working to vindicate Mr. Avitabile’s Second Amendment civil rights and hope to expand the right to keep and bear arms for all law-abiding New York residents through this lawsuit.”
“The Second Amendment absolutely protects the right of law-abiding people to buy and possess all arms in common use for self-defense, like Tasers,” stated Brandon Combs, president of the Coalition and chairman of the Foundation.
“We are more than happy to remind New York that the right to keep and bear arms prevails over paternalistic and unconstitutional statutes like theirs.”
Governor Cuomo and Superintendent of the New York State Police Lt. Col. George Beach are named as defendants in the case.
Stamboulieh is joined on the case by attorney Alan Beck of San Diego. Attorney Stephen Duvernay of Sacramento-based Benbrook Law Group and Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has written and taught extensively about the First and Second Amendments, are consulting on the case. Before joining the UCLA faculty 20 years ago, Volokh clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also operates the popular legal blog “The Volokh Conspiracy,” now hosted at the Washington Post.
A copy of the lawsuit’s complaint can be viewed or downloaded at
Firearms Policy Coalition ( is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization.  FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Firearms Policy Foundation ( is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. FPF’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.