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Thread: Will police stop me if I open carry a sword?

  1. #1
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    If I open carry a 2 handed sword will police in maryland stop me?

    I want to carry a grosse messer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kj4WR...layer_embedded

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    I can't find any prohibition on OCing a sword in the MD statutes:

    http://knife-expert.com/md.txt

    The seem to only specifically prohibit knives, dirks, and the like. I cant find any specific references to blade length, or "swords"...

    However, I can tell you that I have been harassed by Montgomery County and Baltimore City police for carrying a replica 16th century rapier, in it's scabbard, wrapped up in it's hanger and belt, in my hand. At the time (both times) I was dressed in Rennaissance garb, and was walking from my car to an SCA event.

    So it's my opinion that, in the more urban areas of MD, as is the case with many things, the local LEA's don't let anything like the wording of the law, obvious intent, or the truth of a situation get in the way of their perception that anyone who is armed in any way is a criminal.

    Carrying a sword like you've indicated is probably going to get you arrested in most locations in MD. If you have a lot of time and a lot of money to volunteer to be a "Test case", then you may want to reconsider...
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    ok, so this was just a little OT, but man what a video! I really like the cut into the steel toed boot, then they tunr it side-way and you can see the roast they stuck in it! pretty impressive sword, non-the-less.


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    I will make myself a test case. I'm going to wear this sword on my back as I go through my daily life.

    I'll report back with how it goes.

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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    I hope my next post isn't an "I told you so."

    Good luck, but I think you're asking for trouble...
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Its Maryland, they will stop you and rough you up for having a water gun.
    A sword? I wish I was able to watch WJZ 13 here in Pittsburgh, because your going to be featured on it.

    The nazi MD police harassed me for having a pocket knife in my pocket, you can damn well be sure a sword is going to get you some attention.
    "Let your gun be your constant companion during your walks" ~Thomas Jefferson

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    (I am not a lawyer, what is to follow is my personal opinion and should not be relied upon. This is not legal advice.)

    First, the tl;dr:
    The question of legality here would appear to depend on whether a sword is "a penknife without a switchblade."

    Now, the why:
    Some language in the statute:
    (5) (i) "Weapon" includes a dirk knife, bowie knife, switchblade knife, star knife, sandclub, metal knuckles, razor, and nunchaku.
    (Emphasis added.)
    The use of the word "includes" rather than a word such as "is" indicates an illustrative rather than comprehensive list.

    (ii) "Weapon" does not include: 1. a handgun; or 2. a penknife without a switchblade.
    Take a note of this, it comes up in a case.

    Look at their cites for case law:
    - "For objects not legislatively classified as dangerous and
    deadly per se, the State must prove that the object is
    within the class described as any other dangerous or
    deadly weapon of any kind." (1992)
    - "Where the only evidence presented was that the object
    appellant was carrying was a knife over three inches long,
    this evidence was insufficient to meet the statutory
    requirements of this section." (1992)
    I looked up the cases. The first case is Anderson v. State, 328 Md. 426, 614 A.2d 963 (Md. 1992). The second is Johnson v. State, 90 Md.App. 638, 602 A.2d 255, (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1992).

    The first case, Anderson, is a successful appeal from a conviction - the defendant went free. The object in question was a "utility knife" and was described in a footnote of the case opinion:
    The blade of the subject utility knife is enclosed in a plastic case approximately six inches long. The blade is exposed by removing a plastic cap from one end of the case and then pushing a lever to slide the blade to an exposed position at the open end. Fully extended the blade measures three inches in length. It is three-eighths of an inch wide. Its cutting edge is on one side only. The blade is notched diagonally at three-sixteenths of an inch intervals, creating twelve sections. The blade is designed to be exposed in small increments, allowing a notched section to be broken off when it dulls. The knife can be used to cut wallcovering, dry wall, tape, string, roofing or almost any type of soft material.
    The reasoning they used to reach this reversal is not good for the OP. It focuses on intent: whether an object is for use on inanimate objects or on people. OP's sword is meant for (defensive) use on people. The opinion compares a carpenter with a cutting tool to a youth in a high crime neighborhood with the same object; the first is a tool, the second a weapon. 328 Md. at 438, 614 A.2d at 968. The case did say, however, that "penkni[ves] without [] switchblade[s]" are a per se exception - they are not weapons regardless of intent. Id. Is OP's sword a "penknife without a switchblade"?

    I do not know whether the intended defensive nature of the sword would be of much, or indeed any, assistance. I am inclined to believe that it would not. The opinion stated that "these statutes protect the wearers or carriers of weapons from themselves" and went on to describe how carrying weapons makes people a danger to themselves and others. 328 Md. at 432, 614 A.2d at 966. (It is a fairly standard discourse with an observation that having people on unequal footing can result in (potentially lethal) misbehavior, with the standard omission of consideration of the possibility that persons may be more equal and well behaved if they all have weapons instead of just the criminals. Since the like has been discussed in great length and detail in other threads, and since the only relevance to this thread is to show the mood of the court, I shall limit my commentary to the following emoticon: ) These judges are not fans of armed citizens - but after 18 years maybe they, or their replacements, have come around.

