Hawaii Butterfly Knife Ban Challenged on Second Amendment Grounds

If the government can get away with banning this tool, what won’t it be able to infringe on? (Photo credit: Iamthawalrus)

U.S.A. – -(Ammoland.com)- “Knives are arms protected by the Second Amendment,” a complaint filed Wednesday in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii contends. The case is Andrew Teter and James Grell, Plaintiffs, v. Clare E. Connors, in her  Official Capacity as the Attorney General of the State of Hawaii, and Al  Cummings, in his Official Capacity as the  State Sheriff Division Administrator, Defendants. The complaint challenges the State of Hawaii’s ban on butterfly knives (or balisongs), knives “having a blade encased in a split handle that manually unfolds with hand or wrist action with the assistance of inertia, gravity or both.”

In a ruling on a related case reported recently, the United State District Court, Southern District of New York, declared the state’s ban on gravity knives was unconstitutional. That followed a similar ruling on nunchakus. Representing plaintiffs in both those cases was attorney James Maloney.

Representing Teter and Grell in the Hawaii butterfly knife complaint are two attorneys familiar to AmmoLand Shooting Sports News readers frequenting this column, Alan Beck and Stephen Stamboulieh. In addition to supporting this correspondent in numerous actions including a challenge to the Trump bump stock ban, the pair won similar victories getting state bans on electronic weapons in New Jersey and New York declared unconstitutional.

“Butterfly knives are arms in common use for lawful self-defense,” the Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief explains. “Butterfly knives are a traditional martial arts weapon of the Filipino people. It is commonly owned by Filipinos for purposes of lawful self-defense throughout the world.”

“Analogous to nunchucks, butterfly knives, ‘as used in the martial arts, are socially acceptable and lawful behavior, especially here in Hawaii where the oriental culture and heritage play a very important role in society,’” the complaint elaborates, citing a prior opinion from the Supreme Court of Hawaii. “Today, butterfly knives ‘are widely used in the martial arts to build up dexterity, timing, mind and body coordination and aids in developing a larger sphere of consciousness around an individual.’”

And importantly, because the Second Amendment is not about “sporting purposes,” the complaint reminds the court:

“Knives and butterfly knives as a form of knife are bearable arms… Butterfly knives as a form of knife are arms protected by the Second Amendment.”

“There is no reason why Hawaii bans this treasured martial arts arm of the Filipino people,” attorney Beck declared to AmmoLand. “I am happy to announce my dear friend and training partner Burton Richardson has joined me as an expert witness and has submitted a declaration which is attached to the complaint.

“Burton and I hope to bring our decades of martial arts experience into court in order to explain that balisong knives are constitutionally protected arms owned and trained with by Filipino martial arts practitioners all around the globe,” he stated. “The government has no interest in banning these protected arms.”

About David Codrea:David Codrea

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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Trump should declare by exec order, the Democrat Party as a Domestic Terrorist Org. They are against EVERYTHING this country had stood the test of time for. They are cockroaches & should be dealt with accordingly.

Casey Unknown

It’s so funny that I have to endure being called racist for having conservative views. I’m not, by the way(racist no, conservative yes). The amazing reality is that liberals are scared to death of brown people. If you don’t believe me check out California law on blow guns, compound bows are way more deadly and equally silent, but they tend to be in the possession of white men so it’s ok. And the liberals absolutely hate the idea of anyone defending themselves. Balisong verses assist open, give me a fucking break. Nun chukka verses aluminum baseball bat give me a… Read more »


Even in highly trained hands a butterfly knife is no match for speed compared today’s assisted opening knives–to outlaw the butterfly knife is just dumb! Then again I bet the Attorney General of Hawaii is a Democrat.


Outlawing a certain type of knife is plain ridiculous. As for me I would much rather have a 6 foot staff, much better all around weopon. Even in close proximity it is an excellent weopon. As long as people vote in democrats, these assaults on our rights will always be happening. The 2nd amendment is not the only one in danger, socialist democrats also want to limit our rights to the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments.

Jack A Furbush

These Libtards in America today are what will eventually destroy the greatest society the world has ever known. People that are so guttless and stupid they fear a weapon are pathetic. They look to Government like a small child looks to their parents to protect them from the big bad world. Myself and most Americans are more than capable and willing to protect ourselves and what belongs to us. We also have been the 3% that won and always defended this great nation and it’s way of life. Unlike these sniveling weakling turds, we don’t need Government to protect us.… Read more »


Thanks for sharing this, I have faith that Alan Beck and I will be able to see this through and restore another one of the many rights that have been senselessly taken from the people here in Hawaii.

Dan Schwager

What don’t they BAN in Hawaii????

Gary S.

Taking bunches of tourists money

Mitch stone

Ironically nunchucks were a peasant/farmers tool for processing rice. They developed techniques to use them as weapons along with other harmless appearing items such as a staff etc. to defend themselves when the emperor banned anyone but nobles to carry swords etc. thats what makes our constitution so unique. All people for all time have had the god given rights we enjoy in the USA however the vast majority of them live or have lived under oppressive governments that don’t allow them to be exercised.

david m hudson

So true , you must be a fellow soldier but what do we know! To the libtards we are their knuckle draggers! They will tell you no one needs a retirement untill age 65! Said by a libtard to an individual known to her as a veteran! What a waste of hair, teeth and eyeballs!

James M

As a kid I never understood why I was allowed to carry a 10″ Bowie knife, but a switchblade or balisong are illegal. Even at 10 years old I understood that a hiking staff was a better weapon than a knife. Even then my knife was only a tool. As a last resort maybe a weapon. But in my 36 years on this earth I have never once had to use a knife as a weapon.


Seems to be Caetano would be a prime case to cite.

William Flatt

And if knives, as ‘Arms’, can be successfully defended under 2A then so can machine guns for the same reason. Any background check for buying a machine gun is operatively no different than for a semiauto rifle. NFA/GCA/Hughes/etc. represents an unconstitutional infringement that should have been challenged right away, but the NRA (Not Really Activists) allowed it ALL to happen. A pox on BOTH their houses (NRA and BATFE)!!

Bruce Mahlin

What he said!!!

P gallarfi

I guess the person who buys this will have to have a background check?

Trump supporter Hernandez

The war on guns will never be over as long as the left and their trolling democratic party are in operation. Declare them unfit for office. Unfit to be elected and unfit for politics.