Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Silly-assed laws

Texas has some really stupid laws.

I suppose everywhere does, but since the only Penal Code I'm familiar with is the one in Texas, we'll go with what I know.

Yes, for those who know me, it's my famous Switchblade Rant.

Why is it unlawful in Texas to carry a switchblade? Can anyone explain to me the logic behind this law?

For those of you who do not know, a switchblade is a knife with a spring-loaded blade, designed to be opened by pressing a button on the handle.

It's also a fairly delicate mechanism.

To see the absolute bloody beauty of this, please understand that it is lawful in Texas to carry a fixed-blade knife as long a the blade is less than 5.5 inches in length.

Yes, Gentle Readers, you can carry a 5-inch hunting knife, but you can't carry a three-inch switchblade.

You can carry a knife with a fixed five-inch blade that absolutely WILL NOT break, fail to open, or malfunction in any way.

You CAN NOT carry a knife that depends on a delicate spring to hopefully pop a blade out of the handle and hopefully lock the blade into position so that it does not collapse into the knife or across your fingers during use.

Is it just me?

Maybe I've been jaded by experience and/or training, but given the choice I'd much rather have someone coming after me a switchblade -- with the attendant possibility of said switchblade breaking, failing to work, or abruptly closing at the wrong time -- than the same person with a fixed blade knife that has zero possibility of not working.

I realize that there have been laws throughout history that got passed on sheer emotion, rather than logic, but it seems to me that in the past Logic was the guiding light of Law most of the time.

Don't believe me? The Constitution is a wonderful study in logic.

The last 40-50 years, though, I get the impression that Emotion has been the major factor in the passing of Law.

Why did we temporarily ban "assault rifles"?

Logically, an "assault rifle" is woefully underpowered compared to a hunting rifle. Hell, some places won't let hunters use 5.56mm to hunt 80 pound deer because it won't kill them reliably.

No. We banned "assault rifles" because some-bloody-idiot got on the TeeVee with her lower lip trembling and started whining about how "scary" black assault rifles looked.

Same thing with switchblades.

A switchblade sucks as a fighting knife compared to a fixed blade knife, but some-bloody-idiot got up in front of the Texas Legislature -- no doubt with a trembling lip -- and started whining about them uppity minorities killin' everbody and Grandma Frickert with switchblades and we're stuck with a silly-assed law.

Emotion is a piss-poor reason for passing laws, and it's about time that someone with some testicular fortitude got into politics and pointed this out.

Unfortunately, I don't see this happening as long as Hollywood has a deathgrip on the mind of John Q. Public.

*sigh*

LawDog

14 comments:

Nate said...

Sounds to me like somebody needs to be considering his next career move...

The Grouchy Old Yorkie Lady said...

You know, the entire time I was reading this post, I kept hearing "Tonight" from West Side Story running through my head.

Rhett said...

Her here Lawdog! We need more people in law enforcement with your sense.


A quick question....

If you think the law is stupid, do you still enforce it, or not enforce it with regularity? Just curious since I am now getting into LE work myself.

Chris Byrne said...

Racism, pure and simple. Same reason texas didnt have a carry law for most of the last 100 years (along with most other states).

Weapons restrictions laws passed prior to the late 80's were almost all primarily motivated by racism, and enforced only on minorities, unless you had pissed off a particular cop that is.

Timmeeee said...

Regarding the carry of 5" knives:

Can you carry concealed without a permit?

Can you carry openly?

Can you carry in all places in Texas?

Alex said...

Actually, wasn't it "Assault Weapons", a convenient catch-all phrase that could cover everything from an AR-15 to a pillow, that were briefly banned?

Anonymous said...

I'll give up my Benchmade auto when it's relieved from me at booking.

Besides, it was a birthday present from a Marshal. Got sentimental value, it does.

silly namby-pamby laws. No man's life, liberty or property is safe when the Texas Legislature is in session.

Regards,
Rabbit.

Grim said...

My objection runs the other way: why do we ban long knives instead of short ones?

A long knife has great defensive value, and is relatively difficult to conceal -- the rough equivalent of a rifle.

