While carrying a knife was once a completely unremarkable and ubiquitous part of American life, it is not the case today. Granted, EDC of a modest blade is not in most cases (other than schools) going to bring in a SWAT team. However, People of the Knife are in the minority today. But people either don’t notice, or don’t really mind if they see a pocket clip in most jurisdictions. The only time I have been confronted about my carrying of a knife was on my wedding night in Las Vegas.
I was married in a kilt of my family tartan (MacLean of Duart). Part of the accouterments of the Highland regalia is a small knife called a Sgain Dubh. A typical example is hardly more than a fancy letter opener, and is even completely legal to carry in lamnaphobic England while one is in Highland dress. It is carried in one’s sock, with the pommel exposed.
After the ceremony at the Little Church of the West (where Elvis and Ann Margaret were married in Viva Las Vegas), we hit the casino floor before dinner. I was at the craps table with my new bride when two very large security personnel tapped me on the shoulder and said “Sir, we need you to come with us”. The breeze up my kilt suddenly felt that much chillier.
They only led me 15 feet or so away from the table. They asked me why I was carrying a weapon. I was honestly baffled as my kilt doesn’t have pockets so I knew I didn’t have my EDC. My immediate response was “What weapon?” I had completely forgotten about the sgain dubh. I think of it more like a piece of jewelry (though mine is not particularly nice) than as a functional tool.
They said that they saw the knife it in my sock on surveillance video, and that I would have to leave the floor. But other than the ominous first impression they were actually pretty cool about it. One of them had a brother in law who was married in a kilt, and he recognized it as a piece of the regalia. Since I was staying there at the Rio, and they said it was fine if I simply brought the knife up to my room.
I was lucky that I was confronted by two reasonable people. Their aura of authority was unmistakable from first contact, but they weren’t jerks about the situation. My cover story was pretty obvious. I was with a dozen people and a woman in a wedding dress. But countless examples abound where hoplophobic idiots exhibit a complete lack of common sense. People end up arrested or even killed over completely innocent actions.
In the end, I understand that I was legally in the wrong – you can’t have a weapon on a casino floor. I just honestly didn’t think of my little sgain dubh as a weapon. But the security staff responded in a way that was appropriate to the situation and it was resolved without incident.
They never commented on my kilt pin. This would probably not make it through TSA or would lead to the lockdown of a school in this day and age.