What's a weapon and is it legal to carry?

Discussion in 'General Weapons Discussion' started by Bill Mattocks, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

    • Martial Talk Alumni
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2009
    Messages:
    14,451
    Likes Received:
    2,458
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Michigan
    First, I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice. It is my opinion based on some previous experience in law enforcement. Laws differ from place to place, and the wise person will find out what the laws are concerning weapons and concealed carry in the place where they live, and consult an attorney rather than relying on advice from random internet yahoos, including myself in that.

    I have seen several posts recently, espousing carrying different items intended for self-defense, under the argument that they are not traditional weapons, therefore they are legal to carry and even to use for self-defense. Most of these arguments rely on the 'logic' that they can simply tell a law enforcement officer that the items used were not intended to be used as weapons and therefore they will not be arrested. Hmmm, yeah, no.

    There are obviously items which everyone understands to be weapons, such as a firearm or a fixed-blade knife. I think we all understand that if you go about armed with either of those, you stand little chance of being able to argue that they were actually intended for a non-defensive purpose and therefore are not weapons. I mean, good luck with that.

    However, internet 'wisdom' seems to believe that just because an item isn't a traditional weapon as such, or has a different purpose, it's not a weapon and is therefore legal. For example, a screwdriver, a kubaton, various punch-enhancers in the form of 'brass knuckles', steel balls, and so on.

    Are they weapons? That depends very much on the circumstances. A screwdriver is not a burglar tool if I have a box of tools and am engaged in repairing something. A screwdriver in my back pocket at oh-dark-thirty while I am crouched by the basement window of some house other than my own? Yeah, burglar tool. It's not the screwdriver, it's the circumstances.

    So you happen to carry around your ben-wa balls in your pocket (weird, but whatever) and you carry them for the express purpose of defending yourself. A punch enhancer, something to throw at someone, etc. Yeah, so the steel or stone balls by themselves, not weapons. But the context changes when you punch someone in the head with your hand wrapped around one, or use it as a hammer on a skull, or whip them at someone. Then, they *might* be weapons. And they *might* be considered illegal weapons.

    There is no hard-and-fast rule. Everyone wants there to be a magical list of 'weapon/not weapon' and there isn't one. Some weapons may indeed be specifically named, but that doesn't mean nothing else is a weapon.

    I went to court once with a guy who killed someone in a bar parking lot with a black powder rifle. The old-fashioned muzzle-loading kind. He was a felon, forbidden from owning firearms. He reasoned (because that's what ignorant people do) that since you don't have to go through a background check to buy a black powder gun, it's therefore not a gun. The judge saw it differently, and he was convicted of some form of homicide, and felon in possession of a gun. But it's not a gun, judge, don't you get it? Nope, the judge did not get it. There's the problem. We 'reason' that we know better than the law. Often a mistake.

    So a ben-wa ball is not a weapon. True. If you use it for its intended (ew) purpose. Maybe - maybe - you could carry around a set and a cop *might* not consider them concealed weapons. Depends on the circumstances. If you use them to defend yourself (or heaven forbid, to break the law and assault someone), don't expect the cop to listen to your learned discourse about how some dude on the interwebs said it would be perfectly OK. Said dude won't be showing up in court to speak up in your defense. Said dude won't be serving your prison sentence or paying your fine.

    There are legal ways to arm yourself in much of the USA. If you wish to go about armed, I suggest you take advantage of them, so there is no reason to have to explain to a cop how the strange objects in your pockets are actually intended for pleasure and not for bashing skulls in.

