New Jersey Supreme Court Okays Machetes for Self-Defense Under 2A

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A bolo machete from Cold Steel. (Photo: Michael E. Cumpston)

The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled this week in favor of a man who, fearing for his life, answered his front door carrying a machete, holding that in such an instance an individual may lawfully possess and hold a weapon for self-defense.

On March 24, 2012, Arturs Daleckis and his wife grew agitated at the noise emanating from the apartment directly above their own, occupied by Crisoforo Montalvo and his wife. Daleckis pounded on his ceiling, and Montalvo appeared at Daleckis’s front door shortly thereafter. Montalvo broke a table belonging to Daleckis, at which point Montalvo retreated back into his apartment.

Daleckis walked upstairs and, according to Montalvo and his wife, began kicking and slamming their front door. Fearing for his life and that of his wife and unborn child, Montalvo retrieved a machete he used for roofing and answered the door.

Daleckis claimed that Montalvo pointed the machete at him, and Montalvo testified that he kept it at his side. In any case, while Montalvo convinced Daleckis to leave his apartment without inflicting injury, he was still charged with “possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose” and “unlawful possession of a weapon.”

Montalvo was acquitted of the first charge but convicted of the second. The jury reached this verdict, in part, because the judge included a self-defense instruction for the unlawful-purpose charge but didn’t give it for the unlawful-possession charge. In other words, the judge’s instructions to the jury failed to acknowledge Montalvo’s Second Amendment right to possess a weapon in his home for self-defense.

The New Jersey Supreme Court condemned the judge’s faulty instructions and upheld Second Amendment rights on two fronts. First, the court explicitly rejected the “spontaneity” requirement, which permits arming oneself in the home only in the case of an imminent attack. Such a requirement allows firearms and other weapons to be kept in the home, but not held or used in a threatening manner unless the resident is actually under attack.

The court ruled against the “spontaneity” requirement, stating, “The right to possess a weapon in one’s own home for self-defense would be of little effect if one were required to keep the weapon out-of-hand, picking it up only ‘spontaneously.’ Such a rule would negate the purpose of possessing a weapon for defense of the home…”

Second, the New Jersey Supreme Court acknowledged the little-discussed 2A protection of knives and other sharp instruments.

According to the court, “The Second Amendment ‘guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,’ D.C. v. Heller (2008).” It extends to “all instruments that constitute bearable arms,” “including machetes, in the home for self-defense purposes.”

As to whether or not Montalvo was justified in threatening Daleckis with a machete, the court stated that an individual must have “lawful justification” for such a threat. In this instance, Montalvo’s actions would be justified if he had “a sincere or reasonable belief that the show of such force was necessary to protect himself or his wife from an imminent attack.”

{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Glenn61 June 18, 2017, 8:08 am

    hell,,, just go on BudK or any number of cutlery sites and get yourself a quality Katana sword. SWOOSH…!

  • Glenn61 June 18, 2017, 8:07 am

    I feel like the best investment a home owner can make is a video monitor/recorder with audio in a front porch camera.
    This would put to rest any allegations of threats by a home owner on defense that criminals like to claim.
    A clear video with audio will positively determine just who is the aggressor when someone if at your door…. The trespasser of the resident.
    Also, fencing in your property, if the bi-laws where you live don’t prohibit it, is an excellent deterrent to opportunist casually walking across your yard looking for an easy score. And with gates you can lock at night.

  • Glenn61 June 18, 2017, 7:44 am

    If you want to skirt the stupid laws that get you arrested for having sharpened objects or a gun in your house. Get a Wax Wood Staff, they come in 4 & 6 ft. and can break bones, but you gotta practice with them.

    If you’re not strong or quick enough for martial arts style defense, then just go on Amazon or any retail web-site and get a Louisville Slugger ash wood base ball bat and park it next to the front door in the corner. It doesn’t take practice to step back and swing.

    Another really effective home self defense is to look in the camping sections on Midway or Cabelas and buy yourself some
    BEAR ATTACK SPRAY,, this sh1t is almost 4 X stronger than what cops and postal workers carry. Sprays out in a 30 ft cone.
    It will make a Grizzly Bear do a U-turn. Just imagine how effective it would be on some thug trying to kick in your door…!

    And if you can’t purchase or afford a real firearm like a 9mm or 38 spec, then consider a CO2 pellet gun for “on home” defense. Legal to fire within city limits, a Crosman Vigilante can hold 10 .177 pellets that will severely injure an attacker penetrating him, and it cost just $50, Google it, it’s also on Amazon.
    I don’t care who you are, if you’re trying to force your way into my house and I start popping lead pellets at you with a fresh CO2, you’re going to retreat…!

