As an American, I believe I have the God-given Constitutional right to bear nunchucks and beat the ever-loving stuffing out of anyone who looks at me crossways.
After writing that, I realized that beating the ever-loving stuffing out of anyone who looks at me crossways is considered assault in many instances, but I am happy to report that a federal court agrees with me on my right to bear nunchucks.
First, for those who were not children of the 1970s ingesting a steady diet of badly dubbed kung-fu movies on Saturday afternoons, here is a definition of nunchucks – or technically nunchaku -- according to the Encyclopedia Britannica of the 21st century, Wikipedia: “…a traditional Okinawan martial arts weapon consisting of two sticks connected at one end by a short chain or rope. The two sections of the weapon are commonly made out of wood, while the link is a cord or a metal chain.”
Back in 1974, two sticks of wood connected by a cord or a metal chain were considered so dangerous in New York that state lawmakers decided ban them.
According to a December story from The Associated Press, the source I turn to for information about government overregulation of cheap martial arts equipment, a recent court ruling overturning the 1974 ban said it originally came “out of a concern that, as a result of the rising popularity ‘of ‘Kung Fu’ movies and shows,’ ‘various circles of the state’s youth’ — including ‘muggers and street gangs’ — were ‘widely’ using nunchaku to cause ‘many serious injuries.’”
Let’s take a quick look back what was going on in 1973, just prior to the 1974 New York nunchucks ban. Some of the movies released that year and seen by various circles of the state’s youth include “Enter the Dragon,” “Snake Fist Fighter” and “The Blood Brothers, (AKA ‘Dynasty of Blood’)” in which, according to the IMDB summary, “Assassin Chang and his brother Hung meet up with a soldier, Mu. Together, they form a small mountain army, but when Hung's wife arrives, emotions swell, and Mu leaves for the army… (and) treason forces Hung to take up arms against his former comrade.”
Still, some concerned lawmaker must have given an impassioned speech like this at the state capital:
“My fellow legislators, I come to you today to warn you that various circles of the state’s youth — including muggers and street gangs – are soon to be eschewing the traditional weapons of guns and knives in favor of this scourge from the East – nunchucks, as depicted in depraved movies where the words do not match the mouths of actors, films with such names as ‘The Blood Brothers,’ which sources inform me is filled with swelling emotions and treason.
“Why, the very word itself – NUNCHUCKS -- offends my sensibilities due to its foreign origins. Just the other day, one of my constituents informed me that a young boy in her neighborhood watched a film starring an ‘actor’ – and I use that term loosely -- named Bruce Lee. The boy – a good boy prior to this -- then sawed off two pieces off his mother’s broom at the handle, connected those pieces with a string and beat his Scoutmaster half to death. This will not stand! We must ban nunchucks now and forever!”
Forever, as it turns out, was the end of 2018.
On Dec. 14, a federal judge “ruled that the state's law as it pertained to possessing nunchucks as well as to manufacturing, transporting or disposing of them was in violation of the Second Amendment,” reads the AP story.
So, if I’m ever up New York way, I advise you not to look at me crossways. You have been warned.
Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .