Beginning Sunday, September 1, 2019, Texans may legally possess brass knuckles for the first time since 1918. Currently, brass knuckles are prohibited in Texas. If caught with them, you face prosecution for a Class A misdemeanor, which means you can face jail time for up to a year and a fine of up to $4,000.
Texas State Rep., Joe Moody of El Paso, filed House Bill 446 which eliminates knuckles from the list of prohibited weapons in the Texas Penal Code. Additionally, this legislation removes clubs from the list of prohibited weapons.
The criminalization of brass knuckles has wreaked havoc on many Texans’ lives. According to The Dallas Morning News, in 2017 ninety-three people were convicted of possession of brass knuckles. In April of 2018, Kyli Phillips of Dallas was charged with possession of a prohibited weapon for carrying a kitty-shaped key chain that could be used for self-defense. This is a description of the key-chain that landed her in jail: the key-chain looked like a kitty’s face with two holes for your fingers and the ears were pointed. The kitty key chain was illegal for her to carry, but legal were other weapons, that are arguably more dangerous, such as a knife of up to 5 ½ inches and pepper spray.
What if you were charged with possession of knuckles or a club before September 1, 2019? Unfortunately, House Bill 446 is not retroactive therefore the law in effect when you allegedly possessed a prohibited weapon will apply.
The legalization of knuckles and clubs means that this antiquated law cannot be used by law enforcement to detain, search and arrest citizens. Previously, the prohibition against these weapons meant that law enforcement could detain, arrest and search citizens if they were found in possession. Often, this led to the discovery of more serious crimes. As of September 1, 2019, police cannot use possession of knuckles or a club as a basis for search and seizure.
House Bill 446 is a step in the right direction towards personal liberty and against police intrusion in the lives of Texans. Like several other recent pieces of legislation, it allows Texans to make personal, individualized decisions concerning self-defense without fearing government intrusion and prosecution.