  • Glenn61 June 18, 2017, 7:29 am

    SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND…!

  • Jerry Sanders June 16, 2017, 9:34 pm

    I feel sorry for the parents of the judge, in this case.
    THEY had to put their RETARD son thru college and law school.
    SORRY, if you don’t understand the clearly stated meaning of
    the 2A, YOU ARE A RETARD, prepare yourself to be treated like
    one, twinkie.

  • Goose June 16, 2017, 7:29 pm

    I have kept a machete between my mattres forever It is very quite when you are sliding it out, I have been an advocit of this form of home defence, I say to those that think this is goolish, you have to get close and personal. and if that dont work I have a Tomahawk !

  • COMMO9N SENSE June 16, 2017, 4:28 pm

    This is guns America site & I fail to see why someone like ak-47 post is allowed & common sense is not

  • bill June 16, 2017, 4:02 pm

    everyone has gotten off the topic thanks to wiscos complaint. the real problem in that mantalvo was creating a disturbance which resulted in daleckis getting agitated and threatening mantalvo. had mantalvo been quieter the incident would not have escalated. every where people have no respect for others with loud noisy actions and refusing to quiet down.

    • loupgarous June 19, 2017, 12:04 am

      Nope. Mr. Daleckis and his wife could have and should have contacted the management of their apartment and local law enforcement about the noises Mr. Montalvo and his wife were making. Daleckis and Montalvo instead engaged in an escalating chain of disorderly conduct. Montalvo ought to have been charged with illegally damaging Daleckis’ table, and each man ought to have at least been warned about the noise-making each did, if not charged under noise and/or disorderly conduct statutes.

      There is no right to take the law into your own hands short of acting in the reasonable fear you or someone else is about to be killed or grievously harmed. Apartment noise doesn’t fall into that category of impending grievous bodily harm or death.

  • common sense June 16, 2017, 3:53 pm

    lib (def) liberal. tard (def) Someone who is stupid, but in annoying way, in fact, if they were actually mentally retarded it would be a dramatic improvement. Def were taken from the internet. Read what is said not what you feel affronts your situation.

  • Wiscogunner June 16, 2017, 9:40 am

    Please refrain from using the word “tard” as in your use of Lib-tard in the tease line at the top of the page. Using the word, “Retard” and forms of it is offensive to those of us with a child who has cognitive deficits.

    I enjoy your articles pertaining to the promotion and preservation of our 2A rights.

    • Alex Freimuth June 16, 2017, 9:51 am

      I have to agree with Wisco. You don’t win arguments by throwing slurs around. Let the tweeters and tubers lower themselves with that language, no one takes them seriously anyway. When you write for a respected source the onus is on you to take the high road.

      • Bill Mayberry June 16, 2017, 1:11 pm

        Alex, I also agree wholeheartedly. There is much to be said about taking the moral high ground, being respectful, and not lowering oneself to name-calling (and profanity). A true master of the Art of Verbal Warfare can utilize their skills with great success and never cross the threshold of “schoolyard banter.”

    • nunya June 16, 2017, 10:08 am

      Unless the author specifically called YOUR kid retarded then YOU have no grounds to be offended. Just because you don’t like being reminded that life isn’t fair doesn’t mean that everyone else on the planet has to now walk on eggshells. You don’t have to like it, but you sure as hell don’t have the right to dictate how someone speaks or acts. grow a pair

      • Matthew Alderson June 16, 2017, 10:59 am

        I decide when I am offended, not you. What does grow a pair mean? Reference to mental or physical handicap as an insult is offensive, whatever the context.

      • WiscoGunner June 16, 2017, 11:39 am

        nunya,
        With your line of thinking, then it is never offensive to use the word, “Nigger” unless it is being directly at you personally. Another example is the use of God’s name in vain. It offends me when I hear regardless of whether it is in a movie, on the street or at the range. And as for growing a pair, that makes no sense. Manliness has nothing to do with speaking like a sailor or turning a deaf ear to people who think using expletives ever other word somehow makes them tough. With age comes wisdom, hopefully, and you learn that the person in control of their speech and behavior in general is usually the wiser and more prepared than the one who just reacts and lets his verbal and physical responses happen without thought…a perfect example would be the above comment by Trevor Phillips. Obviously, he doesn’t have a lot of thought processes going on. He just goes off. That is the problem with our society right now–lots of hotheads who don’t know how to communicate and work through issues without resorting to threats or verbal assaults.
        Finally, being offended by something doesn’t mean it wrecks my day. It just offends me and makes me think less of the person. That is why, I didn’t over-react, I just asked the author to refrain from using the term. It isn’t just me. You can buy t-shirts and bumper stickers that say, “Don’t Use the “R” Word”. I do have the right to ask someone not to use a certain offensive word. They have the right not to listen. This is America. It is just a better America when people have some sensibility/morality/manners.

