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Dagger or not?

Discussion in 'Knife Laws' started by skippyW, Sep 20, 2018.

  1. skippyW


    Jul 1, 2013
    Many state laws have restrictions or prohibitions on "daggers". None, that I know of actually define what a "dagger" is. I am wondering about knives that are symmetrical with a spear point shape but have one sharp edge and one false edge. An example would be the Spartan Blades Velos and some Cold Steel models.

    In your state or country, would these be a dagger or not a dagger or is it unknown?

    Thanks for any replies.
  2. zzyzzogeton


    Feb 17, 2013
    Back when it mattered, due to "daggers, dirks, poniards and bowie knives" being illegal for public carry in Texas, BY CASE LAW, it had been determined that any knife that had both edges sharpened for as little as 1/2 inch was a dagger.

    Thankfully, during the last legislative session, Texas did away with the term "illegal knife" and now we can carry anything in general and only have a length restriction for carry in specific locations, hence the "new" knife term - "location restricted knives".

    When broken down to "what do the terms mean", the old law read "daggers, daggers, daggers and bowie knives" were illegal, as dirks are short daggers and poniard is French for dagger.

    There was never a definition or clarification of what constituted a bowie knife. One judge is quoted as saying "I can't describe what a bowie knife looks like, but I know one when I see one."
    skippyW likes this.
  3. The Zieg

    The Zieg

    Jan 31, 2002
    From https://www.akti.org/resources/akti-approved-knife-definitions/

    A knife having a generally straight fixed blade with dual effective cutting edges.

    Comments on Daggers
    A substantial number of states have enacted statutory restrictions which mention “dagger” or “daggers” by that name or eo nomine, yet none provide any guidance as to what constitutes a dagger, or why daggers – as opposed to other types of knives – should be restricted. See State Knife Laws.

    The California statutory definition is illustrative.

    “As used in this section, a ‘dirk’ or ‘dagger’ means a knife or other instrument with or without a hand guard that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death. A non-locking folding knife, a folding knife that is not prohibited by Section 653K, or a pocketknife is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death only if the blade of the knife is exposed and locked into position.” West’s Annotated California Penal Code, Section 12020( c)(24).

    The California law provides that any person who “carries concealed upon his or her person any dirk or dagger” is subject to punishment by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year. Section 12020(a)(4).

    There is obviously a problem where a fundamental right reserved to the people under the Constitution is infringed by such an arbitrary and indefinite state law. We have the right to keep and bear arms. If the state must, for some compelling reason, restrict this right, then it must do so in the least restrictive manner and with specificity. The California definition of dagger, which is essentially an instrument capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon, is very non-specific, and for that matter, overboard.

    The answer to the question of whether an item is or is not a dagger should not be determined on the basis of the identity of the person possessing the object nor, for that matter, the whim of a law enforcement officer. It should not turn on whether the person is wearing a biker vest or a vested suit. Moreover, a citizen should not need to seek expert advice from a military historian, or one who has studied the history and development of weapons. The law should be written with clarity.

    AKTI notes that Section 5.07 of the Model Penal Code, captioned “Prohibited Offensive Weapons,” provides:

    . . . “Offensive Weapon” means any bomb, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, firearm specially made or specially adapted for concealment or silent discharge, a blackjack, sandbag, metal knuckles,dagger, or other implement for the infliction of serious bodily injury that serves no common lawful purpose (Model Penal Code Section 5.07 – emphasis supplied).

    The authors of the Model Penal Code neither define dagger nor offer any explanation as to why it would be suitable only for offensive uses and have no other common, lawful purpose. AKTIsuggests that a knife coming within the suggested definition of a dagger can be a useful tool for innumerable lawful and especially defensive purposes. Given that we have a right to keep and bear arms, we should have a right to keep and bear effective arms. It makes no sense to cede the possession and bearing of effective edged weapons to those willing to live and act outside the law.
    ponykid, Man with no name and skippyW like this.
  4. flphotog


    Jul 10, 2014
    AKTI is the absolute last place I would go to look up knife laws.
  5. The Zieg

    The Zieg

    Jan 31, 2002
    Nevertheless, they have accurately quoted the Calfornia revised statute which gives that state's definition of a dagger. This is what @skippyW asked for and said he had never found. If ATKI is not otherwise useful they have at least come through on this point.

    Man with no name and skippyW like this.
  6. Knife_Collector_101


    Sep 21, 2018
    A knife sharpened on both sides is what's most commonly called a "dagger." Some states ban daggers outright while some have restrictions on the length and others have restrictions on how the knife opens. It varies and you always got to check up on it. Some states allow you to own certain "offensive" type weapons (like switchblades, daggers, brass knuckles, throwing stars/knives, nunchaku sticks, batons, etc.) only as a collector. For example, Pennsylvania and Minnesota have exceptions in their laws in which those items can be owned by a collector for curio purposes and Montana has a similar law where you can own them as part of a registered collection.

    Btw, I'm not a lawyer and this is not intended as official legal advice. It's just based on what I've read and my personal understandings of these various laws.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  7. Man with no name

    Man with no name

    Jun 24, 2015
    California PC 20200
    Open carry of sheath knife not concealed
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
  8. Man with no name

    Man with no name

    Jun 24, 2015
    OPEN CARRY of a dirk or dagger is perfectly legal in California!
    Charlie Mike likes this.
  9. ponykid


    Sep 14, 2015
    I don't believe Massachusets defines what a dagger is either. I have some Fixed blades knives that even though are single edge I have a feeling could cause me some sort of hassle if found on my person but similar to CA. who knows? more of the same vague murky un-defined wording in the laws which allows prosecutors and courts to custom tailor your prosecution to their benefit. I cant stand the term "offensive" used in knife laws. Its a crock of shit. anything can be used as an "offensive" weapon as well as a "defensive" weapon. and presuming guilt just because an object has a more specific design as compared to another is to me a violation of our rights by states and local jurisdictions.

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