    I'm going to quote a little Canadian law, just because it makes things easy to understand. Most US law is similar but couched in legalese and harder to grasp. This one is easy:

    Canadian Criminal Law/Weapons - Wikibooks, open books for an open world
    1. anything designed to be used as a weapon;
    2. anything that a person uses as a weapon, whether that thing is designed as a weapon or not; and
    3. anything that one intends to use as a weapon regardless of its design
    I really like the simplicity of that, don't you? There are clearly things designed to be used as weapons. A pistol, a rifle, a shotgun, a sword, a knife, Ninja throwing stars, etc. There are things which we've seen in threads here that are intended to be used as weapons. And there are things which perhaps (maybe) were not actually intended to be used as weapons, but ended up being used that way. Maybe you carried that bullwhip to hold up your pants. Yeah, maybe.

    Keeping to that 'simple is best' theme, I will close with this. If your imagination tells you that you'll just tell the cop that X, Y, and Z and therefore he or she can't arrest you, you may find yourself mistaken. I cannot tell you how many people have informed me that I could not arrest them while I did just exactly that.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 2
  2. ST1Doppelganger

    ST1Doppelganger Brown Belt

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2014
    Messages:
    473
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    58
    I carry an old man cane in each one of my cars as a low profile self defense tool. If someone asks what it's for I will simply say it's for one of my multiple Injuries that randomly get inflamed from time to time.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

    • LifeTime Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    Messages:
    15,879
    Likes Received:
    3,701
    Trophy Points:
    308
    Location:
    Pueblo West, CO
    Yes it is, and maybe.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

    • LifeTime Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2005
    Messages:
    9,772
    Likes Received:
    1,328
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Where the hills have eyes.,and it's HOT!
    • Like Like x 1
  5. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

    • Advisor
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    3,880
    Likes Received:
    915
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Huber Heights, OH
    The thing is... most cops aren't idiots.

    If the cop looks you up and down and thinks, "regular joe, not a criminal, just wanting a legal and safe way to defend himself" then he won't hassle you. If he looks you up and down and thinks, "dude's up to no good," then your <cough> "simple cane" becomes a club.

    If you're unlucky and are in a state or local which encourages cops to go after folks trying to be legally armed through so-called <cough> "loopholes" (I'm looking at you New York), then the cop may ask if you've got a Doctor's Note because you don't look to him like you need a cane (no joke, it's happened).

    Or if you just get unlucky and get one of the rare cops that are on a power trip and he wants to hassle you, and you're in a local with a vague "going forth armed" law (yes, they still exist).

    Look, I get it. I've carried a cane for self defense too. And I've concocted the same "old injuries" story. But I knew that it's just a "cover story" that gives a friendly cop the plausible excuse to not hassle someone he doesn't think is a criminal. I distinctly remember going to the local government center to pay a traffic fine with my wooden cane. I had to walk through the metal detector and the cop manning the station sent the cane through the x-ray. He asked me if I needed help standing or walking through without the cane. "No, thank you," I said. He gave me a knowing side-ways look, nodded to me, and waved me through.

    Cops aren't idiots.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
    • Like Like x 7
  6. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

    • LifeTime Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2005
    Messages:
    9,772
    Likes Received:
    1,328
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Where the hills have eyes.,and it's HOT!
    Eh. I'm. Missing toes. And I've had 4 DVTs
    And I'm nearly 60.
    My cane:I may not always need it, but I've always got it.
    Like my pistol, only more often.....
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

    • Martial Talk Alumni
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2009
    Messages:
    14,451
    Likes Received:
    2,458
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Michigan
    Good luck with that. It's an assumption that might or might not fly. "I will simply say" fits right in there with the idea that you to tell a cop what's what.
     
  8. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    2,411
    Likes Received:
    729
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    Southeast
    I still have my 6-cell Mag light behind the seat. It is clearly a light but.... turn it around and, well you don't have to have a vivid imagination. It is scarred and banged up so it shows use beyond being a light. Could that be used against me in certain situations, sure. As soon as someone steps into a grey area of law (way too many) you better be prepared and be very careful with your wording.
    I also have a .22 rifle in my truck 1-2 days/week. Coyote's are a big problem in my area. It is always loaded for quick use but if I got pulled over at night and the officer was having a bad day, they could make it a long night for me.
    I went to a call in a urban housing area and a girl had tied three 18 volt batteries together with wires and was going around shocking kids. When we got there her alibi was she was using them for work. This was true based on what she was doing when we got there. We had nothing to charge her with but later one the people she attack filed charges. She pled guilty to misdemeanor assault.
    Too it happens in todays society where people run with limited information about an occurrence to make it fit their own agenda.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    11,555
    Likes Received:
    1,942
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    What are the coyotes doing, that makes them such a problem?
     
