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Thread: Virginia Court of Appeals declares Scuba Knife not a weapon

  1. #1
    Regular Member Repeater's Avatar
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    Johnathan Wesley McMillan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (unpublished 03/17/2009)

    Applying that framework here, we must first determine whether the knife McMillan possessed is one of the items enumerated in Code § 18.2-308(A). Plainly, it is not.

    For an item "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.’ "

    A scuba knife is a safety device and a tool. See Karen Berger, Scuba Diving: A Trailside Guide 70 (2000) ("Diving knives are not defensive weapons; they are tools. Knives are useful for disentangling yourself from sea vegetation or fishing lines. You can use them to pry something loose or to dig, making sure not to harm aquatic life. ...") Like a kitchen knife and a box cutter, a scuba diver’s knife was not designed for fighting purposes nor is it commonly understood to be a weapon. Because a diver’s knife is not a weapon, the three-step inquiry ends here.

    Though a scuba diver’s knife is potentially dangerous, Code § 18.2-308(A) does not proscribe concealment of all potentially dangerous items. This Court must strictly construe penal statutes and, as such, reverse McMillan’s conviction for possession of a concealed weapon by a convicted felon.
    Guess it's okay to carry, then.

  2. #2
    Newbie W.E.G.'s Avatar
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    The Virginia appellate courts had really screwed-up the knife laws in VA until just recently.

    Glad to see them on the retreat now.

  3. #3
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    Repeater wrote:
    Johnathan Wesley McMillan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (unpublished 03/17/2009)

    Though a scuba diver’s knife is potentially dangerous, Code § 18.2-308(A) does not proscribe concealment of all potentially dangerous items. This Court must strictly construe penal statutes and, as such, reverse McMillan’s conviction for possession of a concealed weapon by a convicted felon.
    Hmmm, do you think a convicted felon could carry a flare-gun?

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