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Knives and the Second Amendment

49 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2013 Last revised: 22 Nov 2013

David B. Kopel

Independence Institute; Denver University - Sturm College of Law

Clayton E. Cramer

College of Western Idaho

Joseph Edward Olson

Hamline University - School of Law

Date Written: November 21, 2013

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Knives, Second Amendment, Switchblades

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Kopel, David B. and Cramer, Clayton E. and Olson, Joseph Edward, Knives and the Second Amendment (November 21, 2013). University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, vol. 47, pages 167-215 (Fall 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2238223

David B. Kopel (Contact Author)

Independence Institute ( email )

727 East 16th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
United States
303-279-6536 (Phone)
303-279-4176 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.davekopel.org

Denver University - Sturm College of Law

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.davekopel.org

Clayton E. Cramer

College of Western Idaho ( email )

5500 East Opportunity Drive
Nampa, ID 83687
United States

Joseph Edward Olson

Hamline University - School of Law ( email )

1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104-1237
United States

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