Appeals court rules butterfly knives are protected by Second Amendment

By 
 August 8, 2023

Democrats have devoted vast energy to taking guns away from the American people, but a federal appeals court has just recognized that other weapons - namely, butterfly knives - are also legally protected tools for self-defense.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit struck down a ban on butterfly knives in Hawaii, ruling they are "arms" under the Second Amendment.

The ruling is significant, as it recognizes that the right to self-defense is fundamental - and not contingent on what tools a person uses for protection.

Knives are 'arms' too, court says

The panel consisted of George W. Bush appointee Carlos T. Bea and Donald Trump appointees Daniel P. Collins and Kenneth K. Lee.

A lower court had upheld Hawaii's ban, but the appeals panel found that the right to keep the knives is "presumptively guaranteed" by the Second Amendment.

The court derived that language from the Supreme Court, which last year handed down a new test for gun control regulations. All gun control restrictions must have a historical tradition behind them, the court said.

That analysis also applies to butterfly knives, Judge Bea, writing for the Ninth Circuit panel, said.

"At the time of the adoption of the Second Amendment, the term ‘arms’ was understood as generally extending to bladed weapons," he wrote.

“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.’"

Dangerous and unusual?

The court rejected Hawaii's claim that the knives are "dangerous and unusual" weapons - which can be restricted under the Supreme Court's precedents. Democrats have sought to classify various weapons as "dangerous and unusual," including so-called assault weapons.

"The record does not support a conclusion that the butterfly knife has uniquely dangerous propensities. The butterfly knife is simply a pocketknife with an extra rotating handle," Bea wrote.

This ruling is just the latest Second Amendment victory to cascade out of the Supreme Court's ruling in Bruen, which has led to blocks on gun control schemes all across the country.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, two men who say they use butterfly knives for self-defense, said the court's ruling was inevitable.

"Hawaii’s complete ban on this type of knife just wasn’t sustainable under the current 2nd Amendment jurisprudence,” the lawyer, Alan Beck, said. “There just aren’t any historical restrictions on pocket knives at all.”

The right to self-defense is a basic right - and it's about time the nation's courts started recognizing it.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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