New York ‘Nunchucks’ Ban Ruled Unconstitutional by Federal Court

A Japanese fan dresses as the late Hong Kong Kung Fu star Bruce Lee and shows his skill of
AP Photo/Kin Cheung

A federal court has ruled that New York’s ban on nunchaku violates Second Amendment rights under the Constitution.

Plaintiff and State University of New York’s Maritime College Professor James Maloney was charged with possession of the illegal weapon in his home all the way back in 2000. Since then, he has appealed his way to the Supreme Court over what he believed was an unconstitutional restriction. Apparently, the court agrees.

The 44-year-old ban on the traditional Okinawan weapon hails from a time when people feared the youth would be violently corrupted by martial arts movies. Chen’s ruling said the law “arose out of a concern that, as a result of the rising popularity ‘of ‘Kung Fu’ movies and shows,′ ‘various circles of the state’s youth’ — including ‘muggers and street gangs’ — were ‘widely’ using nunchaku to cause ‘many serious injuries.’”

But Friday’s ruling by Judge Pamela Chen will overturn the dated law. And while Maloney was only really concerned with excising the part about private ownership, Chen decided that the law itself was a violation of the Second Amendment.

Maloney said that part of his motivation was sheer outrage. “How could a state simply ban any and all possession of a weapon that had a long and proud history as a martial-arts weapon, with recreational, therapeutic and self-defense utility,” he asked. He told the Associated Press that “perhaps the most amazing thing” was getting more than he asked for.

Free of this nearly two-decade legal battle, Maloney plans to teach his sons “Shafan Ha Lavan,” a martial arts discipline he created himself for use with nunchaku.


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