Is it legal to own a sword with a D-guard or knuckle guard in California CA?

Discussion in 'Knife Laws' started by xyclopx, Apr 13, 2020.

  1. xyclopx

    xyclopx Platinum Member Platinum Member

    119
    Aug 30, 2019
    Hi,

    Is it legal to own a sword with a D-guard or knuckle guard in California CA?

    I know it's illegal to own a knife with a D-guard or knuckle guard in California, but I can't find any definitive statement on swords. Googled forever on this.

    So, does anyone know if that laws that make those features on shorter knives illegal also apply to swords? Is it based on length? I did find a source somewhere that implied 9" to be the cutoff in regards to this, but he wasn't clear.

    1. Is it illegal to own?
    2. Is it illegal to carry?
    3. Is there any length threshold that pertains to this?

    Like, is owning a rapier illegal? Also, I guess it's a tangent, but how do museums get away with owning knives with guards, and swords with guards?

    Thanks!
     
  2. glistam

    glistam

    Dec 27, 2004
    You will not find anything about it because there is no law prohibiting it. Knuckle-guards and knuckle-bows on swords do not meet the definition of brass knuckles in any state with the possible exception of "trench knives" which have individual holes for each finger. I happen to known many practitioners of historical European sword arts in California who regularly compete with sabers, rapiers and other swords in public venues, and there has never been a problem.
     
  3. xyclopx

    xyclopx Platinum Member Platinum Member

    119
    Aug 30, 2019
    Thanks! So then what makes the law apply to knives and not to swords in this regard? Is there a length threshold?

    I am pretty sure that any form of D guard, with individual holes or not, on a “knife” is illegal to own.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2020
  4. glistam

    glistam

    Dec 27, 2004
    I think we're mixing up different regulations. California has one set of laws for knuckle dusters, and another separate law for bladed weapons. Knuckles are illegal to possess, whereas most large non-folding knives and swords are actually legal to own and even carry, provided they are not concealed or prohibited by local ordinance.

    Knuckles are devices worn on the hand that "protects the wearer’s hand while striking a blow, or increases the force of impact from the blow or injury to the individual receiving the blow." There's various case law around this but basically it means it has to be a device designed or adapted to punch people with. The protective guard on a knife or a sword is not designed to do that (with the exception of the trench knife), but is instead design to protect the hand from being hit by an opponent's weapon in a fight. An important point is that the knuckle law only applies to knuckles. There is no law in CA that singles out knives with knuckles attached. Think of it as the parts of the knife or sword are viewed separately. A knife or sword with a true knuckle-duster-style guard like a trench knife is illegal because of the knuckles; the fact that it has a blade attached is irrelevant.

    A knife or a sword without a true knuckle-duster, but with a D guard or knuckle-bow, is treated as a edged weapon and nothing more. Penal Code 21310 doesn't have any specification on size. Concealment or brandishing would be the only issue. One of the aforementioned sword fighters I know carried a full size swept hilt rapier on the BART, and was told by the transit police that it was fine as long as it wasn't concealed. It was sheathed, but the guard and hilt were fully visible.
     
  5. xyclopx

    xyclopx Platinum Member Platinum Member

    119
    Aug 30, 2019
    Thanks for that reasoning. I'll let it stand as it's informative.

    So, I've seen many threads about this before, but most pertain to knives. As I said, never saw a discussion in the context of a sword. But we have this one:

    https://www.bladeforums.com/threads/ca-knives-with-metal-knuckle-type-hand-guards.198032/

    And here is one that has similar reasoning to you, seeming to lean towards non-knuckled knives/swords being legal:

    http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/archive/index.php/t-1430024.html

    There are many more I've seen over the last few months, but can't seem to find them now...

    Okay well, based on your reasoning and the fact that you have friends who carry such swords in California, and the various web pages I pulled up today,... it looks like there is no precedence in cases because no one has ever cared to try someone for such a crime, and thus I suppose it’s safe to carry a sword with a guard.

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2020
  6. xyclopx

    xyclopx Platinum Member Platinum Member

    119
    Aug 30, 2019
  7. Danke42

    Danke42

    Feb 10, 2015
    Can you expand on your question? Mostly with a why?

    Are you wanting to run around Cali with a basket hilted broad sword to slay dragons? Are you trying to strap a custom WWII trench knife to your belt with a two foot blade so you can laugh off the Police attempting to stop you?

    Don't forget the prosecutor in California who scored a conviction on a fellow with an open SAK in his pocket defining it as an "Dirk or Dagger". It was eventually overturned but I bet it wasn't fun for that guy.
     
  8. xyclopx

    xyclopx Platinum Member Platinum Member

    119
    Aug 30, 2019
    Well, cause obviously I want to buy a sword with a guard. Right?

    There are reports of people prosecuted for owning knives with guards just FYI. So yeah, it’s a question that needs an answer.
     
