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.
In some states, brass knuckles are legal. For example, lawmakers in Texas lifted a ban on brass knuckles in September 2019.
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.
If I have a knife with a handguard of brass knuckles,
Can I wear it on my gun belt in Arizona?
Thanks for the question, but you’ll have to consult your lawyer on that.
That is what is called a trench knife and they are typically restricted to Military Personnel ONLY. Again state by state laws very. But seeing as how they are commonly spiked metal knuckles with a fulltang KBAR blade, I can only imagine most states prohibit such weapons or require registration and secured storage of such weapons.
Brass knuckles are known as one of the most effective self defense weapons. That is why you should ponder on the question that are brass knuckles illegal before buying them. Brass knuckles are legal in some of the states while in other they are illegal and heavy charges are pressed against the person who violates these laws.
self defense? more like one of the most effective ASSAULT weapons. If you want effective self-defense, get a high voltage flashlight and a pepper spray.
I don’t mean to be contradictory, but part of my job has involved being subject to the same pepper spray and tasers that I would be carrying. Pepper spray hurts like hell, no doubt about it. And it can definitely compromise your sight, but sufficient rage in an attacker can overcome the pain and vision deficit, at least for a short while. Tasers are indeed effective at putting someone down, but the probes are incredibly inaccurate. Both must penetrate the attacker’s flesh to operate properly, and a thick sweater or jacket is all that’s needed to keep the probes from penetrating.
I am a proponent of less-than-lethal ammunition, such as beanbag rounds in shotguns and rubber bullets in firearms. But their use requires a completely different mindset. You can and will kill someone with a rubber projectile if you revert to your normal firearms training and aim for the sternum, throat, or skull. So, their use still requires significant training. A whip made from a spring that can feed through the belt loops is an extremely painful deterrent, and the solid handle can deliver punishing damage using the hammer system.
But the sad fact is that you’re generally better off killing your attacker than not. In doing so, you prevent them from being able to give testimony against you. This varies by states, if course, but most south of the Mason-Dixson tend to be proponents of deadly force, usually with a firearm. In my home state, for example, I can openly carry brass knuckles sans weapons permit, and conceal them with a weapons permit. Trained as a boxer, personally, and possessing and extremely long reach, brass knuckles would be effective at augmenting my training while still limiting me to only people within arm’s reach. If someone approaches with ill intent, they are an attacker by dint of me simply holding my ground until they come close enough to strike. That is typically seen as self-defense. The whacky thing is that, while I can carry knuckles, and I can use them in self defense, which would exonerate me of violent charges, the very fact that I used brass knuckles at all is in itself a seperate crime with which I could be charged.
On the other hand, I have a pair of black leather gloves intended for mild cold. And I have stitched chainmail over the back, knuckles, and backs of the fingers. I then epoxied layers of craft-use brass together after shaping them to fit and painting them black. After drilling holes, I linked them over the chainmail so they overlapped like wood siding. I literally made gloves into brass knuckles, but wearing them is not considered brandishing since gloves are meant to be worn. And they can be used for defensive purposes in the same fashion as brass knuckles without them being classified as such. I worked as an Army MP for a long while, and all it’s taught me is that laws are arbitrary since people can only be made to follow the letter of the law, not the spirit of it. Best just to get a weapons permit, practice religiously with a conceal carry handgun, develop RoE according to state laws, keep a defense attorney on retainer, and keep their card as well as that of a bail bondsman in your wallet.
