Texas Self-defense Bill Legalizes Carrying Brass Knuckles in Public

Brass knuckles
[File photo] Close-up of a display of brass knuckles in Washington DC, 2010. Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

Texas legalized carrying self-defense items such as brass knuckles and clubs in a new bill just passed.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed off House Bill 446 over the weekend, paving the way for it to come into effect from September 1.

The bill, tabled by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) makes it legal to carry brass knuckles, so-called "Wild Kat" keychains and other self-defense items in public.

On 9 April, the Texas House of Representatives passed the bill with a 147-0 vote—one representative abstained and two were absent—before it was then passed unanimously by the Senate with a 31-0 vote on May 15.

Openly carrying rifles and handguns in Texas is legal and in 2017 lawmakers revoked a ban on carrying knives in public that had stood in place for 145 years. Brass knuckles, however, remained illegal, and owning self-defense items such as pronged keychains was considered a class A misdemeanor.

The offense carried the risk of being punished with up to a year in jail and as much as $4,000 in fines.

"We did it with switchblades," Moody was quoted as saying by The Dallas Morning News earlier this month.

"We did it with knives and now with knuckles.

"Hopefully, now, with this on the way to the governor, we can ensure these types of laws aren't being used inappropriately to go after folks who have legitimate tools of self-defense."

According to figures released by the Texas Department of Public Safety, 93 people were convicted for breaching the brass knuckle ban in 2017.

Moody said the number highlighted a disproportionately high number of people were being charged simply for carrying self-defense items. The Democrat, who has represented the 78th District since 2013, pointed to the bill as proof Texas had taken strides to modernize its legislation.

"We aren't living in West Side Story," he told The Texas Standard.

"Maybe at one point this was used to identify criminal elements, but it's just not the case anymore."

Earlier this month, Texas Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), said the bill underlined the state's commitment to the Second Amendment.

"For me, the Second Amendment is really about the right to exist and I think that everyone has the right to defend themselves," Stickland, who co-authored House Bill 446, was quoted as saying by Fox 7.

"I think it sends a good message and the Texas House has always tried to work across the aisle whenever we can, a lot different than D.C."