In 2013, the CEO of TASER International estimated that 70% of those purchasing their C2 model Taser were women. It’s no wonder that these small, effective, and non-lethal means of self-defense have proved so popular. But despite their popularity and effectiveness, five states and a handful of localities continue to ban all electric weapons. Regardless of their intent, these laws often have a disproportionate impact on working class women. And the punishment is often severe. In Massachusetts, for instance, anyone caught with an electric weapon can be fined -- or even jailed.
That’s what happened to Jaime Caetano. A friend gave Caetano a stun gun after an abusive boyfriend beat her and sent her to the hospital. When the boyfriend showed up again - threatening and cursing her - she drew the stun gun and told him to leave her alone. It worked. But the state quickly put that to an end. One day when Caetano was out shopping, the store she was in was robbed (a grim reminder that individuals most in need of self-defense live closer to crime). When police arrived, they conducted a routine search of everyone on the premises. When they found Caetano’s stun gun, they charged her for possessing an electric weapon. Under Massachusetts law, the maximum punishment for the offense is two-and-a-half years in jail.