  10. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    2,411
    Likes Received:
    729
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    Southeast
    Killing calf's. It is not a pretty sight.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2015
    Messages:
    6,674
    Likes Received:
    1,936
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Which is why I don't invest in cover stories to use on them.

    You are find with the cane unless it had a long blade in it lol. Then it would have been an entirely different conversation.

    Walking canes aren't illegal (if it's just a cane) so the best that they can do is analyze the risk that you may use it as a weapon. Had you been upset and yelling, then they would have secured the cane. Not because it's a weapon, but because the risk of you using it as a weapon has just gone up.

    Let me find out this is really you. lol
     
  12. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    2,411
    Likes Received:
    729
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    Southeast
    :happy::happy::happy:
     
  13. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

    • Advisor
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2005
    Messages:
    3,880
    Likes Received:
    915
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Huber Heights, OH
    You're telling me? I was there. :)


    There's lots and lots of flexibility there. You can get arrested and charged for just about anything, even if there's limited or no proof. Even if the charges are eventually dropped because they got noth'n, you're still out a lot of time, money, and headache. Look at the case of Paul Lathrop. A false report was made, which was EASILY refuted but the local authorities arrested him anyway because they had an agenda. He was out not just his weekend, he was out the job time he missed while incarcerated, he was out the job time he missed going to and from the legal proceedings, because the local authorities didn't want to believe him about his diabetes he didn't get his meds and it endangered both his career (professional driver) and his very life. Now, years later, he's still paying back money he borrowed to deal with this false and easily refuted allegation. And the man who made the false report never showed up. He's gone. In the wind. Likely left the country.

    All it takes is a cop in a bad mood for something similar to happen to you, particularly if you're in a self-defense unfriendly area (New York, New Jersy, Marryland, etc.).

    What keeps it more-or-less working is that most cops in the U.S. aren't idiots and aren't powertripping douchebags. They're mostly good folks who genuinely want to help people.

    It's my younger brother. ;)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes MT Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Messages:
    5,353
    Likes Received:
    3,834
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Lexington, KY
    Love that guy.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

    Top Poster Of Month

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    20,772
    Likes Received:
    6,066
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    Even those of us who actually need the cane from time to time can be subject to those same issues. For unknown reasons, my limp gets much worse when in the vicinity of any X-ray scanner or security screening. Something about them just makes my knees worse.

    Seriously, I often carry a cane when I don't need it, because I know I'll probably need it the next day (an entire day of standing while teaching nearly guarantees problems some weeks). So, even with an actual, predictable need, those same cops looking for a reason to cause trouble would look askance at me. I do actually have medical records to show the knee issues, but of course I wouldn't have anything with me to show that.
     
  16. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Messages:
    11,555
    Likes Received:
    1,942
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Interesting. Their diet usually consists of mice and ground squirrels and gophers, those rodents that we find annoying and pesty. They can grab a mouse as quickly and easily as I can grab an apple from the refrigerator.

    Have people actually witnessed them making the kills? Typically when they feed on larger animals it is scavenging and not direct killing. For example, Biologists have witnessed them waiting patiently for several days, for a sick white-tailed deer to die before feeding on it. Even with a weakened and dying animal they didn’t attack it.

    From what I’ve read, they don’t turn to farm animals unless their habitat has been pretty severely disrupted and they don’t have other choices. And even then it’s often unclear if they made the kill or its scavenging.

