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Could it be? (Texas to allow switchblades)

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Wolfebyte, May 23, 2013.

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  1. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    It never hurts to get official rulings.

    I think that if someone can make a good case for it and finds a willing representative, it would not be terribly difficult to get a lot of the TX knife laws reworked during the next legislative session to be more common sense.

    Getting additional items off the prohibited/illegal list might be tricky, but I think it would be possible to get some proper definitions inserted in place of the undefined and ambiguous terms that now pepper the law.
     
  2. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    You'd be surprised.

    The preemption attempt was blocked by one committee chairman so preemption stalled and was stripped from the attempt and switchblade repeal went through.

    Just because laws are outdated and nonsensical to us doesn't mean they're easy to get rid of when there's a body of myth around knives.
     
  3. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    Well, I never cease to be amazed at what legislators will and won't go for, so you could be right.
    I can guess the committee chairman's district--or at least who he's friends with. This one was bound to get some opposition from specific districts that were going to be affected by the preemption law. It doesn't really surprise me that someone found a way to block it.

    Things that I could see as possible would be changing the prohibition against dirks/daggers to a prohibition against double/multi-edged knives.

    Another prime example is the prohibition against swords which doesn't actually prohibit anything at all since there are no swords with blades shorter than 5.5".
     
  4. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    The info hso has provided came straight from the KR lobbyist. I was in on the same conversation at Blade. If you aren't a KR member already, PLEASE join them and support the cause. I was barely aware of the organization until a year ago, and now I've gone from joining to working as a volunteer at their booth at Blade over the weekend. KR is getting results.
     
  5. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    The old joke about how politics and sausage are made is pretty accurate. There are rules to the game, but they recognize that politics doesn't have to make sense and that many politicians can't be trusted.
     
  6. lloveless

    lloveless Member

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    What does the preemption thing mean?
    ll
     
  7. Torian

    Torian Member

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    I've lived in TX for awhile and carried a spring loaded / button activated Gerber for quite some time. I've never been entirely clear as to the legality of it either (use it as a duty knife, but also carry it in plain clothes). Even the MPs on our installation are unclear on this issue.

    http://www.brownells.com/shooting-accessories/knives-amp-personal-defense/knives/gerber-applegate-fairbairn-covert-serrated-automatic-knife-prod45486.aspx

    On a side note: it's a great knife with quality steel (S30V)
     
  8. rondog

    rondog Member

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    Wow! What kind of draconian laws/restrictions do they have on bayonets? A 10 to 16 inch double-edged manstabber mounted on the end of a rifle? Ermergawd!
     
  9. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    It means that state law preempts local law, so local municipalities cannot have laws more restrictive than those of the state.
     
  10. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Torian,

    Until KR got this bill through you were committing crime if you carried that Gerber Covert Auto in public.
     
  11. Torian

    Torian Member

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    I should have mentioned that I'm a member of the armed forces (active duty). I'm tracking that there were exemptions in place for us, along with LEOs, for carrying this knife.

    Of course, it does become problematic when I'm carrying it off duty in civvies. Either way, I'm glad for the fidelity now on the issue.
     
  12. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    It's worse than that. Unless you owned/posessed the knife in question "solely as an antique or curio", or "incidental to the performance of official duty by the armed forces or national guard, a governmental law enforcement agency, or a correctional facility", it was illegal. Not just when it was carried in public although carrying it in public would likely make it impossible to try to claim that the knife was owned solely as an antique or curio.

    Switchblades were/are NOT "Unlawful Carrying Weapons"--i.e. weapons which are legal to own but subject to carry restrictions in public.

    Switchblades were/are "Prohibited Weapons". As such, it was/is illegal to "intentionally or knowingly possess, manufacture, transport, repair, or sell" a switchblade knife.

    Why all the "were/are", "is/was" verbiage? The new law doesn't go into effect until 1 September. Don't jump the gun.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2013
  13. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Not off base there isn't. That mistaken impression of special privilege only extends to while in uniform and only while on official business. Since there can't be much official business for military off base except in very limited extraordinary circumstances you could be charged just like anyone else. Moreover, you could also be charged with carrying a dagger with the Applegate Covert Auto in your pocket. A "two-fer".
     
  14. Torian

    Torian Member

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    Yikes. You are right about that "mistaken impression" thingy. I had no idea that it was restricted to on post activities.

    In regards to the dagger charge: the Covert Auto looks like it has a double-edge in the photo, but it doesn't (just decorative...dull edge). Would the dagger charge still hold?
     
  15. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Yep

    They don't care if it is sharpened or not. Only if it has the profile of a dagger making it a "stabby thing". Considering the fact that crimes are almost exclusively committed with a kitchen or steak knife or box cutter that can be thrown down most knife laws are grossly antiquated. That's why KR is fighting these silly and outdated laws to keep guys like you from getting tossed in jail for carrying a knife they can by in many places and that a criminal won't spend the money on.
     
  16. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    There's no official definition of dagger in the TX law. So there's no way to know for sure that any particular knife is or isn't a dagger.

    I've not heard of it being based specifically on blade profile, but that doesn't mean anything. You're almost certainly in trouble with a double-edged knife, but there's nothing saying you're in the clear if it's not double-edged.
     
