Brass knuckles are, without question, easily transported self-defense implements that carry a serious punch, but are they actually legal?
Given their simplicity of design, it probably isn’t surprising that brass knuckles—in some form or fashion—have existed all over the world for centuries.
Since at least the 12th century, brass knuckle-style fist enhancements have been used in India.
It was common during the Civil War for soldiers to use brass knuckles fashioned from brass, lead, cast iron, or wood. On those occasions when brass knuckles couldn’t be purchased, soldiers would often create them on their own—either carving them from wood, or casting them from melted lead in molds made from earth.
The US Army, during World War I, actually issued two different trench knives with brass knuckles incorporated in the handle. And, by World War II, brass knuckles and “knuckle knives” were enthusiastically in use by both British and American soldiers.
Modern-day brass knuckles haven’t seen many revolutionary design changes—and the most important factor regarding brass knuckles these days is whether they’re legal in your jurisdiction.
WHAT BRASS KNUCKLES DO
There’s a reason brass knuckles aren’t legal everywhere. They are designed to inflict damage and punishment on an opponent. And, they’re also designed to protect a striker’s hands from damage when punching.
The metal frame of brass knuckles radically increases the potential force of a blow. Also, it distributes the force along the full surface of the brass knuckles. This inflicts increased damage across the striking surface, not just the point of impact.
This sort of punch can break bones, cause severe lacerations, and can without question render someone unconscious. The violent force of brass knuckles can lead to serious injury, even death in some cases.
That’s why some states have chosen to ban brass knuckles altogether, or to require a permit for their possession. Are brass knuckles legal in your area? Let’s check the list.
The legality of brass knuckles is largely regulated at the state level. And, there are three categories that the states fall into when it comes to the level of brass knuckle regulation. Legal, legal with permit, and illegal.
There are 29 states where brass knuckles are legal (12 legal without permit, 17 legal with a permit). There are 21 states where brass knuckles are illegal.
States where brass knuckles are LEGAL:
Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming
States where brass knuckles are LEGAL WITH A PERMIT. It’s important to remember that just because brass knuckles are legal with permit, that permit may have criteria attached to it such as how to legally carry, or where you can legally carry brass knuckles:
Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Here is a list of states where brass knuckles are ILLEGAL:
Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington
Brass knuckles, in a self-defense incident, can certainly be a game changer. Low-tech, but easily transported, concealed, and deployed. But do your due diligence and check out the laws in your area before making the decision to carry brass knuckles.
Lastly, it might interest you to know that wherever and whenever brass knuckles are legal, Firearms Legal Protection members are covered for their use in the defense of themselves, or others.