    We’ve got coyotes and they come up by the house all the time. I’ve got lots of critter-cam photos, a real critter highway runs along the side of my house, deer, foxes, raccoons, opossum, coyotes, skunks pass through every day. I’ve never heard of such issues in our area, though we don’t have cattle around here. Some people keep horses but I can’t imagine coyote ever going after a horse.

    There was some stir last year on our Nextdoor community, apparently a breeding pair set up a den close to a trail that gets heavy use, and they were chasing people away from it. Everyone just gave them their space until the pups were big enough to move away and there were no real problems.
     
  17. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Messages:
    3,381
    Likes Received:
    479
    Trophy Points:
    143
    As usual, Bill has spoken the truth in a matter. In Michigan, there is also the "intent to go armed". I have seen someone arrested and taken to jail because they had a small pen knife that would have been completely legal to carry, but he told the officer that it was to defend himself. It was now a concealed weapon. Now a different story and where MANY people get into trouble is the next layer of the legal system. The cops may or may not go with the story and forward the report to the local PA/DA in your jurisdiction. How do they view such cases? In the above scenario, they may also chose to prosecute the guy with a small pen knife as a CCW or they may deny the request since it doesn't meet the parameters of their office to prosecute certain crimes.

    I personally arrested a dirt bag because he had one of those gimmicky lighters that had a 1 1/2 switchblade as part of the lighter. Why? Because he was a career criminal and an illegal switchblade and CCW was a good way to get him off the streets. The prosecutor also agreed and charged him with it.

    Another one that truck drivers use a lot that can get them into trouble are the "tire checkers", which are just billy clubs.

    IF you are not going to get a legal CPL for whatever reason or can't get one for whatever reason. Talk to a local attorney that is very familiar with how your local PA/DA office looks at cases and get advice. Buying a "Tactical Pen" just looks like you want to stab someone with a pen because no normal person buys them unless that is their reason to use it as a weapon. For goodness sake, buy a nice steel Cross brand pen (or similar) for a fraction of the cost and no one will bat an eye at it in your shirt. Buy a GQ magazine and roll it up, hard as a baton but doesn't look like anything and doesn't draw attention.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  18. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    2,411
    Likes Received:
    729
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    Southeast
    I am not sure what point you are trying to make. Like you said, you don't have cattle. They are known to stalk and take advantage of a newborn when it is too young to stand and walk well. Too many documented events of confirmed kills by coyote each year to count. They pack hunt at times. They are a wild animal and should be treated as such. It is unlikely to catch them on a trail cam other than on a frequented trail, which is not in the middle of an open field where calf's are usually born. We occasionally have farmers lose livestock to dogs (wild and "not wild"). You can apply for government reimbursement for lost livestock from attacks but that is an unwise and inhumane way to raise cattle. It is what you don't see that you are not acknowledging. You are welcome to come to TN and take all the coyotes you can catch back west with you.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Messages:
    2,411
    Likes Received:
    729
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    Southeast
    Good points but I am just as likely to walk around with a magazine (rolled up or otherwise) at night as I am a "tire checker". As much as possible I am going to follow the Cub Scout motto.
     
  20. mrt2

    mrt2 Purple Belt

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2018
    Messages:
    349
    Likes Received:
    188
    Trophy Points:
    198
    I am an attorney in Wisconsin, and this is the definition of dangerous weapon in Wisconsin. There are a lot of laws where if you do something while armed with a dangerous weapon, it increases the penalty, sometimes significantly. The easy one is the first one, a firearm. But as you see, the last one is a catchall that covers anything from kitchen knives, to baseball bats, to martial arts weapons.

    (10) “Dangerous weapon" means any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded; any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm; any ligature or other instrumentality used on the throat, neck, nose, or mouth of another person to impede, partially or completely, breathing or circulation of blood; any electric weapon, as defined in s. 941.295 (1c) (a); or any other device or instrumentality which, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Informative Informative x 1

Share This Page