A short knife has much less defensive value, as it lacks the reach to keep an attacker off you. However, it's easily concealed, and if your purpose is to behave criminally and prey on weaker unarmed people, a three-inch blade is quite sufficient to kill or maim someone. It's the rough equivalent of a silenced pocket pistol.

Why ban the honest Bowie style knife, that manful piece of American history, which is carried openly and can be used for defense as well as crime? If you're going to ban a knife at all (which I don't see why you should do, honestly), shouldn't you ban the short knife instead of the long one?

Anonymous said...

The sad thing that for normal folks like farmers, ranchers and pretty much everyone automatic knives are wonderfully useful things. I have a couple models I use around the farm all the time. I have a CCW hopefully that covers a switchblade too when I forget to leave it home. I also obtained a couple for elderly friends and relatives who due to arthritis can't open regular knives easily anymore. Go head cite a 87 year old great great grandmoter for packing a switchblade Mr. prosecutor.

Mattexian said...

Sorry Anon, I don't think Tx law allow even the exception for one-armed folks to carry a switchblade. There's plenty of good one-handed pocketknives now (like Spyderco and Benchmade) that it's not really a hinderance anymore.

Anonymous said...

as I was reading this post I had the scene from 'Second Hand Lion' running in my mind,

when working in Glitter Gulch(aka Dallas) about 3x a year I picked up another lockblade. Why do punks always come in low?

It just sets up the dislocated shoulder and cracked ribs, then they won't let go of the silly knife and earn sprains (lower back) that require extensive chirproatic(?) treatment.

Geee I'm glad I don't work downtown anymore.

What always gets me is what putz thinks they can sneek up on someone while wearing wet doc martens

clunk, clunk squish stomp.

gimme your wall....urk, *shriek*...thud...crunch

SO thinks I have bad taste in knives, naaa, I just view them as door prizes for working in Glitter Gulch.

since TX has gone ccw and also allows guns in cars I haven't seen the little trolls recently. Darwin must be proud.

r

Anonymous said...

That's the same bizarre (il)logic that (way before the Brady Infringement law got whelped) inspired Wisconsin's 48 hour "cooling off" period for handgun purchases. Proponents of the law claimed that it would prevent people from running out and buying a pistol "in the heat of the moment", to dispatch their spouse, boss, attorney, mechanic, or anyone else who had seriously pi**ed them off. Two days was apparently determined to be the requisite amount of time for a person to regain their composure.

Now, let's consider a few things here:

A.) If the Irate in question needs to buy a gun to settle the dispute in such a manner, we might assume that they do not already own one, and it is therefore likely that they do not possess a particularly noteworthy level of gun-handling proficiency.

B.) The Wisconsin law does not pertain to long guns, either rifles or shotguns.

C.) Long guns are substantially easier to use effectively, especially for the untrained.

D.) Just about any centerfire sporting rifle or shotgun is going to fire ammunition that is significantly more lethal than all but the most expensive, special-purpose handguns.

Conclusion: Personally, if I got somebody mad enough at me to storm off to the local gun shop to buy an execution implement, I'd really prefer that someone sell them a pistol, rather than a more easily obtainable alternative.

Steve

merikxv11 said...

I'm glad there are other logical people out there who realize that laws aren't being made with much intelligence anymore.

The laws seem to be made to make people feel safe rather than being made in a way that keeps them safe.

It's kind of like how you can't wear trench coats or dusters in some places now because stupid kids concealed weapons in them and killed people. Might as well ban all clothing from people in that case, because you can hide a variety of weapons under an average jacket, shirt, or pair of pants, if done correctly.

What happens when laws finally take away all weapons? The second amendment was made to make sure that the people could protect themselves, and in the case that the government became oppressive. It was said that the government should fear the people, not the other way around.

There is no such thing as a weapon, there are only tools and the people that use them. Do not blame the tool, for it has no decision in the matter. Punish the person that makes the decision.

Sean Duggan said...

I suspect that the ban on switchblade is a combination of trying to target particular groups (gangs) as well as the easier hiding of the switchblade prior to the stab. A five inch blade, you generally know when they other person's carrying it (similarly, the foot long bowie knives are relatively safe open carries). A switchblade, you might not even know it's in their hand until they stick you. At least that's what I'm thinking it might be,