The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

The Second Amendment protects some bladed weapons, and not just firearms


The New Jersey machete decision is important because it rejects a "spontaneity" requirement for arming yourself at home (the state's theory that you could pick up a weapon against an imminent attack, but you can't come to the door with the weapon just in case). But it's also important because it reaffirms that the Second Amendment protects not just guns but other weapons as well.

This should be obvious, I think: The Second Amendment protects "arms," and the D.C. v. Heller opinion discusses bows and knives as examples of such arms; opinions in the 1800s and 1900s dealing with state constitutional rights to bear arms also mention bladed weapons; and post-Heller opinions, such as from courts in Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin agree. But some have disagreed—the Massachusetts government in the Caetano stun gun case before the Massachusetts high court, for instance, argued that Heller was limited to firearms. The New Jersey decision should be a helpful precedent, then, for other non-gun cases (though of course it doesn't dispose of the question of exactly what weapons are protected, and where they can be possessed).