  17. rondog

    rondog Member

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    Seriously - are bayonets legal to own in TX? I have no clue, but from what you guys are saying about the laws, I'm curious.

    I mean, they're long, double-edged, stabby things, and only good for wall hanging or killing men. Not really useful for anything else, except maybe probing for landmines
     
  18. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    It's legal to own bayonets, but you can't carry them off your own property unless they aren't daggers/dirks/bowie knives/swords/spears and don't have blades over 5.5". Knives that fit one or more of those mostly undefined categories are "unlawful carrying weapons".

    Switchblades (for another few months) fall under the category of "Prohibited Weapons". That category includes machine guns and explosive weapons and has an entirely different set of restrictions. In general, ownership of items in that category is not legal.
     
  19. Torian

    Torian Member

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    I appreciate the well-researched responses to the question about TX switchblades (HSO, JohnKSa). I can now see why there are groups fighting so hard to remove these absurd laws from the books.

    Since I have moved to AZ since in the last week, I will no longer directly benefit from the changes in the law, but I'm glad my fellow Texans will.
     
  20. Wolfebyte

    Wolfebyte Member

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    There is case law on the definitions in Texas.. as usual, in different places..

    “Illegal Knife” means a:
    (A) knife with a blade over five and one half inches;
    Rainer v. State, 763 S.W.2d 615 (Tex. App.-Eastland 1989, pet. ref’d) To determine
    length, measure entire length of blade past handle, not just the sharpened portion of the
    blade. Same result in McMurrough v. State, 995 S.W.2d 944 (Tex. App.-Ft. Worth 1999).

    (B) hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown;
    Albert v. State, 659 S.W.2d 41 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1983, pet. ref’d) Martial
    arts throwing star qualifies as “a hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being
    thrown”.

    (C) dagger including but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard;
    Armendariz v. State, 396 S.W.2d 132 (Tex. Crim. App. 1965) A knife slightly over seven
    inches in length when open, equipped with a double guard, blade that locks open and is
    sharpened on both sides of blade for over an inch meets the definition of a dagger.

    (D) bowie knife;
    Mireles v. State, 192 S.W. 241 (Tex. Crim. App. 1917) A knife in a scabbard with a blade
    nine inches long and a handle four or five inches long described as a butcher knife was
    embraced in the term “bowie knife” as defined by the Penal Code.

    _________________
     
  21. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    Very interesting--thanks for posting.

    Unfortunately while the case law provides some useful information it doesn't really provide definitions.

    The dagger/dirk/stiletto/poniard definition, for example tells us one type of knife that qualifies as illegal, but doesn't tell us whether or not a knife that fails to meet one or more of those qualifications might still be an illegal knife. So, while we know that a knife that is:
    • Over seven inches in length when open
    • equipped with a double guard
    • blade that locks open
    • sharpened on both sides of blade for over an inch

    ...is an illegal knife, we still don't know if a knife that is:

    • Exactly seven inches in length when open
    • equipped with a single guard
    • blade that locks open
    • sharpened on one side of blade for over an inch but only for 0.75" on the other side

    ...is an illegal knife.

    In other words, the case law provides examples of illegal knives and that lets us know for sure (in at least some cases) that a given knife is illegal. But those examples still don't provide enough information to let us know for sure if a knife is legal if it doesn't fully meet the qualifications that resulted in one particular instance of prosecution.
    Which is ridiculous... A knife with a blade 9 inches long is already illegal under the blade length limitation in the law. I have no idea what the point of the bowie knife restriction in TX is.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2013
  22. Wolfebyte

    Wolfebyte Member

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    I've got the LexisNexis print outs of the original case and the re-hearing. Along with the Hernandez v State in June 1893.

    It leads a very bumpy path from an assault with a "bowie" knife, that was later determined to be a 'butcher' knife.

    Then to the 1917 case of Mireles v The State the "Carrying Bowie Knife - Definition refers to Article 1027, Penal Code, "a bowie knife is defined to be a knife intended to be worn upon the person which is capable of inflicting death, and not commonly known as a pocketknife and where the knife carried by the defendant in a scabbard and the blade was about nine inches in length and a handle four or five inches long, such character of knife is embraced in the statutory definition of a bowie knife. Following Hernandez v State, 32 Tex. Crim. 271"

    I've got the 3 cases on .pdf files.. Got our city atty to look print them for me as I couldn't find a good source online. Google had some the the Southwestern Reporter, but they were poor copies. I've attached them here.
     

    Attached Files:

  23. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Wolfebyte,

    I don't grasp the point you're trying to communicate.
     
  24. Wolfebyte

    Wolfebyte Member

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    Morning hso,

    Sorry about that, the above court cases set for the definition of "bowie" knife in the Texas courts. The case law for a bowie knife refers back to Mireles v State, when actually the first case was Hernandez v State in 1893. These were just the original case law and how they shaped our weird knife laws in Texas.
     
  25. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the explanation.

    The history of prohibition of carrying "Bowie" and "Arkansas Toothpick" is interesting and dates back to the period of mad popularity of so-called Bowie knives and "dueling". From Texas to Tennessee laws were enacted to stop the honor fights by the attempt to stop the carrying of these weapons. Like so many outdated laws, these are still on the books in many places.
     
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