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Bowie Knives, Texas Law, and Exceptions

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Anthony, Jan 19, 2003.

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  1. Anthony

    Anthony Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    Sometimes back I was speaking with Bill Bagwell who lives here in Texas like I do. Although the law says a person in Texas can carry a single edged knife with a blade of up to 5 1/2 inches, I swear Bill told me about an exception to the law that would allow you to carry a large knife like the Bowies he makes. It had something to do with carrying a specific amount of money. About $500 if memory serves.

    After looking around in our state penal code I can't find such an exception beyond the usual "traveling" and being "involved in an activity (e.g., hunting, hiking) in which such a knife would be used." Also, I know our concealed carry handgun permits do not allow us to carry large blades. As Bagwell is well versed in the history and laws of the Bowie knife I feel he must be right or my memory is not working so well.

    I could be mistaken, but I really don't think so.

    Is there anyone who can shed some light on this for me?

    Thanks for the help.

    - Anthony
     
  2. para.2

    para.2 Member

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    Bagwell may well have sources other than these but according to Texas Penal Code, carrying an "Illegal weapon" on or about the person is a misdemeanor., and, by their definition:

    (6) "Illegal knife" means a:
    (A) knife with a blade over five and one-half inches;
    (B) hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown;
    (C) dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stilletto, and poniard;
    (D) bowie knife;

    If there's an exception, I can't find it.
    :confused:
     
  3. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    Given the choice between carrying my usual three dollars plus a Spyderco or $500 cash and a Bagwell Bowie, I do believe I'd feel safer with the Spydie. Mr. Bagwell makes wonderful knifes, but come on!
     
  4. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    The Bagwell-licenced factory reproductions by Ontario are really excellent :).

    Bill Bagwell is one of a very small number of people who know how to make a light-feeling, "tip agile" big bowie. Until you handle one and swing it around a bit, you really won't understand. Mad Dog knows what he's doing in that department too, the Panther just sends shivers up your arm if you understand what you're holding. Ernie Mayer at Black Cloud is another good'un, and probably the best value in a handmade (ground versus forged in Ernie's case) big fighting Bowie.

    There's *maybe* three others that really know how a big Bowie should work. The rest try and make "brute force" critters.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2003
  5. brownie0486

    brownie0486 Member

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    I have two Bagwell Hells Belles presently and one on order due in after two years wait anytime now.

    One at 11 1/8 " blade
    One at 10 1/2 " blade length.

    The one coming soon is a damascus Belle in 11 1/8" blade with a 14,000 yrs old wooly mammouth/mastadon ivory handle cut from a block of ivory I sent him that weighed 6 pounds.

    The ontario knockoffs Bill has authorized are good knives but on the expensive side for what they are in my opinion. They give the feel of his blades to a degree but my real 11 1/8" Bagwell literally moves into different directions while in use almost effortlessly.

    It may be hard to believe but that one can be held by someone at a 45 degree angle and if they have their eyes closed can't feel the blade on the handle, it's that balanced and thats what makes it so fast.

    The 11 1/8" bladed Belle is the same knife he carries regularly. These knives will reach out and touch you quickly.

    I have trained on the long knives with Bill as well over the years, the man knows his history of the long knives [Bowie types] and knows how to use them like they did back then when the knife culture of the south was alive and vibrant.


    Brownie
     
  6. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    I believe it. I ran into a gentleman with a Bagwell Hell's Belle at the BLADE show in Atlanta a few years ago, and it was a revelation. Out of my price range, though.
     
  7. snow

    snow Member

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    I am concerned about this because I am moving to Texas next week and I own a SOG seal pup elite. It is under the 5.5 blade maximum but I wonder does the blade shape constitute a bowie. I carry this knife a lot as my primary and wonder how it would be judged in Texas. I also have a Camillus BK7 that has the clip point shape. Are these two knives going to be a no no in Texas or can I still carry two of my favorites?
     
  8. Vonderek

    Vonderek Member

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    Good grief! It's illegal to carry a Bowie knife in Texas??? I would think that would be the first place it would be legal given that 'ol Jim gave his life for Texas freedom! It should be mandatory to carry one there just out of respect!
     
  9. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    Yep we got some dumb as Bricks Laws down here in TX.

    No Bowies and No OC.
     
  10. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    They banned bowies because of dueling. Kinda like banning a tool because of a behavior.
     
