The Union Leader reports that New Hampshire’s antiquated law prohibiting switchblades, stillettos, daggers, and dirks has been repealed.
The law was sporadically and selectively enforced. Participants in the Highland Games, for example, carry prohibited dirks with impunity. On the flip side Abe Foote, of Abe’s Awesome Armaments in New Hampton had to spend about $7000 to fight charges for selling prohibited weapons.
There are about 125 occupatons and hobbies in which knives are primary tools. And dare I reference the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? “A well regulated militia being nessecary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear ARMS shall not be infringed.” Arms are any weapons, not just guns. From the very beginning every military and militia in the world has used and carried knives, daggers, dirks, swords, or other sharp objects.
Knives were the first tool developed by early homonids (our ancestors). They are the only tool that has stayed with us, virtually unchanged in form and function from the earliest days of our species. Knives are the single most useful tool primates have ever developed. Not having a knife is inhuman.
Switchblades are already legal in 27 states. Unfortunately Pennsylvania isn’t one of them, maybe. Here you cannot legally own or carry a switchblade, unless it is as a curio. Yet you can buy them in every flee market in Philly.
The Pennsylvania law on Prohibited Offensive Weapons states
§ 908. Prohibited offensive weapons.
(a) Offense defined.–A person commits a misdemeanor of the
first degree if, except as authorized by law, he makes repairs,
sells, or otherwise deals in, uses, or possesses any offensive
(1) It is a defense under this section for the defendant
to prove by a preponderance of evidence that he possessed or
dealt with the weapon solely as a curio or in a dramatic
performance, or that, with the exception of a bomb, grenade
or incendiary device, he complied with the National Firearms
Act (26 U.S.C. § 5801 et seq.), or that he possessed it
briefly in consequence of having found it or taken it from an
aggressor, or under circumstances similarly negativing any
intent or likelihood that the weapon would be used
(2) This section does not apply to police forensic
firearms experts or police forensic firearms laboratories.
Also exempt from this section are forensic firearms experts
or forensic firearms laboratories operating in the ordinary
course of business and engaged in lawful operation who notify
in writing, on an annual basis, the chief or head of any
police force or police department of a city, and, elsewhere,
the sheriff of a county in which they are located, of the
possession, type and use of offensive weapons.
(3) This section shall not apply to any person who
makes, repairs, sells or otherwise deals in, uses or
possesses any firearm for purposes not prohibited by the laws
of this Commonwealth.
(c) Definitions.–As used in this section, the following
words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this
“Firearm.” Any weapon which is designed to or may readily be
converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive
or the frame or receiver of any such weapon.
“Offensive weapons.” Any bomb, grenade, machine gun, sawed-
off shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches, firearm specially
made or specially adapted for concealment or silent discharge,
any blackjack, sandbag, metal knuckles, dagger, knife, razor or
cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an
automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or
otherwise, any stun gun, stun baton, taser or other electronic
or electric weapon or other implement for the infliction of
serious bodily injury which serves no common lawful purpose.
(d) Exemptions.–The use and possession of blackjacks by the
following persons in the course of their duties are exempt from
(1) Police officers, as defined by and who meet the
requirements of the act of June 18, 1974 (P.L.359, No.120),
referred to as the Municipal Police Education and Training
(2) Police officers of first class cities who have
successfully completed training which is substantially
equivalent to the program under the Municipal Police
Education and Training Law.
(3) Pennsylvania State Police officers.
(4) Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs of the various counties
who have satisfactorily met the requirements of the Municipal
Police Education and Training Law.
(5) Police officers employed by the Commonwealth who
have satisfactorily met the requirements of the Municipal
Police Education and Training Law.
(6) Deputy sheriffs with adequate training as determined
by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
(7) Liquor Control Board agents who have satisfactorily
met the requirements of the Municipal Police Education and
(Dec. 20, 1983, P.L.291, No.78, eff. imd.; July 6, 1984,
P.L.647, No.134, eff. 90 days; July 11, 1985, P.L.235, No.58,
eff. 60 days; Oct. 4, 1994, P.L.571, No.84, eff. 60 days; Nov.
6, 2002, P.L.1096, No.132, eff. 60 days)
2002 Amendment. Act 132 amended subsec. (c).
References in Text. The act of June 18, 1974 (P.L.359,
No.120), referred to as the Municipal Police Education and
Training Law, referred to in the def. of “police officer,” was
repealed by the act of December 19, 1996, P.L.1158, No.177. The
subject matter is now contained in Subchapter D of Chapter 23 of
Title 53 (Municipalities Generally).
Cross References. Section 908 is referred to in section 6105
of this title; section 3304 of Title 5 (Athletics and Sports).
So everyone walking around at any of the several Rennaissance Fairs is in violation of the law. Dramatic performance? For the employees of the fair, maybe, but not for every guy who walks in in pointy slippers and baggy pataloons. And yet if I buy something at the fair then I’m in violation of the law. Maybe.
It is high time we stopped legislating against objects and focused on actions. The law should be clear and concise and I shouldn’t have to wonder if I’m a criminal because I bought some antique style weapon at the ren fair to hang on my wall. Of course, as with all weapons laws in this state, if you’re a real criminal committing a real crime the DA will plead away all of the weapons charges. They only prosecute those if there was no other crime invovled. Like you were carrying your dagger to your car to go to the fair.
For that matter the constitutions are pretty clear. “Shall not be infringed.” in the federal constitution, and “Shall not be questioned.” in the Pennsylvania consittution. Any law is an infringement and questionning of my rights.