Justice At Last: New York’s Ban On Nunchucks Has Been Ruled Unconstitutional

Until such time as we have created for ourselves a perfect utopian state, we must all of us live with the knowledge that some form of injustice is happening somewhere. Something that runs contrary to our deepest held beliefs is being perpetrated either with the sanction of the state or due to inaction on the state’s part. One of the cruel jokes of human existence is that while you personally can live according to your values, you are often powerless to see those values violated over and over by society at large. All we can do is take comfort from the small victories, when a glaring wrong is finally made right and, as a result, the world made a better place. Today we can do this, with the news that a Brooklyn federal court ruled that the state of New York‘s ban on nunchucks is unconstitutional.

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Under New York penal law, a person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth
degree if they possess any of the following: “electronic dart gun, electronic stun gun, gravity knife, switchblade knife, pilum ballistic knife, metal knuckle knife, cane sword, billy, blackjack, bludgeon, metal knuckles, chuka stick, sand bag, sandclub, wrist-brace type slingshot or slungshot, shirken or ‘Kung Fu star’“. A ‘chuka stick’ being the chained weapon that we would refer to as nunchucks or nunchaku.

As the Associated Press is reporting, the ruling came about thanks to a case brought forward in 2003 by James Maloney, who was charged with having nunchucks in his home in 2000. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court in 2010. Himself a law professor that practices maritime law, Maloney is currently representing another plaintiff in a separate case “challenging New York’s criminalization of the peaceful possession of nunchaku in one’s own home“, that case had been put on hold pending the outcome of Maloney’s own case.

While Maloney just wanted to be able to have nunchucks in his own home, the judge ruled last week that broader changes had to be made, determining the bans on their manufacture, transport, and disposal all to be unconstitutional.

The laws against their possession were put in place in the mid-70s, amidst the rising popularity of Kung Fu movies, which seemingly sparked an uptick in the criminal use of Kung Fu movie–adjacent weaponry.

Maloney told the court that part of the reason he wanted his nunchucks was so that he could teach his sons Shafan Ha Lavan, a martial art that he made up.