Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Right to Keep and Bear Knives

Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy (a group web log of law professors) provides some information that you can sink your teeth into about carrying knives, as distinguished from other items that can be used or utilized as weapons within the meaning of the term ‘arms’, as used in the Second Amendment, viz:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

One typically assumes that firearms are meant by the guarantee of the right, but it is not necessarily so limited.  Volokh provides a solid list of the necessary cases that deal with knives and other weapons, and one of the lines that best appeal to me on the topic involves knives being a legitimate implement of war, from the Arizona case of State vs Swanton (1981): “arms” is limited to “such arms as are recognized in civilized warfare and not those used by a ruffian, brawler or assassin”, holding that specifically nunchakus are not so defined.  This argument can be made as a point of Constitutional law as it applies to the needs of a militia, which is a concept recognised in Georgia’s allowance (Hill vs State, 1874) of “swords” and “bayonets” since they are “recognized in civilized warfare”.  Florida takes a more expansive definition in that defense in general should include “anything that a man wears for his defense, or takes in his hands as a weapon”.  Anyone with an interest in the topic should certainly refer to the article.

As a knife in general, I confess that my military background would lead me to prefer a knife with a full tang, being far more sturdy than a folding or ‘automatic’ knife (which I consider more a tool of convenience than a weapon, though a full knife could more easily be used as both).  But like the allowance of ‘open carry’ of firearms in some states, one must also consider the ‘hassle’ effect of the general populace and police who would basically prefer that you not exercise that right, and act on that feeling.

Update:  This is the source for those of you interested in how each state handles possession and carrying of 'automatic knives' (i.e., switchblades).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome and discussion is open and encouraged. I expect that there will be some occasional disagreement (heaven knows why) or welcome clarification and embellishment, and such are freely solicited.

Consider that all such comments are in the public domain and are expected to be polite, even while contentious. I will delete comments which are ad hominem, as well as those needlessly profane beyond the realm of sputtering incredulity in reaction to some inanity, unless attributed to a quote.

Links to other sources are fine so long as they further the argument or expand on the discussion. All such comments and links are the responsibility of the commenter, and the mere presence herein does not necessarily constitute my agreement.

I will also delete all comments that link to a commercial site.