AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 446 into law over the weekend, making it legal to carry brass knuckles, key chains (usually shaped like animals with pointy ears), clubs, and other self-defense items.
The bill carried unanimously in both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate.
HB 446 removes “knuckles” from a group of weapons banned in a previous law that made it illegal to possess, manufacture, transport or sell a list of things that range from improvised explosive devices to homemade guns.
According to Texas Penal Code, knuckles are defined as “any instrument that consists of finger rings or guards made of a hard substance and that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with a fist enclosed in the knuckles.”
Rep. Joe Moody, a Democratic legislator from El Paso, sponsored the bill along with eight other male representatives; including North Texans John Wray (R-Waxahachie) and Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford).
Moody told the Texas Standard that the bill was meant to protect people who wanted to protect themselves.
“A young woman who has a keychain for self defense, certainly fits the statute of knuckles,” he said. ” And she was arrested for that.”
Those types of arrests are “certainly antithetical to our rights to self defense,” Moody added.
Up to this point, possessing knuckles was a class A misdemeanor punishable for up to a year in jail or by a maximum fine of $4,000, according to a bill summary published by the House Research Organization.
Supporters of the bill argued “knuckles are primarily a defensive tool,” the summary says, and shouldn’t be associated with “explosive weapons, machine guns, and other prohibited weapons.”
The law comes after lawmakers previously removed switchblades from that same banned list in 2013.
“Law abiding Texans who carry knuckles, perhaps as part of a novelty key chain, should not be vulnerable to jail time for possessing a legitimate self defense tool,” the summary says.
The bill goes into effect on September 1.
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