Right to bear arms?

geezer

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OK...reader beware, I'm about to spout off a totally un-informed, off-the top-of -my-head opinion again about something that bugs me. Apologies in advance. Anyway, I'm not a big second ammendment activist. I really don't mind the idea of registering or getting a license for my guns--as long as it's cheap. Of course it wouldn't solve anything, but it's normal for government to try and control us and tax us for the privilege at the same time. That's why we revolted against England, right? So we could abuse ourselves without British help.

Anyway, all that aside, I just think that as a reasonable, law-abiding citizen geezer, I should be able to keep and bear ordinary arms. Not flame-throwers, rocket launchers and high explosives, but ordinary things like hunting rifles, shot guns, pistols, swords, knives and my various martial-arts weapons. No problem right? WRONG!

For some reason (the power of numbers, that is), my 12 gauge is totally legal for me to carry where I live, but many far less destructive traditional martial arts weapons may be banned. Why is it legal and acceptable to carry a very lethal firearm but not a large knife, balisong, pair of nunchaku, collapsable asp-style baton, sword (katana, itak, ginunting, kris, kampilan, etc.). Honestly, I feel like I have to hide my athletic bag in the trunk when I go to teach class. Then I worry about getting accused of violating "concealed" weapons ordinances if I'm ever stopped and searched. Since I routinely commute accross several city and county lines, I can never keep up on all the changing ordinances anyway. Que lio!

So, in short, what about our supposed "Right to keep and bear arms?". I guess it has nothing to do with the lethality or intent of the "arms" involeved. Instead, our "right" only applies to the popular and culturally acceptable firearms of our occidental heritage. Nevermind that during late colonial times, swords were still a common arm of self defense and a backup to the slow-to-reload muskets of the Revolutionary War period. My question to all of you is, "Does this seem right? And if not, is there anything we can do about it?" Well?
 

tshadowchaser

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Far be it from me to disagree with what your saying. Having been arrested back years ago for carrying my balisong I totally agree with you. The fact that I was going to a practice fifteen minutes later and had placed it (in a case) in my pocket got me arrested for carrying a concealed weapon and they tried to hit me with a federal charge but that had been amended to a misdemeanor week before (thankfully). About two months later the law in calif. was once again changed to make it many more years in jail if caught with one on you for what ever reason. Heck they have a catch all law so you can be arrested if caught carrying a box cutter that you use at work and had on you when going to or from work.

I also object to being told that I have to have a license to carry what I consider personal protection.
I have to admit to being against the registering of firearms. I do not really like the idea of the government being able to one day say all firearms are against the law then breaking down my door to confiscate my weapons.
 

grydth

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Read the law on "Martial Arts Weapons" in the Peoples Republic of New York.

If you can find any sense or consistency in that thing, please let us know!
 

jks9199

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Anyway, all that aside, I just think that as a reasonable, law-abiding citizen geezer, I should be able to keep and bear ordinary arms. Not flame-throwers, rocket launchers and high explosives, but ordinary things like hunting rifles, shot guns, pistols, swords, knives and my various martial-arts weapons. No problem right? WRONG!

For some reason (the power of numbers, that is), my 12 gauge is totally legal for me to carry where I live, but many far less destructive traditional martial arts weapons may be banned. Why is it legal and acceptable to carry a very lethal firearm but not a large knife, balisong, pair of nunchaku, collapsable asp-style baton, sword (katana, itak, ginunting, kris, kampilan, etc.). Honestly, I feel like I have to hide my athletic bag in the trunk when I go to teach class. Then I worry about getting accused of violating "concealed" weapons ordinances if I'm ever stopped and searched. Since I routinely commute accross several city and county lines, I can never keep up on all the changing ordinances anyway. Que lio!

Concealed weapons laws generally develop in response to problems. People carrying brass knuckles and beating people or robbing them leads to a law against brass knuckles. Gang attacks with machetes and a gap in the definition of knife, dirk, bowie, etc. led to Virginia enacting a specific prohibition against both carrying a concealed machete (yes, bangers do this!) and brandishing a machete.

