Martial Arts Weapons and the Law
Nunchucks are a traditional martial arts weapon. They originate from Okinawa, Japan. A pair of nunchucks, called nunchaku, consists of two short sticks connected by a rope or chain.
Nunchucks frequently appear in mass media. Many Bruce Lee martial arts films and animated television shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature nunchucks. Nunchucks also have a history in street gang violence. As a result, many people glamorize them and don't realize they can threaten public safety.
Nunchucks are illegal in a shrinking number of states and countries. This page will discuss nunchuck laws in America.
Changes in Nunchuck Laws
Are nunchucks legal? It depends. The legality of nunchucks varies. Some states ban the possession of nunchucks and nunchaku. Most states allow them.
Until 2019, four states had laws banning personal nunchuck usage. They were Arizona, California, New York, and Massachusetts. But California and Massachusetts are the only states still banning these martial arts weapons.
In 2018, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of a New York resident who argued that the state's nunchuck ban was unconstitutional because it prevented martial artists from training with nunchucks.
The court agreed that the ban violated the Second Amendment right of New Yorkers to bear arms. The presiding judge reasoned that law-abiding citizens commonly use nunchucks in karate and self-defense and cited a 2010 landmark Supreme Court case holding that the Second Amendment extends to state laws.
Nunchucks and Your Legal Rights
If you're charged with possessing nunchucks or are the victim of a nunchuck-related crime, you'll want to plan your legal strategy as soon as possible.
Some of the factors your criminal law attorney will consider include:
- The elements of the crime
- Potential defenses
If a police officer in California or Massachusetts searches you and finds any martial arts weapons, they may arrest you. The police can charge you with a misdemeanor. It depends on the local ordinances.
Serious, non-fatal nunchuck injuries do happen. Nunchucks are dangerous even when a person uses them properly. Many companies craft martial arts weapons with hardened wood, metal, or plastic sticks.
A short rope, metal chain, or leather usually connects them. When used in a technically accurate manner, the sticks reach high speeds and can strike an object with tremendous force.
Some of the injuries nunchucks cause include:
- Broken bones
- Eye and nose injuries
One problem is that many people don't learn how to use nunchucks from a Japanese martial arts instructor. They don't spend time in a dojo or martial arts school and have no idea how to use them properly. They see someone use them in kung fu movies and try to mimic them. They use them for fun, exercise, or as a defensive weapon.
Nunchuck Safety Tips
If you want to avoid injuring someone with your nunchucks, you should follow the safety tips below.
- Follow your state's nunchuck laws. If martial arts weapons are not banned, you must still use extreme care when handling or practicing with them.
- If you are outside your home state, check the applicable local and state regulations governing the use of nunchucks and nunchaku.
- Get safety training at a martial arts school and practical experience operating nunchucks.
- Never let young children play with or near nunchucks.
- Never use nunchaku while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Like any dangerous weapon, nunchucks have the potential to hurt others, whether purposely or accidentally. If you injure someone or damage property, the victim may sue you in civil court. You may also face charges in a criminal court.
Confused About Nunchucks and the Law? Get an Attorney's Help
Depending on where you live, you can buy a pair of nunchucks without a background check. Just use them carefully, or law enforcement could charge you criminally.
If the police charge you for having or using nunchucks, contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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