    On to Johnson v. State, 90 Md.App. 638, 602 A.2d 255, (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1992).
    The facts:
    ...[A]ppellant was the person who stole Eaton's moped in the early afternoon of September 12, 1990. Eaton testified that on that date he saw a person pushing his moped across his driveway and down the street. Eaton, who was 81 years old at the time, chased this person and said “let my bike go.” At that point, the man threw the bike at Eaton, striking him in the chest, and pulled out a knife. The man then waived the knife at Eaton and said “leave the bike alone, you s.b.” Eaton then ran from the man and called the police. Eaton's moped was later recovered at 5:00 p.m. on Earle Avenue.
    The conviction for having a weapon with intent to injure was reversed due to insufficiency of evidence. Here's the quote:

    Appellant claims the evidence established that the knife he was alleged to be carrying with intent to injure was a penknife. While the State does not agree that the *649 weapon was a penknife, it acknowledges that the only evidence presented was that the object was a knife over three inches long. This evidence is insufficient to meet the statutory requirements of Md.Code Ann., Art. 27, § 36(a) (1957, 1992 Repl.Vol.). Specifically, it is unclear whether the knife fell within the statutory exception for penknives without switchblades. The State therefore concedes, and we hold, that appellant's conviction for carrying a weapon openly with intent to injure must be reversed. Biggus v. State, 323 Md. 339, 353-54 n. 6, 593 A.2d 1060 (1991); Washington v. State, 293 Md. 465, 474-475, 445 A.2d 684 (1982); Mackall v. State, 283 Md. 100, 111, 387 A.2d 762 (1978).
    (Emphasis added.) 90 Md.App. at 648-649, 602 A.2d at 260.

    So it might not have been a weapon because it might have been a penknife that was not a switchblade. Which suggests that if the State can show that the blade was greater than three inches AND not a "a penknife without a switchblade" that there would be sufficient evidence for a conviction. Again, the question of legality would appear to depend on whether a sword is "a penknife without a switchblade."

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    Seigi,

    It was good that you looked up the case law on the matter.
    Im not sure how familiar you are with left wing fear mongering anti self defensive states, but there is a difference between what the state is supposed to do and what the state will do.

    I know I sound very pessimistic, but I have seen it time and time again.
    Courts (especially in states like MD) do NOT always "follow the rules".

    Im sure any person with knowledge of practicing law on this board can testify to the accuracy of the above statement.

    The written law is almost always black and white. But unfortunately, how the law is enforced is a very gray matter.
    "Let your gun be your constant companion during your walks" ~Thomas Jefferson

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    HAHAHA!

    Get um', get um'.

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    just got back. What a rush!

    I printed out several copies of the 2cd amendment to give to any police officers. I fastened the sword to my back with a leather strap, and went on my way. I have to take it off when I sit in the car because it's not comfortable with the sword between me and the seat.

    My first stop was at the Sheetz gas station. Filled up, went inside and bought some coffe. A few stares but everyone seemed pretty normal. The clerks didn't seem to notice at all, but they see me in there everyday. I went outside and drank the coffe on the benches. People walking by would give me a glance but that was about it.


    I leave it in the trunk of my car when I get to work.


    I get off work and go to the wies super market to get some food for dinner. Just walk up and down the isles picking up food. I walk by a lady and she says "oh my" and smiles. I check out and buy the food without any issues. Again, the clerks do not even care about the sword at all.


    Didn't have any run-ins with police. Although it is bound to happen eventually. Looking forward to tommorow.

  11. #11
    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    IYDPP, IDH

    (If You Don't Post Pictures, It Didn't Happen...)
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Dreamer wrote:
    IYDPP, IDH

    (If You Don't Post Pictures, It Didn't Happen...)
    LOL...+1 I would love to see that lady on video as you pass her by.

    I bet she was thinking...why doesn't this guy just carry a gun

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    I used to live in Maryland as a kid. I remembera high school girl getting shot for jumping out of a car, during a stop, with a bag of potato chips. Legal or not, I would seriously be worried about being shot to death by the police in Maryland.

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    Shawn
    I bet she was thinking...why doesn't this guy just carry a gun
    [/quote]

    I don't want to carry a gun. I like to carry a blade. So that's what I'm doing.

    Also I think people have forgotten what a sword is capable of in the hands of someone who can use it to it's potential. Being out of common use for hundreds of years. People probably are thinking it's a decoration.

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    "That's not a knoife, THIS is a knoife!"

    As someone who's been a practitioner of two martial arts styles involving swordwork (SCA and Kendo) I'm aware of the "potential" a live blade can have, but their ain't no way I'd make that my choice for self defense.

    But hey, to each their own.


    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLT View Post
    Him: "I carry my gun concealed"
    Me: "You're not very good at it"
    Him: "What do you mean?"
    Me: "I know you have a gun"
    End of conversation.

