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While the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted almost all legislative efforts this year, Knife Rights continues its efforts to serve our knife community and Rewrite Knife Law in America™.

Knife Rights Foundation today announced the filing of an important Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) brief in a Second Amendment lawsuit currently before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The case, captioned Teter v. Connors, challenges the State of Hawaii’s outright ban on butterfly knives. You can view or download the brief at http://bit.ly/teter-kr-brief.

Previously, the district court ruled in favor of the State on its motion for summary judgment, finding that Hawaii’s butterfly knife ban “does not severely burden” the Second Amendment and that it survives intermediate scrutiny because it “further[ed] the State’s important interest to promote public safety by reducing access to butterfly knives, which leads to gang related crime.” If that sounds like a regurgitation of the baseless arguments used to enact switchblade bans in the 1950’s, that’s because it is.

Balisong knives are legal to possesses and carry in at least 43 states (16 because of Knife Rights’ efforts repealing switchblade and butterfly knife bans since 2010), and Hawaii is one of only three states that specifically ban these knives. The district court’s flawed analysis failed to consider that Hawaii had no ban on these commonly available knives until 1999, and data does not show that the ban was tailored to an actual problem, let alone that it meaningfully reduces crime.

The Knife Rights coalition brief clearly shows that under the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedents, including the District of Columbia v. Heller decision, the knives are not both “dangerous and unusual,” are commonly possessed for lawful purposes, and are protected under the Second Amendment. That’s why, Knife Rights and the other amici argue, the State’s prohibition must fail.

“Butterfly knives, like all knives, are arms protected by the Second Amendment. It is time states like Hawaii stop banning knives in common use based on a fictional threat derived from 1980’s action movies,” explained the brief’s author, attorney John W. Dillon of Dillon Law Group APC.

“Hawaii’s ban on butterfly knives is both irrational, as are all such knife bans, and unconstitutional under the Second Amendment,” said Knife Rights’ Chairman, Doug Ritter. “Knife Rights is proud to be able to support this appeal of an absurd ruling by the district court and appreciate the collaboration and support from our good friends at San Diego County Gun Owners and Firearms Policy Coalition.”

“The ability to defend yourself is important to our members and we are proud to fight for Second Amendment rights in all forms,” commented Michael Schwartz, San Diego County Gun Owners PAC’s executive director.

“FPC is delighted to join our friends at SDCGO and Knife Rights in filing this brief to defend Second Amendment rights,” said FPC Director of Research, Joseph Greenlee. “Butterfly knives are important self-defense tools and certainly among the arms that the people have a right to keep and bear.”

Click here to read the Amicus Curie brief.

Click here to read the 2013 law review article, “Knives and the Sec... authored by noted Second Amendment scholars Dave Kopel, Clayton Cramer and Joe Olson. This article provides the scholarly foundation for many of the positions in the original case and this brief.

About Knife Rights Foundation

The 501(c)(3) Knife Rights Foundation (www.KnifeRights.org) is dedicated to defense of knife owners’ civil rights. The Foundation also works to educate knife owners, public officials and the general public about knife and edged tool related laws and regulations.

About San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee

Founded in 2015, the San Diego County Gun Owners (www.sandiegocountygunowners.com)is a registered political action committee (FPPC ID #1379388) and advocacy organization focused on organizing the gun industry and community and protecting the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.

About Firearms Policy Coalition

Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend constitutional rights—especially the right to keep and bear arms—advance individual liberty, and restore freedom through FPC Law, FPC Research, FPC Policy, FPC Grassroots, and other programs.

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Do we have any rights to carry hammers or screwdrivers?  If so, why? 

Are there any circumstances under which we do NOT have the right to carry hammers or screwdrivers? 

There's no outcry when when people have been arrested for carrying hammers & screwdrivers.  (Some people do get arrested for carrying hammers & screwdrivers.)

Generally speaking, making the argument that butterfly knife carry -- or any knife carry -- is protected by the Second Amendment has a serious Achilles heel.  It concedes that the knife is a weapon, giving up the argument that it's a tool for general use, as well as conceding the reason for carry in the first place was to use that knife as a weapon.

Not that I'm providing any legal advice to anyone here, I don't now the law in Hawaii, or any other states, nor am I making comments on any specific legal case, settled or pending.  Don't take what I write here as legal advice.

Doug, I definitely appreciate the work you're doing on behalf of people who carry knives, and there's no question that you and Knife Rights have made a lot of progress.  I just think there could be ramifications for this approach down the road.  

Do you track criminal knife cases after the adopted laws have gone into effect?  I'd be really curious to see that if so.

On another note, balisongs are culturally associated with certain islands in the Pacific.  Hawaii is a state made up of Pacific islands.  Hm.  

Okay, I see the Table of Contents of this brief seem to be addressing these things.  I will give it a read -- though I'm still a little confused about the 2A argument -- sounds like it's being made in the alternative?

The Second Amendment doesn't say "guns" or "knives."  It says "arms"  Knives are sometimes an "arm" when used or carried as a weapon You will note that the tag line for our logo is "Essential Tools - Essential Rights™." 

Knife Rights recommends that you NEVER claim to be carrying a knife for self-defense when interacting with law enforcement for the very reason you note. It can open a can of worms, especially in major metro areas.

Knife Rights did not file this lawsuit and if we were filing a 2A lawsuit involving knives, it wouldn't be in the 9th Circuit. That being said, the lawsuit having been filed, lost at the District Court, and now on appeal to the infamous 9th Circuit, we can only do our damnedest to try and make the very best arguments we can in favor of the claim. When handed lemons, make lemonade.   

Doug, I've gotta say that brief was an entertaining read!

I especially liked the inclusion of the history of the balisong, and the clear tie to the Philippines.  That was an incredible summary for a balisong enthusiast such as myself, & it included mention of the surge in the popularity of the balisong in the 80's, which often seems to be left out of discussions of the history of these knives.  As I recall, the surge in popularity of butterfly knives in the 80's was completely analogous to the switchblade in the 50's, & it was movies that led to these knives being banned, not actual crime statistics.

Regardless, I loved that the brief called out the absolute lack of evidence presented to assert that balisongs were related to gang crime, or any crime for that matter.  Given that so many things have been used as weapons, the State was just being lazy in not showing even one example of an assault in which a butterfly knife was used.  Which really made it sound like these knives were banned based on occasional portrayals in popular culture rather than due to statistical increases in use in crimes. It's like banning candlesticks because Colonel Mustard killed Professor Plum with a candlestick in the conservatory.

I hope I can speak for all of us when I say that we definitely appreciate the results Knife Rights have obtained so far.  You've really opened things up for knife carry in many places, and at a rate of speed that couldn't have occurred without your concerted efforts.

If you track outcomes in these states after the various repeals & enactments, please let us know.

I know you generally post here to inform us of what's going on, and I know I'm not the only one who appreciates that.  Thank you.

--Edit:  I wrote an additional post without having refreshed the page, so I missed the fact that you'd posted a response.  Thank you for that -- now I understand.  I've edited this post to reflect that.  And that was some sweet lemonade.

Doug, I should also add that I'm a big fan of your knives, too.  I very much regret not picking up the Perseverance when I had the chance, but I'll definitely put in a vote to get those back into production (please let me know if you do)!  Here's one of your designs I did jump on in time, however:

Thanks so much!

dead_left_knife_guy said:

Doug, I should also add that I'm a big fan of your knives, too.  I very much regret not picking up the Perseverance when I had the chance, but I'll definitely put in a vote to get those back into production (please let me know if you do)!  Here's one of your designs I did jump on in time, however:

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