    • Jerry Kowalski June 16, 2017, 10:33 am

      Waaaaa, names are hurting me – grow up snowflake – theyare tards, RETARDS –

      • WiscoGunner June 16, 2017, 11:45 am

        Jerry, you make yourself the fool for all the World to see.

    • Trevor_Phillips June 16, 2017, 10:34 am

      Wah

    • AK47 June 16, 2017, 1:13 pm

      To hell with your retarded kids, no one cares and no one is obliged to care. If you spent half as much time taking care of your retard than crusading on the internet, maybe they would be less retarded.

    • COMMO9N SENSE June 16, 2017, 4:35 pm

      The article did not say retarted

    • loupgarous June 18, 2017, 11:52 pm

      I agree. It’s pretty low to use the name of a medical condition affecting innocent people as a slur.

      The thoughtlessness which lead to Mr. Montalvo’s erroneous conviction (on the part of the prosecutor, the original judge and the jury) wasn’t caused by a medical condition linked to mental retardation. It was caused by inexcusable stupidity and a culture of left-wing fascism.

      Meanwhile, in Great Britain, emergency department physicians are agitating for controls over steak knives. I wish I were making this up. Apparently, they think the right to cut meat needs to be limited to Her Majesty and the British government.

  • Graysailor June 16, 2017, 9:25 am

    To think that New Jersey actually provided troops in the Revolutionary War. How far they’ve fallen. Maybe they are beginning to rethink things.

  • Dan C June 16, 2017, 8:59 am

    a requirement allows firearms and other weapons to be kept in the home, but not held or used in a threatening manner unless the resident is actually under attack.

    TO meet this requirement, it is already too late in a lot of case. But then, they are stupid and don’t have a clue.

  • Mike June 16, 2017, 8:40 am

    Yay, a court that actually read the 2A. “Arms” means “arms”.

  • Mike D June 16, 2017, 7:57 am

    N.J. sucks, over regulated, over taxed and run by fascist regime. Its loosing blue collar tax base and now over run with minimum pay jobs.

    • Z June 16, 2017, 11:30 am

      You really need to look up the definition of Facism.

  • Jim June 16, 2017, 7:56 am

    They got the judgement correct however I see a future problem resulting from this argument.
    The 2nd amendment extends to “all instruments that constitute BEARABLE arms”. How long will it take for someone to make the argument that guns are not necessarily the only BEARABLE arms and a knife is sufficient for your self defense therefore you have no need for a gun.

    • Z June 16, 2017, 11:34 am

      I think you made your own point. “All instruments that constitute bearable arms..” not “only the arms we deem necessary to provide the minimum level of deterance.”

  • XSommer June 16, 2017, 6:22 am

    When someone is beating on your door in an aggressive manner; and they have not identified themselves as police, of course you have a right to answer the door brandishing a weapon to visually inform the person who is bringing aggression at you that you have the means to defend yourself if attacked. If he had gone unbidden to his neighbors door while brandishing a weapon then the matter would have been very different.

    The only exception I can think of is if Mr Montalvo was in the country illegally then he (not being a US citizen) would have zero constitutional rights.

    • Fred Miller June 16, 2017, 10:07 am

      If someone is beating on your door in an AGGRESSIVE manner, why on God’s green earth would you OPEN THE DOOR?? Do they have a soundproof door? You can’t ask someone why they’re beating on your door without opening it?? They apparently do things very differently in NJ than we do here in Texas. Come beat on MY door aggressively and you’ll meet some of Amarillo’s finest, and you’ll probably get a good look at my every-day-carry.

    • DF June 16, 2017, 1:27 pm

      Simply not true

    • james June 16, 2017, 8:07 pm

      Non-citizens, including those in the USA illegally, do have Constitutional rights. (They don’t have voting rights, but the Constitution does give illegal immigrants “due process” rights.) Once they are in US territory, and therefore under US jurisdiction, they are subject to the laws of the US including both penalties and Constitutional rights. (This is a little off the topic of the article, but I thought you might appreciate having this cleared up.)

  • Joe June 16, 2017, 5:46 am

    Lord help the poor fellow if he had pointed the machete at the guy and hollered BANG BANG at the same time.

  • Will Drider June 13, 2017, 10:50 pm

    NJSC Actually gets it right tis time! Too bad their history of Rulings for firearm issues are never given the same acknowledgement to HELLER Case Law.

    • Abdullah Mikail June 16, 2017, 7:47 am

      The Universe has finally begun to align to the correct bearings.

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