  11. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    I knew the reason why but I see they didn't ban guns because of dueling they just outlawed dueling. Sorry HSO I taught Texas History for several years.
     
  12. middy

    middy Member

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    As long as there is no second edge (a sharpened swedge) it's not considered a bowie knife.
     
  13. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Ahh, but guns were considered too broadly useful, at the time, while bowies were a nice narrow area of cutlery to ban because of their mystique. Not enough support for the bowie compared to the gun so the tool gets banned instead of the behavior (as you so correctly pointed out was the reverse for handguns).

    Perhaps the first of the perception over reality bans.

    Daggers may have preceded the ban back east, but I'd have to dive back into the knife histories to be certain.
     
  14. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    Yep I have a double edge boot knife that I never had issues with in Arkansas but my reading of the Texas legal Code on them means it stays at home. I had used my Parkers Brothers Smokey Mountian Toothpick to cut electrical tape with for years. Now it is all cleaned up and is clipped in the side pocket of my easy chair to cut cheese and summer sausage with.
     
  15. middy

    middy Member

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    OC is legal in Texas.
     
  16. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    Where did you read OC is legal off your property in Texas?
     
  17. glistam

    glistam Member

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    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.46.htm
     
  18. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Pepper spray vs Open Carry?

    Can I OC a can of OC?
     
  19. 8830

    8830 Member

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    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.46.htm#46.05

    (14) "Chemical dispensing device" means a device, other than a small chemical dispenser sold commercially for personal protection, that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of dispensing a substance capable of causing an adverse psychological or physiological effect on a human being.
     
  20. middy

    middy Member

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    Oh you meant open carry! I thought you were talking about pepper spray... :D
     
  21. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    That is not spelled out in the law anywhere.
    Neither is this, nor do I recall having commonly heard either one repeated as fact even from less legitimate sources.

    One of the biggest problem with TX knife laws is that, for the most part, there are no careful definitions in the law. The law says a "bowie knife" is illegal but doesn't state what a "bowie knife" is. Same with "daggers"--although they do give you some examples of "daggers" to help a little.

    As far as I know only exceptions that allow one to carry illegal knives are:

    • Being in the actual discharge of official duties as a member of the armed forces or state military forces as defined by Section 431.001, Government Code, or as a guard employed by a penal institution;
    • Being on your own premises or premises under your control unless you are an employee or agent of the owner of the premises and your primary responsibility is to act in the capacity of a security guard to protect persons or property, in which event you must comply with another section of law
    • Traveling (which is not defined in the law).
    • You are engaging in lawful hunting, fishing, or other sporting activity on the immediate premises where the activity is conducted, or are en route between the premises and your residence, if the knife is a type commonly used in the activity;
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2009
  22. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Don't bet on any LEO or court accepting the detail of sharpened swedge being the deciding factor in your freedom. If it looks like a bowie you will be treated like it's a bowie by 99% of the people you talk to.
     
  23. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    That is OK Middy I was refering to Open carry.
     
  24. middy

    middy Member

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    I don't think a decent lawyer would have much of a problem fighting the charge, though. A clip-point, single-edged, fixed-blade knife of 5.5" or less is legal. All it would take is a comparison to an actual Bowie knife in person for a judge to dismiss the case. Probably.
     
  25. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    Here's the problem with that reasoning.

    It's a given that a knife OVER 5.5" is illegal. So logically speaking the additional knife prohibitions MUST be prohibiting knives that are under 5.5" but that have characteristics that make them undesirable compared to other legal knives under 5.5". It wouldn't make sense to have a double prohibition in the law.

    In other words a dagger is an illegal knife even if it's under 5.5" so there must be a separate prohibition for daggers--the 5.5" length restriction isn't sufficient to outlaw daggers. Same with throwing knives, and presumably the same with bowie knives.
    Unfortunately that's another can of worms. There is considerable debate among experts regarding what constitutes an "actual Bowie knife". About the only things that seem to be commonly held are that it was a fairly large fixed blade knife with a prominent metal guard. I can not recall any expert claiming that a sharpened swedge is a distinguishing factor although some knives that are generally accepted to be Bowie knives do have this feature.

    I do agree that a sharpened swedge could possibly make a knife illegal in TX, but not because that makes it a bowie knife--rather because a double-edged knife could plausibly fit a loose definition of a dagger.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2009
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