Often when a person digs into the reasoning behind the enactment of any certain law, they find a solid, commonsense reason which justifies a limitation of the citizenry’s freedom. …But sometimes the reason just makes you laugh. According to an article published in LA Weekly in 2012, California criminalized the possession of nunchucks (as defined in Penal Code section 16940 as “an instrument consisting of two or more sticks, clubs, bars, or rods to be used as handles, connected by a rope, cord, wire, or chain, in the design of a weapon used in connection with the practice of a system of self-defense such as karate”)—to the tune of making it a felony—in 1974 in response to the sudden rise in the public’s interest in martial arts films, noting that at that time “the United States was in the kung-fu grip of a martial arts craze. Sparked by the 1973 release of Bruce Lee's Enter The Dragon and spurred by such pop phenomena as the TV series Kung Fu and the song “Kung Fu Fighting,” martial arts fever was spiking, along with a faddish interest in martial arts weapons.
“Menaced by the trend, Newsweek published a sensational article on nunchucks, called “Killing Sticks.” The article's alarm bells prompted lawmakers around the country to contemplate bans, but only New York, Massachusetts, Arizona and California followed through, with then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signing California's bill into law.”
The following year, a small exception was carved out of the law, allowing the possession of the “weapons” at a martial arts academy.
In 2022, however, via the passage of SB 827, California finally did away with the prohibition of the possession of these “weapons” be removing reference to nunchaku in the list of “generally prohibited weapons” within the state and from the list of crimes from which a Plaintiff may bring an action of enjoin as being a nuisance.
If you are being charged with a weapons-based offense in the Northern San Francisco Bay Area and need to consult with an attorney, feel free to reach out to Devina.
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