We have been following Knife Rights’ efforts in the Wisconsin legislature to legalize automatic knives (and enact knife law preemption). AB 142 passed the Assembly and out of Senate committee. It is waiting on a full Senate vote and Governor Walker’s signature.
While not directly related to this effort, the Wisconsin 3rd District Appeals Court ruled today that an Appleton man’s conviction for the possession of a 4″ switchblade in his own home was unconstitutional and unanimously overturned his 2012 conviction.
“State attorneys argued that the prohibition serves a crucial government goal – protecting the public from potentially deadly surprise attacks by people wielding switchblades.
The appellate court found the possession prohibition is unconstitutional as applied specifically to the facts of Herrmann’s particular case. The judges said the state’s argument that the prohibition protects public safety has nothing to do with Herrmann’s case since possession in a home for self-defense poses little to no danger to the public.”
The judges based their ruling on the 2008 SCOTUS Heller decision, which ruled DC’s handgun ban unconstitutional as far as possessing a handgun within one’s own home.
“The court also said the ban significantly burdens Herrmann’s right to bear arms. The judges pointed to a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the District of Columbia’s handgun ban as precedent. That ban prohibited people from possessing handguns in their homes, which the high court found unconstitutional.
The court said it didn’t need to address whether the ban was broadly unconstitutional since it determined it clearly doesn’t apply in Herrmann’s specific circumstances. Case law dictates appellate decisions should be decided on as narrow grounds as possible, the court added.”
Of course this sets up the legal trap where one is breaking the law by carrying the knife onto the premises in the first place.
“Herrmann’s attorney, public defender Joseph Ehmann, said he was pleased for his client but believes the court should have decided whether the ban was unconstitutional on its face.
(The decision) doesn’t address the right to carry it outside one’s home for protection,” Ehmann said. “How do you even get the knife to your house? People can lawfully carry guns but can’t lawfully carry a knife?”
That is why AB 421 is so important. It would clean up this paradox and restore the God-given right to keep and bear tools (for self-defense or any other reason) to the good citizens of Wisconsin. The legislature is not expected to reconvene until January, and the momentum is pointing towards another Civil Rights victory for Knife Rights. If the effort reaches any hiccups that need some public pressure, we will be sure to pass on an action alert.
Fox11 goes into detail describing the circumstances that led to Herrmann’s conviction:
“According to court filings, Herrmann accidentally cut his own femoral artery with his spring-assisted, four-inch switchblade while showing the knife to friends in his home in 2012. He called 911 and police accompanying a responding ambulance team found the knife and a bong in the home.
Herrmann was charged with possession of a switchblade and drug paraphernalia, both misdemeanors. Outagamie County Circuit Judge Dee Dyer found him guilty of both counts following a 2014 bench trial and ordered him to pay a fine.
While not as black and white as the prohibition on using firearms while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is probably a good idea to lay off the bong when you are going to play with knives, automatic or not.
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