2A Covers Police Batons, Dirk Knives Rules Connecticut Supreme Court

I’m purloining this update from the Volokh Conspiracy, which is a great source for legal commentary on a bunch of different topics, from Constitutional law to politics and everything in between.  In essence, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled this week that dirk knives and police batons are covered under one’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Here’s a quote from the ruling in the case State v. DeCiccio, courtesy of Volokh:

Japanese WW2 Naval Dirk (Photo: Wiki)

Japanese WW2 Naval Dirk (Photo: Wiki)

This widespread acceptance of batons within the law enforcement community also supports the conclusion that they are not so dangerous or unusual as to fall outside the purview of the second amendment. To this end, the fact that police batons are inherently less lethal, and therefore less dangerous and less intrinsically harmful, than handguns, which clearly constitute “arms” within the meaning of the second amendment, provides further reason to conclude that they are entitled to constitutional protection. Cf. People v. Yanna, supra, 297 Mich. App. 145 (“[T]he prosecution also argues that Tasers and stun guns are so dangerous that they are not protected by the [s]econd [a]mendment. However, it is difficult to see how this is so since Heller concluded that handguns are not sufficiently dangerous to be banned. Tasers and stun guns, while plainly dangerous, are substantially less dangerous than handguns. Therefore, [T]asers and stun guns do not constitute dangerous weapons for purposes of [s]econd [a]mendment inquiries.”); D. Kopel et al., supra, 47 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 184 (“[K]nives are far less dangerous than guns. Any public safety justification for knife regulation is necessarily less persuasive than the public safety justification for firearms regulation.”).

Indeed, expandable batons are intermediate force devices that, when used as intended, are unlikely to cause death or permanent bodily injury. For these reasons, we are persuaded that the police baton that the defendant had in his vehicle is the kind of weapon traditionally used by the state for public safety purposes and is neither so dangerous nor so unusual as to fall outside the purview of the second amendment’s right to keep and bear arms.

The court also addressed how bans on the transportation of these arms contravenes the 2A (Paragraph breaks added by Volokh):

[T]he prohibition against transporting a dirk knife and a police baton to a new home constitutes a significant restriction on the right to possess those weapons in that new home. Indeed, aside from an outright ban on possessing those weapons, it is difficult to conceive of a greater abridgement of that right than a restriction that bars the use of a vehicle to transport either of those weapons from one home to another.

Moreover, under § 29-38, it is unlawful for an ordinary citizen, like the defendant, to transport those weapons from the place of purchase to the purchaser’s home. As a consequence, the statute’s complete proscription against using a vehicle to transport the two protected weapons deprives their owner of any realistic opportunity either to bring them home after they have been purchased or to move them from one home to another. In fact, at oral argument before this court, the state acknowledged that, in light of that statutory prohibition, there may be no lawful means of doing either….

In light of the nature and extent of the restrictions at issue in the present case, we agree with the state that intermediate scrutiny represents the applicable level of constitutional review. “[A]lthough addressing varied and divergent laws, courts throughout the country have nearly universally applied some form of intermediate scrutiny in the [s]econd [a]mendment context.” … Nevertheless, to establish the requisite substantial relationship between the purpose to be served by the statutory provision and the means employed to achieve that end [under intermediate scrutiny], the explanation that the state proffers in defense of the provision must be “exceedingly persuasive.” …

Post-Heller case law supports the commonsense conclusion that the core right to possess a protected weapon in the home for self-defense necessarily entails the right, subject to reasonable regulation, to engage in activities necessary to enable possession in the home. Thus, the safe transportation of weapons protected by the second amendment is an essential corollary of the right to possess them in the home for self-defense when such transportation is necessary to effectuate that right. Conversely, in rejecting second amendment challenges to measures prohibiting the possession of handguns outside the home, courts have deemed it significant that those regulatory schemes contained provisions including, in addition to the right to possess handguns in the home, limited exceptions permitting the transportation of handguns between homes, or between home and dealer or repairer.