You seem like you know your local laws, but just in case you missed this in your state (as I do not know which state in the South, where I also live, you are in), in some states the law that makes using brass knuckles in a fight are not written with the words brass knuckles. Instead they are written as metal brandished as a weapon or metal used by the hand as a weapon or metal covering the hand as a weapon, etc. What I am saying is, your modified gloves in most states where BK are legal, but there is a separate law for using them in a fight are written this way for the very reason as to what you made; so that someone can not get around it. You might want to check and see if there is a statute about this. It sometimes gets missed or is misinterpreted as meaning ONLY BK or items that were made of metal to be used as a weapon. Also, in some cases where you would argue that the gloves are worn for other purposes and would not fall under the metal law, you would have an uphill battle, since you modified them. You would have to have a reason as to why you modified them that any reasonable (reasonable is the legal term generally used for your average citizen…kinda) person would consider it as not a use for a weapon, but for the intended other use that you stated. Just check, as I know of someone who did the same thing (it sounds like you and I may have been in a similar profession or dealt with similar situations that we needed to particular training and knowledge for) that I worked with and he got charged. And it was a state with the laws that it appears your state has. He was sentenced to three years and lost his job, as he lost clearance…luckily for him he won his appeal as the DA made a HUGE error and they declined to prosecute again, but it took him two more years to get his clearance back. Anyways, because of how the laws were written and he modified his gloves they are able to prove that he essentially made BKs and was trying to circumnavigate the law, so there was NO other intended use for the gloves than to be used as BKs. Know that I am not at all criticizing you create these gloves; I actually applied the ingenuity. I just don’t want to see you end up in the same boat as my friend. He wasn’t working at the time, so that didn’t help. If he had been, he may have been ok; but that was a gray area and we never got a straight answer on that…of course what else do you expect from the government. Lol Just look into it, even if you think you are ok and have asked before. I would ask a lawyer that works in that area or better yet the DAs office, if you know someone you can trust to give you a straight answer. Someone higher up the food chain in law enforcement usually can answer that for you; but better to ask the DA, as law enforcement may see it as you do and I he DA’s office interprets the law differently and that is what really matters. Even if it is a gray area and one that DAs may or may not go that way, you should know; as those are the worst, because there is NO clear law protecting you. Look at how the BK law in use in an altercation is written, look at the wording and then remember, it may be able to be proven in a court of law that you MADE a pair of BKs, even if you see them as gloves. All it takes is for an overzealous police officer and a DA wanting to feed his or her ego or are a self righteous proponent against weapons. I’ve rambled on long enough. I think you see what I getting at. It is always better to be safe that sorry; especially in the type of work I suspect you are in.
Oh, good stuff on your break down of different types of non-lethal and how to use them and their pros and cons. I too am one that prefers non-lethals unless absolutely necessary to go any other way. I was part of a group that engaged groups that used child soldiers and we specialized in non-lethals. Part of a fledging program through the UN in Africa, so that we could engage. It was a way “around” RoE (not really around, just allowed for a different set…way too much to go into here and honestly I really wouldn’t want to), we had an immense amount of success; unfortunately, they disbanded the program, when the powers that be decided not to continue funding it. It was a real shame as I think creating multiple units or teams/groups as they referred to us would have had an impact. Lasted just under 18 months and my team, unit, group, whatever the hell we were called that day (it was kind of a running joke with us…are we going to be a class next week, how bout a pod, oh oh maybe we can be a band next time we go out in the field) ended up being the only one that was put into the field ( there was another being trained, that we were working with, but the whole thing ended before they were ever activated, for loss of the proper word at the moment). So, I appreciate your view on engaging a threat. Yes, sometimes you do need to go right for the jugular; but that shouldn’t be your reflexive response. Anyways, I hope you are ok with your gloves. I should mention one more thing. Since you used, what I am assuming is your actual name, the info you typed out can be interpreted that you were trying to circumnavigate the BK law, therefore your intended purpose of the gloves was to take the place of BK, which makes them BK and your gloves were no longer intended to be used just as gloves, to be used in the manner of gloves only, and are no longer JUST a pair of gloves. I went to school for law (decided not to finish, as I didn’t want to sell my soul lol), so my brain works in a different way when viewing things like this. So when I say this is how a DA would look at it and try to present it, it is. Hope you had a great Fourth Of July. Cheers.
FLASHLIGHT?! Just make sure you don’t get assaulted in the daytime Lol
I got arrested for brass knuckles in. North dakota and thay are charging me with having a firearm and having a firearm conseled
so what is the law around brass knuckles in the state of ky…I’ve never had a felony and i bought a set of world 1 issue knuckles to show my dad and the cops saw them and locked my ass up. now i have a court date
Every state and even counties and cities have varying laws.
You would need to research your local and state laws on brass knuckles to find the answers to your questions.
“Kentucky requires a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon anywhere other than on one’s own property. Deadly weapons include firearms, knives, billy clubs, and brass knuckles.”
What were your charges? They are legal in Ky with a concealed deadly weapons permit, and Ky passed a law that eliminated the requirement of a permit to concealed carry that went into effect June 28. I was told this covers all deadly weapons, but you still can’t carry anywhere you couldn’t carry a concealed weapon before.
