We New Hampshirites have suffered for generations under a Byzantine structure of selectively enforced, misguided knife laws. However, on May 18, 2010 Governor Lynch signed our new Knife Rights bill into law. No more will retailers who sell automatic knives, or highland games participants wearing a dirk as part of their regalia, be subject to arrest and prosecution. Prior to the law being passed you could have a switchblade while hunting, fishing or performing EMT work, but it was illegal for you to possess it on the way to, or back from, your activity. Additionally, the certain ceremonial daggers requisite to certain pagan and Sikh religious ceremonies were illegal. Knife possessors could receive 12 months in jail for carrying such a knife.
Fortunately, legal scholar and weapons enthusiast Evan Nappen, a Second Amendment activist for the entirety of his adult life, has chosen to make the “Live Free or Die” state his home. I spoke with him about New Hampshire’s recent knife rights expansion. He made me aware that the Second Amendment covers “arms,” not guns. For edged-tool enthusiasts, that means our favorite swords, hatchets, dirks, daggers, kukris, halberds, machetes, bayonets, bolos, stilettos, kris, trench knives and autos are protected, inalienable tools for our self-preservation.
An idea came to Nappen when he considered Delgado, the 1984 Oregon Supreme Court Case which found switchblades to be protected under Oregon’s state constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and Heller, the recent ruling that restored Second Amendment rights in Washington, D.C. Most people are unaware, but Heller cited George Neumann’s book entitled “Swords and Blades of the American Revolution” as a source of supportive argument. Nappen concluded that if he could properly present and frame his argument, that New Hampshire’s legislature might act in a “morally and legally correct fashion, understanding our history and apply proper law as opposed to political correctness, in the same way as did the Oregon Supreme Court in the Delgado case.”