We conclude that the state has not provided sufficient reason for extending the ban on transporting dirk knives and police batons to a scenario, like the present one, in which the owner of those weapons uses his vehicle to move them from a former residence to a new one.

What are your thoughts about the court’s ruling?  Did the court get it right?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • gary February 20, 2017, 10:26 am

    what happens when you move and your kitchen knives are in you car? Interesting question as some are is long as a Dirk

  • Scott January 5, 2015, 8:05 pm

    I unfortunately live in this commi state of Connecticut. Can’t believe that Massachusettes voted in a new Republican Governor yet we could not here. Still working on my wife to let us move to Maine. I like most of the true Americans that reside in this crap hole state never registered our scary black rifles. What they don’t know about, they can’t take. I’m surprised that after the Boston bombing, they didn’t pass laws for us to register our crock pots and pressure cookers to keep our children safe.

  • Russ January 5, 2015, 6:50 pm

    “What are my thoughts on this?” you ask.
    Just another one of S.H. BLANNELBERRY’s post to start an argument for the anti-gun dunces to drool over.
    Starting to see a pattern here.

  • DaveGinOly January 5, 2015, 4:23 pm

    We’ve been told for decades by anti-gun forces that the 2nd Amendment only applies to the weapons that were available at the time of its ratification. If we presume for the moment that the claim is true, then it should be apparent that edged and impact weapons of all types should be protected “arms,” because there are none we have today that are substantially different from or more deadly than those that existed in the late 1700s.

    • Rich K. February 3, 2017, 9:08 am

      Of course, if their “logic” was to be applied fairly, the First Amendment would not cover television, radio, modern printing presses, photography, or the internet. But then, if those things were restricted “fairly” (remember, one of a modern liberal’s biggest whines is about how “unfair” things are…even if they are hypocrites about it!), then liberals would have a more difficult time trumpeting their stupidity to a wider audience…

  • DaveGinOly January 5, 2015, 4:19 pm

    Yes, no consideration for “spectrum of force” response by armed citizens. It’s all or nothing, and then you’d better be absolutely correct when you use lethal force, because the same people who will prosecute you for using a baton to defend yourself will prosecute you for elevating your response directly to gun fire when the hind sight of an after-the-fact review determines that lethal force wasn’t legally permitted (even if it seemed to be the best option at the time).

    • steve November 1, 2015, 5:31 pm

      Well, one is either justified in using lethal force or they’re not. Knives, batons, brass knuckles, bats, etc. are all considered lethal weapons, and all require the same justification for use. Legally, using a dirk knife or baton is the same as using a gun, and requires the same level of threat against your person/justification, for use.

  • Will Drider January 5, 2015, 4:17 pm

    The Court nailed it! AND… left the door open for other “Items” to be included under 2A protections.
    As far as the “legalese” it is the specifics that force accountability. As an example the BATFE has a set of Laws and Codes to follow and enforce. They have also taken great latitude beyond these and imposed restrictions not in the laws or Codes but cross referencing to criminal penalities of “THEIR” restrictions. Example: BATFE Letter in 2006 on forward verticle grips on a handgun. Basically says you get jailed and fined if you do it without a NFA Stamp. There have been hundreds of changes to the Laws and Codes since 2006 BUT the vertical grip on a handgun “restriction” has never been made into a Law or added to the Codes. Why? So BATFE will not have to comply with the Laws and Codes which do not support their “restriction”. BATFE dropped the charge on a case on this issue as the Magistrate ruled against them. The BATFE SAYS THEY DON’T RECOGINISE THE MAGISTRATES WRITTEN OPINION! Look it up.
    This is why we need these Court decissions.

  • ElderGunner January 5, 2015, 10:54 am

    So it’s legal for me to carry a concealed gun with a CHL and use deadly force to defend myself, but if I wanted to opt for a less than lethal response with a baton, that’s illegal? I live in Texas where it is illegal to carry and/or use a baton to defend yourself outside your home. You have to wonder about the logic of laws that allow you to use deadly force to defend yourself, but make it illegal to use a baton for a less than lethal response.

