Brass knuckles have been around for centuries. The laws regulating their use have been around a long time, too.

Those laws change depending on the owner’s exact location. For example, while not expressly forbidden to possess in the United States, some state and local governments have laws around their use.

Below is a look at some of those laws. But first, a quick look at how brass knucks became so popular.

The Popularity of Brass Knuckles

Brass knuckles effectively focus the force of a blow. They have a rich history. Most experts date the use of brass knuckles to Greek and Roman fighters. The Roman hand guard or glove, called the caestus, is often considered the first use of brass knuckles.

However, Sikhs in the 18th century also had a brass knuckle-type weapon called Sher Panja. In the somewhat murky history of the origins of brass knuckles, some consider this the first example.

In the United States, soldiers used the Mark I Trench Knife equipped with brass knuckles. A similar knife was issued to soldiers in World War II. After the war, civilians wanted them, as well. Movies also popularized them as a powerful tool when caught in a situation where you must fight.

However, some political leaders and law enforcement officials saw them as dangerous. By the mid to late 20th century, many areas had established laws on brass knuckle use.

Laws In the U.S.

Some states have made brass knuckles illegal. They include California, Illinois, Michigan and Vermont, according to Reference.com. Even Texas, which typically has more lax laws on weapons, has made possession, manufacturing or sale of brass knuckles illegal.

However, in most states, they remain legal. For example, South Carolina only makes them illegal if they are used with the intention of committing a crime.

Most states treat knucks as a concealed weapon. That means carrying them may require a permit, such as it would with any concealed weapon. There are typically age requirements, as well, as with any concealed weapon.

Some knuckles also are sold as a necklace or other kind of jewelry or accessory. Laws vary in different states on the legality of such items.

The bottom line: It pays off to research the laws in your area and find out if you can possess brass knuckles. Also, be sure to find out what type of permit the local or state government might require you to obtain.