For aficionados of the Second Amendment, a question: does the right to keep and bear “arms” include weapons other than firearms? If so, does it protect the right to keep and bear a knife? And if so, what kinds of knives are protected?
Yesterday, the Washington Supreme Court rendered its opinion in City of Seattle v. Evans. Evans was driving a car that was stopped by Seattle police. When Evans exited the vehicle, he told the officer that he had a knife in his pocket. It turned out to be a fixed-blade paring knife. He was charged with, and convicted of, unlawful use of weapons pursuant to a Seattle city ordinance, which makes it a crime to carry a “dangerous knife,” defined as any fixed-blade knife or a knife longer than three-and-a-half inches. Evans argued that the ordinance violates the Second Amendment.
The Court affirmed the conviction and held that, although the Second Amendment may protect some knives and other weapons beyond firearms, it does not protect paring knives. That is because, the court said, these are not the kind of weapons traditionally designed and possessed for purposes of self-defense. A paring knife, rather, is merely a “utility tool, not a weapon.”
So the court seemed to acknowledge that some knives might be protected by the Second Amendment, but apparently left for another day the question of whether the Seattle ordinance sweeps so broadly as to capture knives that are constitutionally protected.