Hawaii Continues Balisong Battle In Courts

Hawaii Continues Balisong Battle In Courts
Balisong-flipping competitions emphasize safety and include competitors from teens to adults. (Squid Industries image)

Knife Rights reported on September 22 that Hawaii had petitioned the Ninth Circuit Court for a rehearing en banc in an attempt to overturn a recent 3-0 panel decision that ruled the state’s balisong ban unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.

The panel decision in favor of the appellants in Teter v. Lopez was a big win for Second Amendment (2A) supporters. However, the decision would be rendered moot if the Ninth Circuit grants Hawaii’s petition for the en banc rehearing and then the state is somehow able to have the decision overturned.

Among other unconstitutional assertions, Hawaii’s petition claims that only weapons “commonly used for self-defense” are 2A protected. As Knife Rights (KR) points out, such a claim was refuted by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, which established that arms usable for “any lawful purpose” are 2A protected and not just those used “commonly for self-defense.”

Hawaii’s petition includes the dishonest claim, “If left undisturbed, the panel’s analysis will govern challenges involving many highly dangerous weapons that States quite reasonably seek to regulate or ban: assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and more.”

The state’s insinuation that a balisong is “a highly dangerous weapon” is ludicrous and unsupported by the facts. Where are all the instances and facts and figures of balisongs being highly dangerous? I’ve watched 13-year-olds-and-up flip balisongs for the past seven years at Blade HQ’s Battle for Bali-Champion at the BLADE Show, not to mention the West Coast Flipping Championships conducted by Squid Industries at BLADE Show West, and I’ve yet to see any “highly dangerous weapon” activity in any of them. Besides, if such contests were full of activity involving “highly dangerous weapons”—especially when youngsters are actively involved—not only would show officials cancel them but the venues hosting the shows would forbid them as well, something none of them have done.

BLADE Show's first balisong competition
BLADE Show 2017 hosted its first-ever balling competition coordinated by Blade HQ.

Adding to the absurdity of the state’s petition is its not-so-veiled attempt to include balisongs in the ambiguous world of “assault weapons.” “Assault weapon” is one of those anti-2A boogeyman catchall terms that has never been adequately defined for legal or legislative purposes by anyone or anything at any time—in large part because millions of items, from human fists to automobiles, are used as assault weapons. As a result, any law-abiding judge should reject any petition containing the term “assault weapon” as legally null and void due to its use of indefinable, overly inclusive language.

At press time, KR indicated the next step was for the petition to be circulated to all active Ninth Circuit judges and any senior judge who chose to participate. As KR noted, it was likely that the appellants would be required to respond to the petition about why the court should not rehear the case, though the judges could just vote on it instead. “Odds are that sooner or later the court will vote to rehear the case,” KR noted on its website, kniferights.org, “but we’ll see.”

If you live in Hawaii, contact your state officials and tell them to pull all the strings they can to uphold the panel’s decision asserting that the bali ban is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, stay tuned to KR’s website for updates.
Considering the left-leaning history of the Ninth Circuit Court, this decision has huge precedent-setting implications.

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