Not anymore as of July 2019, Kentucky no longer requires conceal permits. If you’re at least 21 and can legally own with/ without permit, it is anything goes.
I’ll take “Something That Never Happened” for six hundred dollars Alex. Get real pansy. The only way you’d get locked up for having brass knuckles is if you used brass knuckles in a state where they are illegal. Do you really expect a group of grown men are going to believe that you were thrown in jail because a cop SAW you with them? You can be holding onto an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile and unless it’s stolen, all a cop if going to do is confiscate it from you.
Didn’t know you have met every cop in the United states to be judging if a cop will do this or not.
You must be a white man to think that you could be holding on the a missile and unless its stolen, all a cip is going to do is confiscate it from you. Must be nice to be a white man in america. You guys can get away with killing as long as your victim wasn’t white.
I’ve seen people locked up for stupider reasons. You see, when a white man self defend himself against a robber and accidentally kills the robber, he doesnt get locked up. But when a black man self defends himself against a robber and accidentally kills the robber, he gets 28 years in prison and convicted of second degree murder at the age of 18. And this is a true event of someone I know personally. People get murdered by cops for a can of soda they were thought to have stolen and turns out they didnt. People get murdered by cops for the cops thinking they have fake money and it turns out they didnt. Yet, they take a mass shooter out alive and put a bullet proof vest on and stop by Burger King and get him a burger on the way to the station.
Not all cops are bad, but there are bad cops. Not all cops are crooked, but there are crooked cops. Not all cops are petty, but there are petty cops. Not all cops arrest for the smallest thing and abuse their power and arrest anyone they can, but there are cops like that. Not all cops are sexist, but there are sexist cops. Not all cops are racist, but there are racist cops. Not all cops are rapist, but there are rapist cops. Not all cops are killers, but there are killer cops. Not all cops are good, not all cops are bad. Cops are not gods. Cops are not above the law. Cops are not robots. They are human and capable of anything and everything a citizen is capable of. The only difference is cops get away with it and only some citizens get away with it.
White guys are miistraeted and KIOLLED by police but it doesn’t get the press. Naturally polioce only go after white CRIMINALS. This doesm’t mget the press. Very common in NYC, where there 2 classes of people COPS and perps.JOHN
It’s true that not all white dudes get a pass , I’m white and a cop magnet! I get constantly harassed by police here in California.
It’s true that police kill Innocent people damn near daily, regardless of what color we are, sadly it’s less of a news story when it’s a Caucasian. The police have been beating citizens for years black ,brown or white and it’s finally being realized and we need to continue to keep working TOGETHER , all colors as one, to end police brutality
Hey MayB: I don’t disagree with your position. I just retired from a State Police force in the Northeast after 22 years. But your comments are somewhat slanted. Yes, there are bad cops. I’ve seen and had to work with them. But, there are bad plumbers, bad doctors and dentists any bad anything else you can think of. But until you’ve strapped on a pistol, taser, OC spray and baton and manned a patrol in a killing zone of a public housing project in the blackest night, I don’t think you have the creds to judge the actions of LEOs. Walk a 100 miles in my duty boots, and then I’ll have more respect for your opinions.
AMEN!!!! THANK YOU FOR SAYING WHAT WE ALL FEEL!!! THANK YOU!!!
You have never lived in a mix or mainly white community/area….you are clueless…
Wrong. Just . . . all kinds of wrong in your statenent.
You’d be incorrect to assume so. a friend of mine was pulled over and arrested on misdemeanor charges for brass knuckles. I live in Houston and this was a few years ago but still…
That is not true,look up,” brass knucle laws in California” it specifically statess,” NO ONE MAY POSESS,OWN, MAKE,USE,CARRY, FOR ANY REASON A SET OF METAL OR BRASS KNUCKLES IN THIS STATE” IF YOU DO,THE D.A. DECIDES FELONY/MIS. AN MIS.IS ONE YR CO. JAIL,$10,000 FINE,
FEL. 3 YRS PRISON, $100,000 FINE…
First things first, I got arrested for just simply “having” brass knuckles, I just got them an hour earlier on my way home in Texas from a gun and knive show I was arrested for “prohibited weapon” while I sped 6mph over the limit and allowed some cop search my car (should not have) and yup went to jail for prohibited weapons, so yes you can goto jail for them and yes in Texas, and Texas is a conservative state to, so I sure hope noone just believes someone that doesn’t have a clue such as yourself, there are loopholes but asking an attorney is something you should definitely do, I got the record to prove it also which I will not be posting here, 35 years later that record is still there.