But these laws also respond to perceived problems. In the 70s and 80s when "numchucks or Asian fighting sticks" (as one code reads) first came to popular prominence, they were hailed as "lethal instruments" -- so legislators jumped on 'em. (I'm actually not personally aware of a single instance where nunchaku were used in an assault -- though that obviously doesn't mean it didn't happen!) In the late 80s, 60 Minutes did an expose on dangerous martial arts weapons. One prominent scene featured some form of shuriken or throwing star being embedded in watermelons as "proof" of how dangerous they were. Black Belt Magazine responded with an editorial where they stuck numerous items, including sunglasses, pens, and more, into a watermelon. Perceived problem: hordes of ninja-wannabes running around committing murders, robberies and mayhem. Legislative solution: Make them crazy ninjer weapons illegal. No actual need to check into history of offenses with those weapons...

In Virginia, the general prohibition of carrying a concealed weapon regarding knives reads "any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, slingshot, spring stick, metal knucks, or blackjack" (I know, several of those aren't knives). Outside of school grounds, the length of the blade is not an issue; we look to the intent or purpose. A box cutter in the pocket of Phil the receiving clerk at work is very different than that same box cutter in the pocket of Machado the banger at 2 AM in the street. At the same time, it's a routine tactic (and I almost got to be qualified as an expert on knives once!) for a defense attorney to challenge the design of the knife in question when someone's charged with carrying a concealed knife... I've seen attorneys and judges pore over descriptions in dictionaries. The point I'm moving towards here is that some items have legitimate tool use and are also defensive tools, like a folding knife. Others, like brass knuckles or even nunchaku, don't. But most cops do use common sense. I stop someone with a gym bag of martial arts gear who's carrying a pair of nunchaku in the outside pocket, and I'm probably not arresting the guy. I stop a guy in baggy jeans with a pair on an improvised hook down his pant's leg... or hung on the inside of his jacket... different question.

Yes, it's a gap that there's no provision for obtaining a permit to carry a knife or other non-firearm concealed. (Though I think it's also legitimate to ask how many people would seek such a permit.) And some states are much more restrictive than Virginia on some of these things.

(By the way -- I've also seen evidence of the reverse of the knee jerk. A few years ago, VA law changed to very specifically describe concealed guns as firing a projectile by burning explosive propellant. I can only figure some politician or politician's buddy got tagged with a concealed weapon charge over a bb gun or the like.)
 

Grenadier

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Many weapons are forbidden for a simple reason:

Media hype

If you think about it, many of these forbidden weapons, as stated above, aren't really that effective, and that someone could easily carry around something far more effective.

Switchblade knives, for example, are forbidden (carrying them; you can still own them in many places), yet in all honesty, they're not nearly as good of combat knives as a good quality folding, lockback knife. I can open up my Spyderco Police blade with at least the same speed as someone with a switchblade can open his, and my blade will be much superior.

Why are switchblade knives forbidden, then? Hype.

Several folks made a huge stink about how switchblades were the weapons of choice by gangbangers, etc., and politicians willing to pass silly legislation forbidding these, found sympathetic ears that they hoped would become votes in their corner in the future.

In the end, though, did such legislation really stop anything? No. Gangbangers will continue to stab (and shoot) each other with whatever means needed. They'll use ice picks, hunting knives, folding knives, or any improvised shivs, to do what they will, and the switchblade laws had no effects on their actions.
 

Brian S

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I carry a spring assisted folding knife. Just as fast as a switchblade,but I'm not aware that it's not legal(it may be).

Ofcourse, in Arkansas, everyone is armed and crime is low.....go figure.
 

Rich Parsons

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OK...reader beware, I'm about to spout off a totally un-informed, off-the top-of -my-head opinion again about something that bugs me. Apologies in advance. Anyway, I'm not a big second ammendment activist. I really don't mind the idea of registering or getting a license for my guns--as long as it's cheap. Of course it wouldn't solve anything, but it's normal for government to try and control us and tax us for the privilege at the same time. That's why we revolted against England, right? So we could abuse ourselves without British help.

