Sunday, March 27, 2016

FL: Florida Removes Antique Slungshot Prohibition

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Florida has eliminated their antiquated slungshot law.  The law was another of those "trendy" laws enacted without much thought, based on emotion and myth.  The item banned, essentially a weight on the end of a cord, is so common and easily made as to be unenforceable.  The items are also commonly known as a Monkey's Fist.  It is interesting that this reform occurs almost simultaneously with the Supreme Court confirming that "arms" under the Second Amendment are "all instruments that constitute bearable arms".  From 14-10078 Caetano v. Massachusetts(pdf) :

The Court has held that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 582 (2008), and that this “Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States,” McDonald v.Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, 750 (2010).

Slungshots are clearly "bearable arms". From the bill, HB 4009, as enacted into law(pdf):
House Bill No. 4009
An act relating to slungshot; amending s. 790.09, F.S.; deleting provisions  prohibiting the manufacture or sale of any instrument or weapon usually known as slungshot; amending s. 790.001, F.S.; revising the definition of the term “concealed weapon” to delete the inclusion of a slungshot; amending s. 790.18, F.S.; deleting a provision prohibiting a dealer in arms from selling or transferring a slungshot to a minor; providing an effective date.
I doubt that the Caetano decision was ever brought into debate about the Florida bill.  The bill passed unanimously; slung shots have not been in much use by criminal gangs for some time.  It would have made sense for the Florida legislature to simply have done away with the ban on the carrying of concealed weapons altogether.  The Florida decision is just part of the cultural and legal flow away from civilian disarmament.  Once the dam was broken, and firearms became recognized as Constitutionally protected weapons, useful for self defense, the prohibition on lesser weapons seems pointless and absurd.


One way this is impacting legislation is in widespread reform of knife laws. Knife Rights deserves great credit here.  They have lobbied and pushed legislation into law in a dozen states, creating knife preemption laws to give uniform knife laws throughout a state, and eliminating silly and antiquated bans such as those on switchblade knives.

The switchblade laws were a later version of the slungshot laws: trendy laws aimed at criminal gangs.  At least the slungshot was not an ordinary implement carried by millions everyday.

Another trendy law has been the ban on nunchucks, essentially two sticks or bars joined together with a short length of cord or chain.

Arizona legislators have introduced bills to repeal the ban, which appears to have been based on kung fu movies.  The legislation has not received much support at this time.

The removal of the slungshot ban went into effect on the date of Governor Scott's signature, 24 March, 2016.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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