Knife Story: Crapping my Kilt Edition (figuratively)

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My best friend and me leaving the Rio to get married.

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.


I see your Pop Tart, and raise you a kilt pin.



  1. Mike L says:

    Makes me ponder the following: the difference between the State handling such issues vs the private market. A casino that pulled a New York Police response (with all the collateral wounded and spent shell casings) would not be in business long. The response you experienced seems to me firm but reasonable. They don’t want to loose your business or your party’s business.

  2. Skyler says:

    I remember buying a souvenir sword when I was a kid and we traveled to Spain on an R&R flight (dad was stationed in Keflavik, Iceland with the Navy). I didn’t want them to bend the sword so I took it as a carry-on into the cabin of the C-118 gooney bird aircraft. The C-118 is a modified C-47 with nose gear instead of being a tail dragger. The sailors manning the plane laughed and apologized to me, a 13 year old, and told me that their silly rules wouldn’t allow me to carry a sword on the plane, even though it wasn’t in the least bit sharp. It was full size and made of metal, but it was just for show. That was in 1976. I think if I had done that now, I’d be in jail along with my parents.

  3. knightofbob says:

    I had my EDC (briefly) confiscated when I was in Vegas. I think it was my Boker ceramic at the time, so it could easily have been blown out of proportion considering it was taken at a metal detector (security check in front of the elevator for the Stratosphere observation deck). All that happened was that the security person put it in a manilla envelope with my name on it when we went up, and then handed it back when we came back down. I didn’t even have to ask, it was a slow day and the guy who “confiscated” it was waiting by the elevator to give it back.

    That was it. No lecture, no accusation, no fuss. He did ask how much it cost, but that was the extent of questioning (other than “Name?”). I’m sure it helped that when asked for ID to verify the name on the envelope, I presented my Air Force ID, and the group I was with was clearly similarly employed.

  4. Jim Bullock says:

    “But the security staff responded in a way that was appropriate to the situation and it was resolved without incident.”

    So, they used judgment and discretion to resolve the situation to everyone’s benefit with the least overhead possible. Funny how that’s not so common. This other thing is what happens when the rewards for the authority folks are stacked toward *creating a kerfuffle*.

    Do we remember Dalton? He’s “the cooler.” Cool-er.

    1. “You’re Dalton? I thought you’d be bigger.”

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Knife Story: Crapping my Kilt Edition (figuratively)

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