Anyway, all that aside, I just think that as a reasonable, law-abiding citizen geezer, I should be able to keep and bear ordinary arms. Not flame-throwers, rocket launchers and high explosives, but ordinary things like hunting rifles, shot guns, pistols, swords, knives and my various martial-arts weapons. No problem right? WRONG!

For some reason (the power of numbers, that is), my 12 gauge is totally legal for me to carry where I live, but many far less destructive traditional martial arts weapons may be banned. Why is it legal and acceptable to carry a very lethal firearm but not a large knife, balisong, pair of nunchaku, collapsable asp-style baton, sword (katana, itak, ginunting, kris, kampilan, etc.). Honestly, I feel like I have to hide my athletic bag in the trunk when I go to teach class. Then I worry about getting accused of violating "concealed" weapons ordinances if I'm ever stopped and searched. Since I routinely commute accross several city and county lines, I can never keep up on all the changing ordinances anyway. Que lio!

So, in short, what about our supposed "Right to keep and bear arms?". I guess it has nothing to do with the lethality or intent of the "arms" involeved. Instead, our "right" only applies to the popular and culturally acceptable firearms of our occidental heritage. Nevermind that during late colonial times, swords were still a common arm of self defense and a backup to the slow-to-reload muskets of the Revolutionary War period. My question to all of you is, "Does this seem right? And if not, is there anything we can do about it?" Well?


Geezer,

I had a police officer try to explain the difference between a knife and a gun to me.

A gun is a defensive weapon.

A Knife (* And other Martial Art Weapons *) are offensive weapons.

I do not agree with the logic. It might be the way the laws or local laws look at the subject, but I do not agree with it.

Arms included swords and daggers, which I believe should also be allowed to be carried in a responsible manner.
 
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geezer

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...The point I'm moving towards here is that some items have legitimate tool use and are also defensive tools, like a folding knife. Others, like brass knuckles or even nunchaku, don't.

...But most cops do use common sense. I stop someone with a gym bag of martial arts gear who's carrying a pair of nunchaku in the outside pocket, and I'm probably not arresting the guy...

Yes, it's a gap that there's no provision for obtaining a permit to carry a knife or other non-firearm concealed.

Not to nit-pick JKS, but look carefully at what you wrote. In the first comment quoted above you suggest that it's OK to carry an object that has legitemate use ase a tool, but not something that is only used for self defense. Going back to the Second Ammendment argument, why the hell not?

In the second comment quoted, you point out that most cops have common sense. That's certainly been my experience too. But why should our legal rights be a matter of someone's subjective judgement? I don't want to have to go around never knowing if I could be subject to arrest depending upon whether or not a cop likes my attitude, style of dress, part of town I'm in, or ethnic background...

Finally, we agree that there is a legal problem or, "gap" as you put it. The question is, is there anything that can or should be done to fix it?
 

jks9199

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Not to nit-pick JKS, but look carefully at what you wrote. In the first comment quoted above you suggest that it's OK to carry an object that has legitemate use ase a tool, but not something that is only used for self defense. Going back to the Second Ammendment argument, why the hell not?
The same item, in a different context, carries a different meaning. Some items, like brass knuckles, have no legal use, and thus are easy to define as illegal. Others, like knives, aren't so easy. Only by looking at the totality of the circumstances can we asses their intent.

Let me use "burglarious tools" as another example. They amount to anything that could aid and assist in committing a burglary -- screwdriver, prybar, even tape. At 2 PM, in the hands of a maintenance worker, they're not a problem. At 2 AM, in the hands of someone who has no ties to the area... especially if said guy is skulking around closed shops.
In the second comment quoted, you point out that most cops have common sense. That's certainly been my experience too. But why should our legal rights be a matter of someone's subjective judgement? I don't want to have to go around never knowing if I could be subject to arrest depending upon whether or not a cop likes my attitude, style of dress, part of town I'm in, or ethnic background...
Because we entrust the safeguarding of EVERYONE's rights to the cops and courts. Simple fact: If I want to hook you up, I can almost certainly find a reason. It may or may not stand up in court later (if I play that game, it almost certainly WILL) but you're going to jail. The laws are written by lawyers, to cover a vast range. Read the code section I linked; it'll take you quite a while to read and understand who can carry what, where, when, and how to obtain a permit. So cops HAVE to interpret and apply the law and subsequent court decisions.
[/QUOTE]
Finally, we agree that there is a legal problem or, "gap" as you put it. The question is, is there anything that can or should be done to fix it?[/quote]

What's the legislative process in your area? Can a citizen propose legislation directly, or do you need to run for office, gather support, and propose amending the existent laws?

