Hawaii Legalizes Butterfly, Switchblade & Gravity Knives & More!

Hawaii Governor Josh Green has signed HB2342 into law as Act 021. The new law repeals the bans on manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, and transportation of Butterfly Knives (Balisongs), Switchblades and Gravity Knives as well as Brass Knuckles (including Trench Knives and Karambits), Swords and Spears. The new law is effective immediately.

WARNING: Hawaii’s bans on concealed carry of these knives is retained. These knives should only be open carried. Also, the new law increases penalties if they are used in the commission of a crime.

The new law also includes a number of anti-firearm measures.

This bill was filed at the request of the Governor. The question as to why a notoriously anti-Second Amendment governor would want to legalize these non-firearms weapons revolves around the fact that Hawaii has recently been on the losing end of a number of Second Amendment lawsuits, most pointedly, Teter v Lopez challenging the state’s ban on Butterfly Knives.

Last August a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that Hawaii’s ban on butterfly knives violates the Second Amendment. Knife Rights filed an important amicus (friend of the court) brief in support of the appellants in this case.

Responding to Hawaii’s request, in February the Ninth Circuit announced that it will hear oral arguments in June for a rehearing en banc (the whole court) that could overturn the 3-0 panel decision in Teter that Hawaii’s ban on Butterfly Knives is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.

Shortly after the governor signed the new law, Hawaii moved to have Teter declared moot.(meaning that the case has lost its practical significance because the underlying controversy has been resolved). This is clearly an attempt to avoid a decision that might adversely affect the state’s extreme firearms restrictions.

The retention of the concealed carry ban potentially creates an issue with Butterfly Knives that could possibly keep the case alive. Unlike Switchblades and Gravity Knives, that have for decades been readily available with a pocket clip, Butterfly Knives have been commonly designed to be carried within a pocket and are not usually fitted with a pocket clip. Whether the en banc court agrees remains to be seen

Congratulations are due Alan Beck and Stephen Stamboulieh, the plaintiffs’ attorneys in Teter. Beck said, “Today is a great day for liberty in Hawaii. I am proud that our litigation compelled Hawaii to change its law. However, Hawaii’s failure to remove its concealed carry restrictions means that we will need to continue our litigation.”

Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter said, “this is a huge victory for knife owners and knifemakers in Hawaii. Knife Rights is proud to have played a role with our Amicus Brief in the Teter v Lopez appeal which resulted in a huge Second Amendment win for all knife owners and Second Amendment supporters. Credit also to San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee and Firearms Policy Coalition who joined us on that amicus.”

Ritter added, “While Knife Rights welcomes this new law loosening of restrictions on knife possession, it does not finish the job in Hawaii. We still have work to do and look forward to working with our friends to continue the fight until there are no restrictions on carry in Hawaii.”

The Hawaii Firearms Coalition, which provided financial support for the lawsuit, is planning a celebration of the new law. We will provide details in our social media and via a News Slice email as soon as we get them.

Please support Knife Rights’ litigation efforts with a tax-deductible donation to the Knife Rights Foundation at: (select Knife Rights Foundation)

Knife Rights is America’s grassroots knife owners’ organization; leading the fight to Rewrite Knife Law in America™ and forging a Sharper Future for all Americans™. Knife Rights efforts have resulted in 46 bills enacted repealing knife bans in 30 states and over 175 cities and towns since 2010.