Second Amendment

Free the Nunchucks! Arizona May Loosen Its Sillier Weapons Restrictions.

Sticks are fine, but sticks tied together can get you in a world of trouble


Lars Plougmann / Foter / CC BY-SA

When my son started taking weapons class at his Tae Kwon Do dojang, one of the other parents warned me to be careful with his nunchucks. "I know it's weird, but they're basically illegal to transport," she told me. I often, perfectly legally, carry a pistol with me, so I had to look that up. Arizona just didn't strike me as the kind of state that wants to pry tethered sticks from my son's cold, dead fingers while giving me thumbs-up for my .45 and my switchblade knife.

Chalk one up for martial arts mom; she was right! Nunchucks are strictly regulated in Arizona. But that may be about to change, for sound suppressors and sawed-off shotguns, as well as nunchucks.

Boys raised in the 1970s weren't the only ones impressed by Bruce Lee and Kung Fu movies. Lots of lawmakers sucked up images of cinematic combat, too. But politicians being generally less able to distinguish fantasy from reality than your typical teenager, this has sometimes resulted in strict laws regulating the whirling sticks of death.

In Arizona, among the definitions of "Prohibited weapon" is "An instrument, including a nunchaku, that consists of two or more sticks, clubs, bars or rods to be used as handles, connected by a rope, cord, wire or chain, in the design of a weapon used in connection with the practice of a system of self-defense." It's not an actual prohibition, since the law includes an exception for "lawful exhibitions, demonstrations, contests or athletic events involving the use of such weapon," but you still have to watch your step. Sticks are fine, but sticks tied together can get you in a world of trouble.

That's a pretty damned stupid distinction, especially in a state that's otherwise rather tolerant of weapons "used in connection with the practice of a system of self-defense."

Enter Sen. Kelli Ward (R-Lake Havasu City) and her amendment to SB 1460. The original law is already a good one, expanding the restoration of civil rights to include gun ownership for people convicted of many crimes who have satisfied the terms of their sentences. Her amendment makes the bill even better, stripping nunchucks, sound suppressors, and shortened rifles and shotguns from the category of "prohibited weapons." Given that using sound suppressors to reduce the noisiness of your shooting is good manners, and that sawed-off shotguns (and rifles) are just weapons that fall in size between perfectly legal handguns and equally legal long guns, that also makes excellent sense.

As amended, SB 1460 passed muster with the Public Safety, Military and Technology Committee and won preliminary approval from the whole Senate. This will probably be just fine with the state's voters, who show very little enthusiasm for weapons restrictions in recent polling.

It's not that I mind my kid skating close the law or outright defying it. But clearing away the risk of arrest for violating stupid and intrusive laws is a better option.

Below, a typical scene in downtown Flagstaff just months from now.

NEXT: The Chicago Police Department Has a 'Black Site'

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  1. You know who else restricted citizens’ access to weapons…

      1. “Hans, Hans, you’re bustin’ bawrs, Hans! I’m not hiding any weapons of mass destruction!”

    1. Tokugawa Ieyasu?

      1. Hiro Bumi Ito.

        More obscure Japanese historical reference, but also more relevant to 2Chilli’s kid being in TKD.

        1. C’mon… didn’t he oversee the OJ simpson trial?

          1. Probably a descendant.

            He was the first Japanese governor of Korea during the occupation of Korea. The Japanese banned weapons as well as the practice of any indigenous martial arts during their occupation.

            Which is why you’d be hard pressed to find any modern Korean style that dates back to pre WW2. Most are based primarily on Japanese karate, although they also usually claim some heritage from older Korean styles, but good luck finding any proof.

            The few that do claim to trace back further usually can’t prove it either and typically involve some far fetched story about the founder studying in secret with some mysterious hermit monk up in the mountians or somehting similarly impossible to verify. Thus concludes today’s boring ass history lesson on the modern history of Korean martial arts.

      2. Was Tokugawa the one that rose up from Peasant class, and made it so Samurai couldn’t come from peasant class? Dude was politically way ahead of his time.

      3. the leader of the Oda clan, learned of this arrangement and had Ieyasu abducted from his entourage en route to Sunpu. Ieyasu was just six years old at the time.[3]

        Nobuhide threatened to execute Ieyasu unless his father severed all ties with the Imagawa clan. Hirotada replied that sacrificing his own son would show his seriousness in his pact with the Imagawa clan.

        Man, you gotta love that Japanese Warrior aesthetic.