    KELAMA likes this.
  9. Danke42

    Danke42

    Feb 10, 2015
    Well then do it. If you get locked up any advice you got on here won't help anyway.
     
  10. Man with no name

    Man with no name

    Jun 24, 2015
    CPC. 16590
     
  11. xyclopx

    xyclopx Platinum Member Platinum Member

    119
    Aug 30, 2019
    I don't get your attitude. This is a forum to discuss laws right? I'm asking what the law is that governs this. Please keep this discussion focused on laws.
     
    KELAMA likes this.
  12. Man with no name

    Man with no name

    Jun 24, 2015
    Penal Code 16590 - Law section
     
  13. xyclopx

    xyclopx Platinum Member Platinum Member

    119
    Aug 30, 2019
    k, well, thanks, but that's the part we need guidance on:

    16590 is this:
    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=16590.

    which lists:
    (o) Metal knuckles, as prohibited by Section 21810.

    so, looking up 21810 we some info:
    https://www.shouselaw.com/brass-knuckles

    which references 16920 for a definition:
    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=16920

    it reads:

    "16920. As used in this part, “metal knuckles” means any device or instrument made wholly or partially of metal that is worn for purposes of offense or defense in or on the hand and that either protects the wearer’s hand while striking a blow or increases the force of impact from the blow or injury to the individual receiving the blow. The metal contained in the device may help support the hand or fist, provide a shield to protect it, or consist of projections or studs which would contact the individual receiving a blow."

    So, those are the applicable statements I know of. Your interpretation?

    Is the guard on a sword used to strike a person? I think it's arguable, no? I believe that's the ultimate crux of this discussion.

    Also note it explicitly states: "The metal contained in the device may... provide a shield to protect it..." almost calling out such a guard-like device
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2020
  14. Danke42

    Danke42

    Feb 10, 2015
    The law is grey for the simple reason that if the authorities chose to prosecute or lock you up they want to make sure there is not a lot rules telling them they can't.

    It's not like a game of checkers or even chess. Those have rules.

    What you plan to do with said item will have a huge effect on how things play out. If you plan to hang a basket hilted sabre over your fireplace to celebrate your heritage you are going to be fine.

    If you want to find some sort of jailhouse lawyer workaround so you can carry a trench knife outdoors all the while explaining you're a "Sovereign Citizen" I will watch for you on Cops.
     
    Man with no name likes this.
  15. Danke42

    Danke42

    Feb 10, 2015
    Do you watch Forged in Fire? Those dudes are punching targets with the guards on their swords all the time.
     
    xyclopx likes this.
  16. Man with no name

    Man with no name

    Jun 24, 2015
    Chaos Bowie - Now Available - YouTube

    Cold Steel, which is based in California, offers several fixed blade knives with D-guards on the handles. They have not been prosecuted for any crime regarding the manufature, sale or distribution of these knives. Carrying one on your belt while shopping at the local mall or grocery store may get a different response from authorities regardless of the legality of doing so!

    If you want a definitive answer on the matter why not consult a local attorney in the area you wish to purchase, carry or otherwise use such items? Most law offices will give a free or low cost consultation regarding such matters and it sure beats finding out the hard way!
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2020
  17. SW-EDC

    SW-EDC Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Dec 4, 2015
    Living in Southern California for almost my entire life, but not retiring here ( here I come AZ or WY), don't worry, I am as Conservative as they get, I have noticed that our knife laws here are pretty relaxed. I have never been stopped or hassled ever in my 49 years of living here carrying a knife. I often see open carry of fixed blades as well here all the time.
    I am in Eastern L.A. County.
    I do not live in the City of Los Angeles.
     
    KELAMA likes this.
  18. Knife_Collector_101

    Knife_Collector_101

    94
    Sep 21, 2018
    There seems to be a consensus that “D” guards on swords don’t qualify as knuckle dusters.

    It seems that in order for something to specifically be a knuckle duster, it would have to be a device with four finger holes guarding each finger individually. Trench knives can be a grey area that may very well screw you if you’re in a state, county or town that prohibits brass knuckles or knuckles made out of different material. I wouldn’t chance it. In Texas before they changed their law, those Wild Cat self defense key chains fell under their brass knuckle definition (even though they have two finger holes) and several people got in trouble for those.
     
  19. zzyzzogeton

    zzyzzogeton

    Feb 17, 2013
    Got in trouble? They were arrested, tried and convicted of "C" misdemeanors and felonies and put in jail over "Hello Kitty" key rings. They were part of the reason the law was changed. "Knuckle purses" carriers were also arrested and convicted.

    4 holes are not the criteria for being a "duster" or "knuckles". "Being capable of inflicting injury", regardless of material, be it plastic, steel, brass, aluminum, while held in the hand is the primary factor. One hole "D-guard" knives also fall into the "knuckles" category. It all depends on if the arresting officer decides they are "knuckles" and if the DA wants to push for more convictions.
     

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