District Judge: Billy Clubs Protected by Second Amendment

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 31: A police officer holds a nightstick while monitoring a Veterans
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U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez issued a decision Thursday striking down California’s ban on billy clubs, noting the less-lethal weapons are protected by the Second Amendment.

Benitez approached the case through the lense of the Supreme Court of the United States’ Bruen (2022) decision, seeking historical precedent for controls and/or bans on billy clubs.

He found “no billy club laws before the Civil War” and that, in the years immediately following the Civil War, “a billy was the subject of seven state laws and one territorial law.”

Benitez noted that in the late 1800s the situation remained unchanged with only seven states having billy club laws and by the early 20th century only one state, California, banned billy clubs.

He expressed frustration with California’s “expert” in the case, claiming the “expert” used imprecise language in trying to describe the history of billy club laws:

It makes it difficult to properly perform the Bruen analysis when the State’s expert who has studied gun regulations for thirty years is imprecise in his language, and when the State’s briefing employs a mischaracterization. After all, the subject of the regulatory “what and when” is the central historical tradition inquiry under Bruen. More importantly, it is the government’s central burden to show a national tradition of regulation by reference to state laws and court decisions in effect during the most important historical time period.

Benitez then pointed out that once he got past the imprecise language it was evident that there was not a tradition against billy clubs, sufficient to satisfy Bruen: “As it turns out, there is nothing. Though given lots of opportunity to do so, the State has not shown a tradition of prohibiting the simple possession of a billy during the most important historical time period. There is no genuine issue of material fact.”

He concluded:

The Second Amendment protects a citizen’s right to defend one’s self with dangerous and lethal firearms. But not everybody wants to carry a firearm for self-defense. Some prefer less-lethal weapons. A billy is a less-lethal weapon that may be used for self-defense. It is a simple weapon that most anybody between the ages of eight and eighty can fashion from a wooden stick, or a clothes pole, or a dowel rod. One can easily imagine countless citizens carrying these weapons on daily walks and hikes to defend themselves against attacks by humans or animals. To give full life to the core right of self-defense, every law-abiding responsible individual citizen has a constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms like the billy for lawful purposes.

The case is Fouts v. Bonta in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a pro-staffer for Pulsar Night Vision. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010 and holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com


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