As a child of the 1980s, martial arts films were all the rage. Every other movie seemed to feature “ninja” in the title or something like that. As a result, almost every male of my generation grew up knowing martial arts weapons by name. Especially for kids who were too young to own firearms, martial arts weapons were something we could probably get and feel a little safer.
New York, in particular, has traditionally taken a more dim view of the weapons.
That doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, the state of New York seems to prefer potential victims of crime remain disarmed at all times.
However, a federal court just handed the city an interesting defeat. It seems it has ruled that the Second Amendment extends to weapons like nunchucks.
Judge Pamela K. Chen found in favor of James M. Maloney in her 32-page ruling on Friday, arguing that the sale, use, and possession of nunchaku or chuka sticks — a simple weapon consisting of two sticks connected by a length of chain or rope — is protected by the Second Amendment. As such, New York’s ban on such weapons, enacted in 1974 after their popularity in martial arts films of the time, went too far and is an unconstitutional restriction.
Maloney, a college professor and an amateur martial artist, created his own martial arts style of which he is the sole practitioner. Key in his style is the use of nunchucks for self-defense, which are illegal to possess or sell in the Empire State. As he wants to both train his children in the art and possess the weapons in his home legally, he filed a lawsuit back in 2003 in an effort to overturn the law and, last Friday, the court sided with him.
Maloney pointed out to the court that 64,890 factory-produced metal and wood nunchakus have been sold to folks in this country since 1995. That’s enough to make them common.
The court sided with him, as it should have.
For most of us, when we think of the Second Amendment, we think of guns. Naturally.
But the thing is, it’s the right to keep and bear arms. That includes weapons like nunchucks, even if they’re essentially obsolete in most ways. That’s important because it also protects the next kind of weapon. Technology advances, after all. The Kentucky rifle was the standard civilian firearm when the Second Amendment was written, but the descriptor of “arms” protected repeating firearms when they were introduced. It means it should protect whatever firearms come next, even if we don’t live to see that day.
By encompassing all weapons as “arms,” it goes on to protect those that simply don’t exist.
It’s easy to rag on a guy who wants to carry around nunchucks all day. Frankly, I prefer the Han Solo approach and recognize that ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster at your side. Especially since I’m doubtful his personal martial art is all that effective, though I doubt any nunchuck-focused martial art is that effective against an attacker armed with a firearm.
That doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is a win for the Second Amendment as a whole, an important win.
It’s not just some guy who watched Enter The Dragon too many times or something. It’s a stand that will protect whatever comes next.