    2. The Versailles Treaty?

    3. Little Bill?

  2. A lot of martial arts “weapons” laws came about in the 80s (probably some in the 70s too) during the “ninja” craze. As you say, lawmakers, unable to distinguish fantasy from reality better than your average teenager, were deathly afraid of things like throwing stars, butterfly knives (where the wielder is more likely to cut himself than his victim) and, yes, sticks tied together with a rope.

    What’s nice is they’re possibly some of the least-enforced weapons laws on the books. For instance, a lot of the knives sold at Home Depot or fine Korean grocery stores pretty much everywhere are technically illegal under WA state law.

    For instance, it is illegal to possess: any knife having a blade which opens, or falls, or is ejected into position by the force of gravity, or by an outward, downward, or centrifugal thrust or movement

    So, yeah, my cheap M-Tech I picked up at the hardware store is fuck-illegal.

    1. So, yeah, my cheap M-Tech I picked up at the hardware store is fuck-illegal.

      And if you ever offend a police officer, you’ll likely be charged with a crime if you happen to be carrying it.

      1. I want to say a friend of mine was stopped and the officer saw one of these basic, but technically illegal knives on him. Officer took it from him, looked at it, handed it back and said, “Nice knife”.

        Again, I love to rag on lore enforcement as much as the next glibertarian, almost every knife sold that’s a “folder” is illegal, and I’m guessing that few people are charged unless they’re enhancing some other charges.

        1. A while back when I was living in Boulder the college kids thought for a short while that it was cool to walk around with a fancy cane. The cops declared the canes to be weapons and set about confiscating them, claiming that you needed a note from your doctor to carry one. Seriously. I imagine many of the cops’ fathers got nice canes for Christmas that year.

          1. Canes are illegal in Boulder? WTFLOL?

            1. Cops make up the law as they go along.
              One time I got shaken down because I had tossed a cigarette butt into a mud puddle. A cop with “Gang Task Force” on his name tag asked me a bunch of questions, ran me for warrants, searched me, and finally let me go after promising that he’d get me eventually. I left town not too long after.

          2. Canes are illegal in Boulder? WTFLOL?

          3. Cops in college towns love hastling college kids, especially the hipster types who might be inclined to carry a cane for no reason.

            Probably because most cops in college towns are either too poor and/ or too stupid to go to college themselves, and they’re constantly reminded of that fact being surrounded by college kids, so they take out their anger by making their lives hell as much as possible.

            I saw the same dynamic when I was in college. Even though Prescott, AZ wasn’t a college town by any stretch, driving around with an “Embry Riddle Aeronautical University” sticker or out of state plates on your car was inviting the police to fuck with you at every turn. Luckily I had AZ plates and no sticker on my car, so I was in-cognito.

            1. Embry Riddle? You were USAF then? I applied (with about 8000 others) to teach an online history course back some years ago.

            2. Ha, My brother went to ERAU Prescott for 1 year before he flunked out because he spent all his time playing golf and rock climbing.

              I was stationed at Luke AFB in Phoenix at the time and spent most of my weekends hanging around Prescott with him

          4. Similar to when we’d get caught with beer in high school. If it was good beer, it would be “confiscated” and put into the trunk of the cruiser.

            If it was shit beer they’d make us open them and pour them out.

            We bitched about it, but not too much because that and a lecture was all they usually did. No tickets or other shit like that.

            Sometimes they’d give my dad shit about it (he was a probation officer) at coffee the next morning and then I’d have to hear his lectures for a month.

          5. Some friends and I climbed Mt Fuji while in the Navt there. Got some nice six foot climbing sticks with each station on the way up branding it with their unique symbology.

            Got back to the ship and the masters-at-arms confiscated them for being dangerous weapons. This on an aircraft carrier where about the only wide open spaces were the flight deck, hangar deck, and mess spaces, and just about every single water tight door had a hefty foot long piece of pipe on each side, aka “dogging wrench”. Your first instinct when picking up one of them was to look around at what you could hit with them — but our six foot sticks were weapons.

          1. I was going to mention that as well. That happened several years ago. And no spate of rapier or dagger attacks has resulted.

            I just have to remember to leave my switchblade at home when I leave the state.

            I honestly don’t know how I got by before without a knife that opens itself.

            1. I forgot about that. That was awesome in a horrible way.

              The headline is a bit deceptive, though. He was no longer a man with an apparently bloody chainsaw when he was let into the US. I suppose there is no rule against crossing with crazy eyes.

