Keep Your Eyes on Knife Control Rulings by Tracy Marisa
In late November, 2019, a terrorist who had used knives to murder a couple of Londoners, in broad daylight, on London Bridge, was subdued by a guy with—of all things—a narwhal tusk “liberated” from nearby Fishmongers Hall. Armed with guns, the police finished off the terrorist, but most of us would consider both the terrorist and the guy wielding the tusk to have been “armed” as well.
“…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The Second Amendment is not limited to guns: Back in the day, bows and bladed weapons of all sorts were considered “arms” as well as rifles, pistols, and so forth. In fact, the first forms of arms control in the U.S. were not aimed at guns but were aimed to control bayonets, swords, and other unpopular bladed weapons; because there was a long history of prohibiting such items in English common law, there was little initial resistance to such prohibitions. Folks in Merry Old England, were not in favor of people walking the streets with hatchets (but maybe not narwhal tusks).
Starting in the mid-19th century, states started expanding “arms control” by trying to ban knives of all sorts, with varying degrees of success. By the mid-20th century, fears fostered by bad movies (among other things) about juvenile delinquents armed to the teeth with switchblades led to draconian restrictions and sometimes complete bans on all sorts of knives at the state and federal levels.
But there has been pushback in recent years, and this is important to the 2nd Amendment. For example, in Colorado, their antiquated switchblade ban was repealed in 2017. Hawaii still has a ban on butterfly knives on the books. However, there is a case pending, Teter v. Connors, in which an amicus brief filed by Mountain States Legal Foundation with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals argues that Hawaii’s ban violates the Second Amendment and is thus unconstitutional.
The Ninth Circuit, which covers the “Left Coast”, was overwhelmingly liberal until Trump started appointing justices. It has been shifting recently toward upholding individuals’ natural, fundamental, and constitutionally protected rights. A win for knives in Teter would continue this monumental shift in the Ninth Circuit’s jurisprudence and would also reinforce the constitutional basis for the gun-rights movement.
So, a win in Teter wouldn’t just be a knife-rights victory, it would be a gun-rights victory as well. Keep your eye on this and other knife-rights cases.