Personally... I'm not familiar with every state's concealed weapon process or laws. But most of them seem to work reasonably well; people caught with weapons that shouldn't have them get arrested. Few people with weapons who should have them do.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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As frustrating as it may be at times regarding the laws and legal process within our country. We can as jks9199 mentioned make changes via legislation. I can remember how hard it used to be to get a CCW in Michigan. (now a CPL) Now if you take some training you can get one relatively quickly. Legislation changed this dramatically. In order to carry other tools you will need to contact your politicians and see if they are willing to support the cause. I am also aware at how that is a very uphill process concerning certain tools.
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As jks9199 points out, he as an LEO has to interpret the law. Fortunately in this country we have actually some fantastic LEO's, Prosecutors and Judges doing that day in and day out. That is a very, very hard thank less job and they need to make judgement calls every day that can be very difficult. I am in strong support of them receiving the best possible training that they can get to help with those decisions.
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Not just legal training but also common sence training and of course personal protection skills.

My advice is to study your local and State laws and be familiar with them so that you understand what you can and cannot carry and what will be considered legal or illegal.
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Judgement is required not just of law enforcement but also every day citizens who wish to protect themselves.
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Cryozombie

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The same item, in a different context, carries a different meaning. Some items, like brass knuckles, have no legal use, and thus are easy to define as illegal.

But as "Arms" they could legitimately be used for self defense. So, no, they don't have a function OTHER than as a weapon... but lets face it, the right to keep and bear arms wasnt created to cover arms that could be used as tools. It was created to provide the PEOPLE the right to keep and bear arms because the state had a military.
 

jks9199

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But as "Arms" they could legitimately be used for self defense. So, no, they don't have a function OTHER than as a weapon... but lets face it, the right to keep and bear arms wasnt created to cover arms that could be used as tools. It was created to provide the PEOPLE the right to keep and bear arms because the state had a military.
So, would you support my right to carry a suitcase nuke as a person defense weapon? Or might the consequence of my defending myself with it be just a wee bit undesirable...

The bottom line is simple; the courts have held that there is not an absolute and unregulated right to bear arms. Our various legislators have chosen to prohibit carrying certain items, sometimes justifiably, sometimes inanely. In many cases, the prohibition is not on simply carrying or possessing them -- it's carrying or possessing them concealed from common observation. And... if you are carrying them in a hidden manner... if you're not up to no good, you probably won't ever have a reason to explain them to a cop. It's not like cops are in the habit of simply walking up to folks and searching them for concealed weapons for the fun of it...
 
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geezer

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As jks9199 points out, he as an LEO has to interpret the law. Fortunately in this country we have actually some fantastic LEO's, Prosecutors and Judges doing that day in and day out. That is a very, very hard thank less job and they need to make judgement calls every day that can be very difficult.

Judgement is required not just of law enforcement but also every day citizens who wish to protect themselves.
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Well said. LEOs have a tough job and typically show more common sense in enforcing the legal code than the politicians who write it! My point is simply that inconsitency breeds contempt for the law, and I don't see a clear and consistent set of rules in this area. If carrying weapons for self defense is OK, then as CryoZombie pointed out, why are brass knuckles any more offensive than a nine millimeter auto? It's not a matter of public danger and lethality like the "suitcase nuke" reference, but more about context and cultural or class (criminal) associations. I would just like to see martial arts weapons and the martial arts in general to be accorded a better class of "associations" if you will. It's too much for an individual "with a life" to want to undertake on his or her own. I guess we'd have to all join a martial arts version of something like the NRA to get something accomplished. And, even as a group endeavor it would take more time, money and effort than I've got to spend...so what the hey. Let 'em outlaw everything. I suppose I can adjust.
 