    • Danny July 17, 2016, 12:36 am

      So its ok to use lethal Force to defend yourself if needed,however if you choose to use less than lethal Force you’re breaking the law?
      Perfect logic coming from the courts!

    • WilliamDahl August 18, 2017, 5:06 pm

      But remember, after September 1st, here in Texas, we will be able to legally carry any length of edged weapons, even broadswords. I really don’t expect to see many people carrying them though. 🙂

  • Rangemaster January 5, 2015, 9:58 am

    The court got it right, and correctly applied the provisions of recent case law on the Second Amendment to knives and impact weapons, but then walked back and limited the application of the decision in the conclusion that it only applied when “the owner of those weapons uses his vehicle to move them from a former residence to a new one”. Maybe this kind of thinking will migrate to California.

    • Mike January 5, 2015, 11:39 am

      What we need in Connecticut are more conservatives to move INTO the state to protect our 2A rights …not people saying we should move out! We came very close to ousting Gov. M…but we need help…just think if we could change the political makeup of every state?? We can take back the country…one state at a time….thank you very much in advance…

      • steve November 1, 2015, 5:26 pm

        Thank you! A a native of connecticut my whole life, I have been saying the same thing for years. The more pro-gun people that move out of CT, the easier it will be to pass anti-gun laws here. And what people don’t think about, is that as soon as one state passes a law, it establishes a precedent, and a feeling of normalcy/alters the status quo, such that it is much easier to get those anti gun laws passed in YOUR state, or even on a national level(e.g. “assault weapon” bans, universal background checks, standard capacity magazine bans, etc.)

  • Gregory Johnson January 5, 2015, 9:47 am

    get the hell out of this liberal ass state

  • Sigmandkh January 5, 2015, 8:45 am

    Lawyers love their fees. How much do you think they would charge to interpret their legalease?
    The key word here is INTERPRETATION. As a born and bred former (67 yrs), resident, of Connecticut, the state government is overwhelmingly filled with Liberals who think they know more than anyone else and will interpret everything to be in their favor. Judges are appointed by a legislature made up of 75% or more part time lawyers/politicians. How do you think they are going to interpret and appoint? It’s one party rule there. There are no rights to do anything. Beware of everything left to Connecticut to interpret.

    • WilliamDahl August 18, 2017, 5:08 pm

      And if you ask multiple lawyers the same question, you’ll get multiple different answers.

  • EBB January 5, 2015, 7:55 am

    I don’t think Draino is complaining about being precise. I think he’s asking that this be put in wording that normal folks can easily understand. For example: “Nevertheless, to establish the requisite substantial relationship between the purpose to be served by the statutory provision and the means employed to achieve that end [under intermediate scrutiny], the explanation that the state proffers in defense of the provision must be “exceedingly persuasive.” Couldn’t that be made easier to understand?

  • Joseph Gassner December 18, 2014, 5:21 pm

    HOLY CRAP? What are you complaining about? The use of your so called ” lawyer speak ” makes the law precise and definable. LOOK, if they didn’t specify the exact rules and laws then the police themselves would use it against you out in the street to arrest you for breaking general undefinable rules. Something which I have learned the police love to do. By being precise, you are able to obey and stick to the law, and both sides of the law have no grey areas to abuse.

    • Terrible January 5, 2015, 7:53 am

      I’m fairly certain that you can be concise without being confusing, legalease is the term though…

  • Draino December 17, 2014, 2:48 pm

    HOLY CRAP!! Along with legislation to outlaw any bill that is over 100 pages or so, we should move to outlaw “lawyer” speak. Speak PLAIN English will ya!? How crazy is that stuff?

    • Literate January 5, 2015, 4:31 am

      That was plain English.

      • Lee January 5, 2015, 10:38 am

        Why would anyone Live in that fucked up state?

        • Ken April 14, 2017, 7:12 am

          To try to unfuck up this State

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