              1. Yeah. I guess they did confiscate the stuff.

            2. They know where the zombie apocalypse is going to start,

    2. Well, what’s also funny is that nunchucks and shuriken and the like are extremely retarded weapons, useless for the most part unless you have, you know, actual training in how to use them effectively (and not just for show). So, basically only ninjas. Real ones. Are there real ninjas any more?

      It would be like outlawing greatswords. Only Gregor Clegane can really use one, but hey, why not pass a law?

      1. It would be like outlawing greatswords.

        Like Scotland did.

      2. ” Are there real ninjas any more?”

        there is one

        he offers internships

        1. There are a few actual Samurai swordmasters around in Japan. Direct lineage. They offer training, too.

          That’s some badass shit.

          1. “You must have biiiiiiig rats if you need Hattori Hanzo’s steel.”

          2. True story =

            I knew a guy back in the 80s who worked with local schools in NYC and the environs teaching junior-high kids “outdoor skills” stuff.

            Basically, he’d take kids out in the woods and teach basic survival/navigation stuff, and some rock climbing tips/tricks/rope skills.

            I always remembered the guy for his ‘super-intense’ zen/eastern philosophy passion, his bizarre commitment to living outdoors 365 days a year (he lived in a @#&*^ tent behind the school for a while. In winter.).

            he was a big influence on me at the time, and i ended up spending a lot of the following years rock climbing/doing outdoors stuff. Worked at REI for a half dozen years.

            So, i suddenly tried to look the guy up like 5 years ago, wondering what the fuck happened to him.

            He ended up becoming the disciple to the leader of the 600yr old Zenko school of Kyudo Zen Archery. last i checked, he was the first non-japanese guy to be considered a ‘master’ in this particular discipline

            (*which is the formal, ‘meditative’ branch of japanese samurai-archery; along with calligraphy, tea-ceremony, one of the major parts of what constituted samurai ‘culture’)

            color me totally unsurprised.

            1. Did he kill his sensei in a duel and never say why?

              1. there is a short film here showing what’s involved with achieving “8 Dan” in Kyudo. its more meditation than asskickery, apparently

            2. Has he cleaned up Starling City yet?

      3. Swords are illegal in New York.

        1. What about swordfish?

          1. Terrible movie. Only had two redeeming features…

      4. Facts:

        1. Ninjas are mammals.
        2. Ninjas fight ALL the time.
        3. The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.

      5. “Are there real ninjas any more?”

        I kinda assume that most of them are employed in the Japanese Emperor’s personal guard, and the rest have a full time job making sure that Westerners’ ideas about Ninja are so contaminated by obvious horseshoe*t that no professional takes them seriously.

      6. Ninja Jokes = (aka ‘Ninjokes’)

        There once was a Ninja from Nantucket
        Whose Sword was so long
        He could kill everyone in a 12′ radius

        What do ninjas bake bread with?

        Anais Ninja = her pen was in fact, mightier than her sword. She killed 2,000 people with it.

        How is a Ninja like the Swiss Alps?
        Your army dies if you cross them.

        Which side of a ninja is the most dangerous?
        The outside

        A ninja once put explosive devide inside a living steer
        It was abominable
        (sound it out)

      7. What do they call ninja graduate school?
        Hiiiyaa education

    3. What does the RCW say about my Miao Dao combat sword?

      1. Nothing, to my knowledge.

        I have a relatively decent (by mass production standards) Katana and a “battle-ready” Oxtail Dao which I’ve actually tested by hacking shit in half. Bad ass.

        they can take my oxtail dao from my cold, dead, bullet-riddled hands and torso.

    4. Funnily enough, knives tied to sticks are still perfectly legal.

      1. Pikes?

  3. Congratulations to the producers of that nunchuck movie. That trailer made the awesomness of nunchucks really fucking boring.

    1. The awesomeness of Nunchucks mostly evaporates the first time you actually try to use a pair. I recommend a bicycle helmet and elbow pads, as a start.

      I wasn’t studying martial arts, I was trying to learn how they behave so I could draw them in comics.

      Swinging a nunchaku at speed is like doing a reverse spin kick. It looks great, and IF you hit you are going to do boatloads of damage. But if you try it in a real fight against somebody who has ANY experience, you are going to get hammered long before you connect. And the odds are very , VERY good that if you hit it will rebound in your face.

      Not the kick, so much.