Bob Hubbard

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I'm against arming bears. They don't have thumbs. ;)

ok, seriously, I find the laws to be inconsistant and more often than not based on knee jerk passage by someone looking to get a few votes, rather than a real understanding of the particulars in play. In any event, a criminal doesn't care what the laws say, and actually encourage restrictive laws as it ensures they are the ones most likely to be the heaviest armed.
 

jks9199

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Well said. LEOs have a tough job and typically show more common sense in enforcing the legal code than the politicians who write it! My point is simply that inconsitency breeds contempt for the law, and I don't see a clear and consistent set of rules in this area. If carrying weapons for self defense is OK, then as CryoZombie pointed out, why are brass knuckles any more offensive than a nine millimeter auto? It's not a matter of public danger and lethality like the "suitcase nuke" reference, but more about context and cultural or class (criminal) associations. I would just like to see martial arts weapons and the martial arts in general to be accorded a better class of "associations" if you will. It's too much for an individual "with a life" to want to undertake on his or her own. I guess we'd have to all join a martial arts version of something like the NRA to get something accomplished. And, even as a group endeavor it would take more time, money and effort than I've got to spend...so what the hey. Let 'em outlaw everything. I suppose I can adjust.
Absent a surprise ruling from the US Supreme Court, you're not going to find consistency in concealed weapons laws. Even the recent Heller ruling allows plenty of room for regulation and control of concealed firearms; it wasn't a wide-ranging endorsement of any right to bear arms.

The laws should take into account legitimate reasons for carrying various items, but, outside of Louisiana, the US operates on the common law principles, which means that the laws don't try to describe and handle every situation, but leave it up to the courts (ultimately) and the police (practically) to interpret the laws. The Virginia code I've linked previously, for example, allows for transporting otherwise illegal items to ranges or weapons collection activities. I'd interpret that as covering transport to a martial arts class, and I'd feel comfortable that the courts and prosecutors would agree.
 

Cryozombie

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So, would you support my right to carry a suitcase nuke as a person defense weapon? Or might the consequence of my defending myself with it be just a wee bit undesirable...

Depends... do you own that Personal Nuke to protect yourself against 2money tha Gangsta, or against El Presidente Bill McTakeyourrights?

The bottom line is simple; the courts have held that there is not an absolute and unregulated right to bear arms. Our various legislators have chosen to prohibit carrying certain items, sometimes justifiably, sometimes inanely. In many cases, the prohibition is not on simply carrying or possessing them -- it's carrying or possessing them concealed from common observation. And... if you are carrying them in a hidden manner... if you're not up to no good, you probably won't ever have a reason to explain them to a cop. It's not like cops are in the habit of simply walking up to folks and searching them for concealed weapons for the fun of it...

The Bottom line may appear simple, but I don't believe it is. Lobbyists, the aforementioned Knee Jerk reactions to ******** news media etc... all go twords eroding what should be a constituonlally protected right that's taken away by power mad *******s (like Chicago's Mayor Daley) or Fearmongers... Hell... Our Buddy Obama's VP running mate outlawed a SINGLE SHOT BIRD HUNTING SHOTGUN based on the fact he thought it appeared frightening therefore MUST be an assault weapon. Thank god that idiotic ban got turned over.
 

jks9199

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Depends... do you own that Personal Nuke to protect yourself against 2money tha Gangsta, or against El Presidente Bill McTakeyourrights?



The Bottom line may appear simple, but I don't believe it is. Lobbyists, the aforementioned Knee Jerk reactions to ******** news media etc... all go twords eroding what should be a constituonlally protected right that's taken away by power mad *******s (like Chicago's Mayor Daley) or Fearmongers... Hell... Our Buddy Obama's VP running mate outlawed a SINGLE SHOT BIRD HUNTING SHOTGUN based on the fact he thought it appeared frightening therefore MUST be an assault weapon. Thank god that idiotic ban got turned over.
It's very easy to say "this law doesn't make sense." After all, we're good people, and we only want to carry said stick, knife, gun, nuke, or pocket-sized SEAL team to deal with the folks who aren't good people. Or to blame legislators for writing the laws, cops for enforcing them, and judges for convicting under the law. I'm the first to admit that some of the things prohibited or the distinctions drawn are inane. But, let's review how some of these things came to be prohibited.

