In case anybody wants to know WHY Albo is trying to make boxcutters illegal t9o carry concealed, here's the real story. Seems somebody got away with something :what:and now Albo wants to close off that "loophole."
In response to Albo's fascist bill, HB 169
, I'm going to buy one of these box cutters and carry it around with me, concealed
Pay attention to the highlighting in red near the very end, OK?
In Farrakhan, we set forth the analytical framework for deciding whether an item falls within the reach of Code § 18.2-308(A)
: If the . . . item in question meets the definition of an enumerated item within Code § 18.2-308(A)
, the evidence is clearly sufficient for a conviction under the statute. Additionally, if the . . . item is not enumerated, concealment of the item may be proscribed by Code § 18.2-308(A)
if it is a "weapon of like kind." However, before examination of similar physical characteristics to enumerated items, the item in question must first be a "weapon.". .. . . Upon establishing that the item in question is a "weapon," the analysis continues to determine if the item possesses such similar characteristics to the enumerated items in the Code § 18.2-308(A)
such that its concealment is prohibited. Id. at 182, 639 S.E.2d at 230.
Relying on the decision of the Court of Appeals in O'Banion, the Commonwealth contends that the subject box cutter qualifies as one of the enumerated items in Code § 18.2-308(A)
, i.e., a razor. In O'Banion, the defendant, like Harris, was carrying concealed a box cutter described as "a cutting instrument that holds a razor blade." 33 Va. App. at 59, 531 S.E.2d at 605. Employing the dictionary definition of the term "razor," the Court of Appeals concluded that, "by incorporating a razor blade, the box cutter combine[d] the fine-edged sharpness of a straight razor with the retracting capacity of a locked-blade knife." Id. at 60, 531 S.E.2d at 605....We do not agree with the Commonwealth's position...
The current dictionary definition of the term "razor" refers to both a straight razor and a safety razor. See supra note 3 and accompanying text. A box cutter is neither; it is defined as "a small cutting tool that is designed for opening cardboard boxes and typically consists of a retractable razor blade in a thin metal sheath." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 148 (11th ed. 2004). Furthermore, when a razor was added to the list of items that could not lawfully be carried concealed, see 1884 Acts ch. 143, the term "razor" was defined as "a knife with a keen edge and broad back, used for shaving." A Dictionary of the English Language 828 (1885); see also A Dictionary of the English Language 1187 (1880) (defining the term "razor" as "[a] knife or instrument for shaving off beard or hair"). Because we must strictly construe penal statutes, see Farrakhan, 273 Va. at 182, 639 S.E.2d at 230, we hold the subject box cutter is not a razor within the meaning of Code § 18.2-308(A)
. See In re Michael R., 16 Cal. Rptr. 3d 291, 292-93 (Cal. Ct. App. 2004) (holding that a box cutter did not constitute a "razor with an unguarded blade" and was therefore not a weapon under the California statute at issue). Merely because a box cutter contains a sharp-edged, razor-type blade that is retractable does not mean that a box cutter meets the definition of the item "razor" enumerated in Code § 18.2-308(A)
. To the extent that the decision in O'Banion is inconsistent with this holding, it is overruled.
The analysis, however, does not end at this juncture. As we explained in Farrakhan, even if an item is not one of the items enumerated in Code § 18.2-308(A)
, concealment of the item may still be prohibited if it is a "weapon of like kind." Code § 18.2-308(A)
. The item must first be a "weapon." If it is not, the analysis ends, and it is not necessary to compare the item's characteristics to those of the enumerated items to decide if it is "of like kind."
In Farrakhan, we held "that in order to be a 'weapon' within the definition of 'weapon of like kind,' the item must be designed for fighting purposes or commonly understood to be a 'weapon.'" 273 Va. at 182, 639 S.E.2d at 230. Like the kitchen knife at issue in that case, the box cutter that Harris was carrying concealed was not designed for fighting purposes. Nor can we say that a box cutter is commonly understood to be a weapon. As reflected by its dictionary definition, a box cutter is designed to open cardboard boxes. Therefore, we hold that the subject box cutter is not a " 'weapon' within the definition of 'weapon of like kind.' " Id.; see also Holley v. State, 877 So.2d 893, 896 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2004) (holding that a box cutter is not a "deadly weapon" under the Florida statute at issue).
We are keenly aware that a box cutter is a potentially dangerous instrumentality and has, in fact, been used as such in the past. It is, however, the role of the General Assembly, not this Court, to craft any needed revisions to Code § 18.2-308(A) and to decide what items to include within the statute's proscription
. We are required to construe Code § 18.2-308(A)
strictly against the Commonwealth and to confine the statute to those offenses clearly proscribed by its plain terms. See Harward v. Commonwealth, 229 Va. 363, 365, 330 S.E.2d 89, 90 (1985) (penal statutes "cannot be extended by implication but must be confined to those offenses proscribed by the language employed"). Harris, like any defendant, "is entitled to the benefit of any reasonable doubt about the construction of a penal statute." Martin v. Commonwealth, 224 Va. 298, 300-01, 295 S.E.2d 890, 892 (1982)."
*edited for readability