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    I second Dreamer. No pictures means it didn't happen.

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    turbodog. I agree about the self defense part. Not because this messer is not effective, but because my carry system does not allow a quick draw.

    Day 2 and still did not have a run in with police.

    I did the gas station and supermarket again. The sword is definitely effective at getting stares.

    At weis I was in the dairy section and a woman asked me if the sword was real. I said yes and it started off a conversation. She was very interested in the sword and wanted to see the blade. lol. I said no because that would be brandishing the weapon. She asked if it was legal and I said I'm not sure because the Maryland law is unclear. She thought the sword was very cool and it was hard to get away from her and continue shopping.

    Ironically women seem to be very interested in the sword. Other guys do not seem to care other than taking a quick look.

  18. #18
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    turbodog wrote:
    "That's not a knoife, THIS is a knoife!"

    As someone who's been a practitioner of two martial arts styles involving swordwork (SCA and Kendo) I'm aware of the "potential" a live blade can have, but their ain't no way I'd make that my choice for self defense.

    But hey, to each their own.

    I completely SECOND that, turbodog. AS a seasoned light-weapons fighter, and the #7 White Scarf in Atlantia with over 25 years of fencing, sword fighting, and period rapier research under my belt (and an actual PERIOD 16th century rapier in my collection of MANY swords, the rest of which are combat-ready repros), I feel comfortable that I can out-sword about 99% of the general public (and maybe about 50% of the SCA white scarves) but on the street, I'd MUCH rather have my Para. A sword isn't going to be much defense against even a cheap, beat-up Jennings in the hands of a crackhead...

    Guess which one is "real" (and by "real", I mean certified a genuine 16th c. German rapier...)?
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    Dreamer wrote:
    ...
    I'd MUCH rather have my Para. A sword isn't going to be much defense against even a cheap, beat-up Jennings in the hands of a crackhead...
    [/quote]

    I carry a knife which I can draw extremely fast.

    Also it depends. A man in south africa killed 3 knife wielding car thieves with a long sword. He only suffered several cuts because they were not able to get in a stab on his torso.

    And don't forget the classic (but true) tales of the wooden paddle wielder who defeated many rapier wielding wannabes with his "slow" wooden paddle.

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    I really have to disagree about rapiers. Easy of carry or quick draw maybe.

    The Italian rapier masters who came to england to tout the superiority of the rapier (and make money teaching) lost duels to the local Englishman.

    Bonetti was cut in the legs by a short sword but Bagger spared his life. And Bonnetti chose to duel with a spadone in favor of his rapier.

    Jeronimo's duel ended badly. He had a rapier and poniard but was run through the chest with the english long sword in front of his girlfriend.

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    Wow that vid was great! How much do these sell for and how much hacking can you do before the blade starts to dull?

    I liked the bamboo slicing and loved the pig being hacked up.

    Now are you going to OC near Johns Hopkins? LOL

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    Regular Member turbodog's Avatar
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    Dreamer wrote:
    I completely SECOND that, turbodog. AS a seasoned light-weapons fighter, and the #7 White Scarf in Atlantia with over 25 years of fencing, sword fighting, and period rapier research under my belt
    Not to hijack the thread, but as you seem to be seriously into the art Dreamer, do you happen to know a friend of mine by the name of Mac Brand? He's another very serious guy into period rapier.
    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLT View Post
    Him: "I carry my gun concealed"
    Me: "You're not very good at it"
    Him: "What do you mean?"
    Me: "I know you have a gun"
    End of conversation.

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    XD40coyote. The manufacturer sells it to distributors who then sell it to you. There is no official price. But you should be able to get it under $200 dollars. Mine was $190. You can buy swords on amazon, ebay.

    The sword is heat treated properly. The heat treat is more important than the type of steel (but the steel must be high carbon). It's mass produced so regular guys can afford it.

    I have not pressure tested the sword yet so I have not had to sharpen it.

    You might want a bastard sword instead of a grosse messer though. The bastard is lighter, a better stabber, and double edged.

    I have stopped carrying the sword after the 2cd day. It was too much of a pain to carry and too slow to draw.

  24. #24
    Regular Member ProShooter's Avatar
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    Will they stop you?

    Yep, probably with 2 to the chest.
    James Reynolds

    NRA Certified Firearms Instructor - Pistol, Shotgun, Home Firearms Safety, Refuse To Be A Victim
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    Instructor Bio - http://proactiveshooters.com/about-us/

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    Whenever anyone starts talking about swords as a modern Self Defense weapon, I always think of that Indiana Jones scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puUUAQWR8U4

    Interesting bit of movie trivia: this scene was NOT scripted. Jones was supposed to use his whip to take the sword out of the guys hand, but Harrison Ford was suffereing from a mild case of dysentery, and after trying to shot this scene three or four times, he improvised the gun bit in frustration, and Speilberg called it a wrap because the improv was WAY better than the scripted scene...

    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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