    1. He’s relying on his right hand too much. He needs to learn to use both hands. Otherwise pretty cute.

  4. Also, 2chili = “nunchucks” is not the preferred nomenclature. “Nunchucku“, please

    1. Well, if we’s gonna get all pedantry up in here, it’s “Nunchaku”, please.

      1. No one should even think about spelling it until they have mastered the Japanese language and writing system.

        1. That’s why I’m making my daughter learn Japanese.

        2. No one should even think about spelling it until they have mastered the Japanese language and writing systems.


    2. I prefer “nunchucks”.

      1. I prefer Chuck Norris

    3. No, no, it’s nun chucks, devices to restrain nuns!

    4. Oh. You’re one of those.

  5. Everyone is kung-fu fighting.

    1. That kid is fast as lightning.

  6. . . . sawed-off shotguns (and rifles) are just weapons that fall in size between perfectly legal handguns and equally legal long guns . . .

    4ish years ago I heard about ‘mare’s leg’ pistols and had a lever action rifle I wanted to convert to one.

    Turns out that if you take a receiver that’s been designated for use in a ‘rifle’, it’ll require federal permission and $200 (minimum) for the application.

    But . . .

    There are people who sell mare’s legs who do it by taking the *exact same receiver* but the only difference is that that receiver, on its legal paperwork, went into making a *pistol* instead of a rifle at the start.

    So you can get a 40-70 receiver (a *rifle* round) that started its life as a pistol and not have any of this SBR nonsense, but if you take a .44 (a *pistol* round) CARBINE, well you can’t shorten the barrel below 16 in without permission.

  7. This all dates back to the ’80s hysteria about gangs of nunchuck-wielding hooligans ruling the streets.

    1. Which is very similar to the 50s (I think) hysteria about switchblade wielding hooligans which led to another stupid ban.

      1. On roller skates?

  8. As usual, California leads the way in stupid and restrictive laws. I was researching ways my girlfriend can protect herself from her neighbor’s vicious dog, and simply carrying a decent knife in her purse would be illegal. A collapsable baton? Illegal. A sword cane? Illegal.

    1. Seems the only option is to allow the dog to bite her and then she can report it to animal control and have the state kill it for her. With dogs as with violent human attackers, the only state apporved course of action is to call a goon in a special uniform to “help” you.

      1. I’ve joked about that, and then suing the neighbor for everything he’s got (including a $1.5 million+ home and a Bentley), but it’s not worth the risk of being crippled or killed. It’s a really scary dog.

          1. I was thinking antidepressants stuffed into a sausage….

  9. Seems like you could defend a nunchucks attack with a pillow.

    1. Maybe a whole suit of pillows. Unless you are dealing with a very slow Ninja.

    2. That’s why John wants to ban pillows.

      1. But if we ban pillows how will we ever have hot girl on girl porn?

    3. Kinda depends on whether you are being attacked by a martial artists or a dolt. If it’s a dolt, you’re probably right. A martial artist will most likely use the chain to grab and the sticks as leverage to squeeze. Arms, neck, etc. Not sure how useful a pillow would be.

  10. Police were using nunchucks to break the arms of abortion protestors.

  11. They can pry my Kawasaki ZX14 Ninja from my cold, dead fingers.

    *makes that sign like the one Chinese gang in “Big Trouble In Ritter China”*


  12. Texas still lists “mace” as part of the definition of “club.” I keep having to essplain it’s not the spray, it’s the medieval stick-with-metal-head. Sometimes to cops.

    Last Legislative session (2013) we legalized switchblades. This (2015) session we’re working on bowie knives. That will leave:
    “Illegal knife” means a:
    (A) knife with a blade over five and one-half inches;
    (B) hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown;
    (C) dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard;
    (D) sword; or
    (E) spear.


    1. So I can’t bring my J.A. Henckels 9.75″ blade kitchen knife to Texas?

      It’s very nice, straight back with the edge parallel to it for most of its length, both curving to an ogive point over the last inch or so.

      Very strong and flexible, can bend 90 degrees between point and hilt, makes a satisfying *fwip* sound when slashed through the air. Holds a sharp edge pretty much forever. Wish I had an entire set to match.

      No Idea how I came by it, was in a box of stuff I got at an auction or yard sale or somewhere at least 15+ years ago.

  13. Nunchuckas of Impending Beefy Smack. Just one of the whacky weapons from the game “Crouching Hamster, Hidden Translation”

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