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Imagine if you walk down the road all dressed up for the Battle of Hastings reenactment with all of your fellow Viking-Normandy enthusiasts, covered neck to toe with your chainmail, your great helm on your head, and holding a kite shield with a sword on your belt, and you find someone robbing someone with a knife. I imagine that the second amendment would also protect you just as much if you decided to intervene, whether that was wise or not. I wonder if anyone has gotten into a second amendment legal battle over things not involving firearms. Or perhaps someone reenacting an American revolutionary against the British and they happen to be walking somewhere with old weapons in their belt and over their shoulder.

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  • 28
    The second amendment doesn't give anyone the right to use weapons to intervene in a crime.
    – phoog
    Jan 31 at 7:37
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    your reenactor buddies may need to do some more research if they're wearing greathelms to a reenactment of a battle over 150 years before it appeared ;)
    – Tristan
    Jan 31 at 16:14
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    When I was in college I saw in the news a case of a samurai sword (not clear which kind) being used in self defense. The chief of police said "Self defense is self defense, it doesn't matter what the weapon was." It never got to a grand jury so there's no case name to look up. (Generally speaking it is unwise to rush someone looking at you and holding any kind of sword.)
    – Joshua
    Jan 31 at 18:35
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    @computercarguy - The main WP entry on Incorporation of the Bill of Rights, as well as the section on Incorporation of the 2nd Ammendment is a good place to start reading if you want to know more about this. There's also bit in there about how the BoR worked before incorporation, as well as the BoR page ("the Bill initially only applied to the federal government, a restriction affirmed by Barron v. Baltimore (1833)").
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 6 at 13:25
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    @computercarguy - What's really important for the purposes of my comment on this question is that you may notice every date given in that section on Incorporation of the 2nd Amendment is from the 21st Century. That's how new this view of the 2nd is as a matter of law (that could generate the kind of cases the question is asking about).
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 6 at 13:37

2 Answers 2

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You are conflating two issues

The Second Amendment limits the restrictions governments can place on the weapons citizens can own and carry. It applies to all weapons, not just firearms.

Teter v. Lopez (9th Cir. 2023) was such a decision invalidating Hawaii's restriction on butterfly knives.

“Although Bruen discussed ‘firearm regulation[s],’ that was because the arm at issue in that case was a firearm,” Bea wrote. “We see no reason why the framework would vary by type of ‘arm.’”

(source)

Whether you can use a weapon (legal or otherwise) in the defence of others is a separate issue. The simple answer is: yes, if the use of the weapon is reasonable in the circumstances. If the weapon is illegal to possess, you might get a citation along with your bravery medal.

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    The "medal and a citation" bit isn't just theoretical, either. There was a case a couple decades past where a girl used her asthma inhaler to save the life of a classmate. She was widely praised for her judgement and calm -- and got a permanent record in her school file as a drug dealer.
    – Mark
    Feb 1 at 0:54
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It is not settled yet, but Commonwealth vs. Canjura is being argued in the Massachusetts courts with the argument being that the 2nd Amendment protects the right to own and carry a switchblade knife.

Canjura’s case rests on whether knives were intended by Congress to be considered in their definition of “arms” protected by the Second Amendment. Fighting knives, which include switchblades, date back to the Stone Age, and the framers of the Constitution clearly intended to include them, the defendant said in a brief.

And as noted above, a similar case in Hawaii found a ban on butterfly knives to not be consistent with the second amendment.

Prospective knife owners convinced the Ninth Circuit to overturn a decision that upheld Hawaii’s butterfly knife ban as in compliance with their right to keep and bear arms.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Monday reversed summary judgment favoring state officials, and instructed the lower court to continue proceedings in compliance with its determination that butterfly knifes are protected by the Second Amendment.

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  • you misquote the Hawai'i court: they only conclude: In Hawaiʻi, there is no state constitutional right to carry a firearm in public. Wilson has standing to challenge HRS § 134-25(a) and § 134- 27(a). But those laws do not violate his federal constitutional rights. - It is of note that the accused did carry without a license, which is required in Hawai'i.
    – Trish
    Feb 12 at 15:53

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