Hawaii’s ban on butterfly knives violates Second Amendment, federal appeals court rules

Hawaii’s ban on butterfly knives violates Second Amendment, federal appeals court rules

Hawaii’s law banning butterfly knives violates the Second Amendment, according to a ruling yesterday by a three-judge panel by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Here is an excerpt from the ruling yesterday in Teter v. Lopez, in an opinion by Judge Carlos Bea, joined by Judges Daniel Collins and Kenneth Lee.  All three Ninth Circuit judges who heard the case were appointed by Republican presidents, but the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals consists mostly of Democrats. The court explained:

The butterfly knife, also known as the “balisong,” has a disputed origin. Some sources say it originated in France; others, the Philippines. It is anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand years old. Regardless of its origin, the butterfly knife resembles an ordinary pocketknife, a tool that has been used by Americans since the early 18th century (at the very latest). See State v. Delgado (Or. 1984). Like a pocketknife, the butterfly knife comprises a handle and a folding blade, the cutting edge of which becomes covered by the handle when closed. Unlike a pocketknife, however, the butterfly knife’s handle is split into two components. Together, these two components fully encase the blade when closed and rotate in opposite directions to open. With a few short, quick movements, an experienced user can open a butterfly knife with one hand….

[J]ust as with firearms in Heller, bladed weapons facially constitute “arms” within the meaning of the Second Amendment. Like firearms, bladed weapons fit the general definition of “arms” as “[w]eapons of offence” that may be “use[d] in wrath to cast at or strike another.” Moreover, contemporaneous sources confirm that, at the time of the adoption of the Second Amendment, the term “arms” was understood as generally extending to bladed weapons. See 1 Malachy Postlethwayt, The Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce (4th ed. 1774) (including among “arms” fascines, halberds, javelins, pikes, and swords). Because the plain text of the Second Amendment includes bladed weapons and, by necessity, butterfly knives, the Constitution “presumptively guarantees” keeping and bearing such instruments “for self-defense.” …

Read the whole opinion at this link. In theory, the State of Hawaii could seek rehearing of this decision by the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, whose 28 judges are mostly Democrats. Rulings in favor of Second Amendment rights by three-judge panels of the Ninth Circuit are later usually reversed by the full Ninth Circuit court sitting en banc.

But the logic of the ruling striking down the ban on butterknives seems to be logically dictated by Supreme Court decisions such as Massachusetts v. Caetano (2016), which vacated the conviction of a woman for possessing a stun-gun. That ruling illustrated that weapons need not be guns to be protected by the Second Amendment. So this ruling may not be reversed by the full Ninth Circuit.

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.

Comments

For your convenience, you may leave commments below using Disqus. If Disqus is not appearing for you, please disable AdBlock to leave a comment.