I'm going to use machetes as a pretty clear example. The machete is the favored weapon of MS13 and 18th Street, especially, among Latino gangs. We've got a wee bit of a problem with these folks in my area... Cops were stopping bangers, and they were carrying machetes down their pant legs. The cops would charge the bangers, under 18.2-308 (linked above). And, in some cases, defense attorneys would get the banger off by arguing that a machete is not a "dirk, bowie, razor..." I have seen defense attorneys literally pull a dictionary out and argue based on the definition... Do we have a problem? Absolutely. How was it solved? The law was amended to specifically include machetes, and a specific offense of "brandishing a machete" was added.

But to move back to your point... It seems that perhaps the problem isn't the legislator wanting to ban silly things. Perhaps it's a matter of education. Do you think that if several martial arts organizations contacted the legislators, a clear exemption for martial arts training might be written into the law? Do you think that if someone reached out to the law makers and explained some of these weapons and tools, they might modify the law in response?
 

Brian R. VanCise

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It's very easy to say "this law doesn't make sense." After all, we're good people, and we only want to carry said stick, knife, gun, nuke, or pocket-sized SEAL team to deal with the folks who aren't good people. Or to blame legislators for writing the laws, cops for enforcing them, and judges for convicting under the law. I'm the first to admit that some of the things prohibited or the distinctions drawn are inane. But, let's review how some of these things came to be prohibited.

I'm going to use machetes as a pretty clear example. The machete is the favored weapon of MS13 and 18th Street, especially, among Latino gangs. We've got a wee bit of a problem with these folks in my area... Cops were stopping bangers, and they were carrying machetes down their pant legs. The cops would charge the bangers, under 18.2-308 (linked above). And, in some cases, defense attorneys would get the banger off by arguing that a machete is not a "dirk, bowie, razor..." I have seen defense attorneys literally pull a dictionary out and argue based on the definition... Do we have a problem? Absolutely. How was it solved? The law was amended to specifically include machetes, and a specific offense of "brandishing a machete" was added.

But to move back to your point... It seems that perhaps the problem isn't the legislator wanting to ban silly things. Perhaps it's a matter of education. Do you think that if several martial arts organizations contacted the legislators, a clear exemption for martial arts training might be written into the law? Do you think that if someone reached out to the law makers and explained some of these weapons and tools, they might modify the law in response?

I think Jsk9199 makes a valid point here in that we can affect how these laws are written and then enforced. We just have to be active and attempt to intercede when we see something that would affect our rights.
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Cryozombie

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But to move back to your point... It seems that perhaps the problem isn't the legislator wanting to ban silly things. Perhaps it's a matter of education. Do you think that if several martial arts organizations contacted the legislators, a clear exemption for martial arts training might be written into the law? Do you think that if someone reached out to the law makers and explained some of these weapons and tools, they might modify the law in response?

Absolutely... if we can get them to sit down and listen to our points, I think it could make a difference...
 

KenpoTex

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So, would you support my right to carry a suitcase nuke as a person defense weapon? Or might the consequence of my defending myself with it be just a wee bit undesirable...

Normally I agree with most of what you post, but I see the above statement (and similar statements that get "trotted out" whenever this topic comes up) as a "straw-man" argument that isn't really relevant to the discussion.

There is a huge difference between brass-knuckles, nunchaku, machetes (or for that matter, a full auto AK) and a "suitcase nuke" or a Stinger missile. I don't see anyone saying people should be able to own WDMs, but I see no reason people should not be able to own any common personal weapon (martial-arts weapons, or any knife, impact device, or firearm).

It's the way it's used that is the problem, not the weapon itself.
 
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