Knives and the Second Amendment
David B. Kopel
Independence Institute; Denver University - Sturm College of Law
Clayton E. Cramer
College of Western Idaho
Hamline University - School of Law
November 21, 2013
University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, vol. 47, pages 167-215 (Fall 2013)
This Article is the first scholarly analysis of knives and the Second Amendment. Under the Supreme Court’s standard in District of Columbia v. Heller, knives are Second Amendment “arms” because they are “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes,” including self-defense.
There is no knife that is more dangerous than a modern handgun; to the contrary, knives are much less dangerous. Therefore, restrictions on carrying handguns set the upper limit for restrictions on carrying knives.
Prohibitions on carrying knives in general, or of particular knives, are unconstitutional. For example, bans of knives that open in a convenient way (e.g., switchblades, gravity knives, and butterfly knives) are unconstitutional. Likewise unconstitutional are bans on folding knives that, after being opened, have a safety lock to prevent inadvertent closure.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 49
Keywords: Knives, Second Amendment, Switchblades
JEL Classification: K14, K42
Date posted: March 24, 2013 ; Last revised: November 22, 2013
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