I live in Indiana and I have a gun permit. If I wish could I carry brass knuckles instead of a gun?
You can carry brass knuckles in Indiana without having to have a permit.
In ky there are regulated like a pistol so dont conceale them unless your 21
I find it so ironic that in Michigan I can walk down main street with an AK47 over my shoulder loaded and a .357 magnum on my hip open carry and that is 100% legal (I’m pro gun so don’t take that wrong…just pointing out the irony) but if I even own knucks I go to prison for a year. I mean , I gotta be pretty close to use em , my .357 on the other hand , I can get some distance with that and even more with my AK. But only the knucks get me prison. They even legalized switchblades last year (christ that took to damn long). I bought knucks when I lived in a legal state , bought a switchy in the same state. Moved literally less than 30 miles for a job and both became felonies. Sometimes states laws are far more of a god damn mess than they should be.
Here in the great state of Arizona, without a permit necessary, you can carry a loaded handgun concealed or open, a switch blade OC or CC, and yes, brass knuckles, all without having to ask the permission of the state or any other entity of law enforcement. What’s more, the above applies to any law abiding citizen ( not a convicted felon or otherwise prohibited individual) at least 21 yrs old, whether a state resident or not, can carry CC or OC.
Are brass knuckles legal in the state of Ohio.!!! IF YOU HAVE A CCW GUN PERMIT CAN THIS BE USED FOR BRASS KNUCKLES ALSO .
Please check your state and local law and/or consult with your attorney. The blog is for general informational purposes only, and not intended to provide legal counsel.
Yay that means that i get brass knuckles since they are legal in South Carolina only if its not for crime. Thatnks for the info. :)
We are not a legal entity and do not advise on legal matters. Please check with your state and local laws. The blog is for informational purposes only.
Texas just made them legal again.
Brass knuckles are legal now as of September first 2019 in Texas to possess.
This article needs updating. It states ” Even Texas, which typically has more lax laws on weapons, has made possession, manufacturing or sale of brass knuckles illegal ” Not true. It is legal to possess brass knuckles in Texas as of September 1, 2019. Update needed!
I noticed that in WV it looks like it is legal, I don’t really carry them but instead carry a baton which I’ve got mixed answers for. I have a concealed carry permit (though no longer needed) and WAS also in Corrections to which I was trained with them.
Know this was about brass knuckles but batons seem to be a better deterrent in case of a problem.
As far as I know the earliest dated knuckles in America are those belonging to Sam Houston with his name carved into them, found in the Sam Houston schoolhouse where he was a teacher in 1812 and are currently on display at the Sam Houston schoolhouse museum. Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard carried brass knuckles in the 1860’s which are currently on display at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC.
Brass knuckles are great I’m a knife man myself but jus remember if your going hit someone with knucks you can really really do damage broken bones or worse
You 100% correct. But you can also do a lot of damage to your own hand. I own a few pair but honestly, I never carry them. A knife or a concealed handgun (a 22LR at that) is all you need. I stopped carrying either a 9mm or a .45ACP because of collateral damage.
What if they aren’t made of “brass”? MA law states “BRASS” specifically “BRASS”
I assume a good lawyer could argue AND win that case
How do I obtain a permit for brass knuckles? I live in CT and you need a permit.
does anyone think this is a good source for my school research project on brass knuckles?
AMEN!!!! THANK YOU FOR SAYING WHAT WE ALL FEEL!!! THANK YOU!!!
I have brass knuckles but I want to get rid of it. How do I do that?
LADY IN MASS. CAUGHT WITH KNUCKS , TOOK IT TO THE SUPREME , WHO SAID ALL BEARABLE ARMS ARE PROTECTED. (KNUCKS , ASSAULT WEAPONS, KNIVES, PISTOLS, ETC)
SUPREME COURT JAIME CAETANO v. MASSACHUSETTS = The Court has held that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,”