Stick ’em up, stick ’em up
The most dangerous you ever saw
Stick ’em up, Concealed Weapons
They oughta be against the law
– The J. Geils Band
With apologies to Peter Wolf and the rest of the J. Geils Band (I love you guys – Worcester is right down the road from where I went to school!), California’s obsessive desire to outlaw ‘weapons’ (concealed and otherwise) is ridiculous, counterproductive, obnoxious, and just plain stupid. Why? Because just about anything can be used as a weapon. Making all weapons illegal makes everything illegal, and that begins to make life ridiculous.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or so I’m told. I’m here to tell you that the hellish path that is California’s Penal Code is knee-deep with laws written by the well-intentioned but naÃ¯ve, the willfully ignorant, and the venal and shameless.
I mentioned above that just about anything can be used as a deadly weapon. Before you write that off as a lawyer’s self-serving exaggeration, here are some examples for you to consider: a cake pan, a delicious pasta dish, an amorously wielded hammer, and a rooster (!). Most of these ‘weapons’ aren’t really weapons, and most of them aren’t prohibited. Why mention them, then? Because of the hammer.
A hammer is just a tool — specifically, it is “a hand tool consisting of a solid head set crosswise on a handle and used for pounding.” Almost every household in America has a hammer; almost everyone has used one before. By definition, a hammer IS NOT A WEAPON — unless you’re a cop or a prosecutor, that is, and unless you squint a little when you read the Penal Code …
Penal Code section 16590 (m) outlaws the possession of “a leaded cane or an instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a billy, blackjack, sandbag, sandclub, sap, or slungshot, as prohibited by Section 22210.” In other words, a stick with a weighted end or “a staff, crutch, stick, rod, pole, or similar device, unnaturally weighted with lead” is illegal. Sounds an awful lot like a hammer, doesn’t it? Of course, your hammer probably has a steel head, not a lead head – maybe that’s enough of a technicality to win a trial. Then again, maybe you’re driving home from the Grainger Industrial Supply in Rohnert Park with a nice new dead-blow hammer that you bought for your cousin’s birthday present when you get stuck in a sobriety checkpoint. Congratulations — you’re under arrest!
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because it is. Among the many things that have been legally classified as deadly weapons in California are bricks, bottles, chairs, lamps, cars, motorcycles, pencils, pins, and dogs.
The California approach to public safety is easy to summarize: Outlaw everything, arrest and overcharge everyone, and keep everyone on probation.
If you need some help keeping yourself safe from our benevolent protector, give me a call.