PDA

View Full Version : Where would I send a request for an opinion from the CA DOJ re: PC§12020 & tomahawks


paradox
01-27-2008, 10:02 AM
Does anyone know the proper address and division/bureau at the CA DOJ where I could send a letter requesting clarification of a portion of PC§12020? Specifically, I’m interested in their opinion of whether or not a tomahawk is either a billy or dirk or neither. Should I send the letter to the firearms division, the front desk, or somewhere else?

Hunter
01-27-2008, 10:11 AM
Attorney General's Office
California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

762cavalier
01-27-2008, 10:14 AM
Well, After seeing how they respond to letters asking for legal clarification I would vote "somewhere else". Might as well send it to Santa Claus, you would have a better chance of getting a clear response.:p

CSACANNONEER
01-27-2008, 10:17 AM
Does anyone know the proper address and division/bureau at the CA DOJ where I could send a letter requesting clarification of a portion of PC§12020? Specifically, I’m interested in their opinion of whether or not a tomahawk is either a billy or dirk or neither. Should I send the letter to the firearms division, the front desk, or somewhere else?

OMG! You think that a hawk could be a felony? What about a throwing knife, camp ax or darts? I'm really curious to see the DOJ's response letter. I've got a hawk throw set up in my backyard and I guess, I'll just throw my favorite French Canadian "camp ax" at it until I find out if hawks are legal or not.

bwiese
01-27-2008, 10:22 AM
You may well get a 58 DAs answer, or "we can't serve as your personal attorney, you should go hire your own."

But give it a try!

gazzavc
01-27-2008, 10:43 AM
For all the good that the DOJ BOF are, you might as well write to the department of sanitation.........:jump:

Charliegone
01-27-2008, 1:05 PM
Here is the DOJ definition of a dirk

(24) As used in this section, a "dirk" or "dagger" means a knife or other instrument with or without a handguard that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death. A nonlocking folding knife, a folding knife that is not prohibited by Section 653k, or a pocketknife is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death only if the blade of the knife is exposed and locked into position.

Depending on the type of tomahawk it is, this might or might not apply.

Now with billy it's a bit different. They use some pretty strange wording...

or any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slungshot, billy, sandclub, sap, or sandbag.

Now I looked up "billy club" in the Merriam Websters dictionary, this is the definition.

a heavy usually wooden club; specifically : a police officer's club

The Princeton dictionary

truncheon, nightstick, baton, billy, billystick, billy club (a short stout club used primarily by policemen)

basically all these definitions say it is a stick used by police officers. Since a Tomahawk is not commonly known to be a billy, my take is it is legal.

BTW, while I'm at it, a slungshot can also be confused with a mace or flail...but a slungshot is specifically an instrument or weapon with a shot or weight on the end of a cord wrapped around someones hands. Also, since a mace or flail is known as such, it cannot be considered a slungshot. Same goes for other things they "commonly known" as.

paradox
01-27-2008, 2:14 PM
You may well get a 58 DAs answer, or "we can't serve as your personal attorney, you should go hire your own."

But give it a try!

Oh, I intend to. I’m only really doing this for ****s and giggles, but I do think that this particular edge case is a good illustration of the silliness of PC§12020.

Here’s the rough draft I have so far...


------------------------------------------------------


To whom it may concern:

I am requesting and opinion from the California Department of Justice regarding the legal status of objects commonly known as a hand axe, tomahawk, hatchet, norse axe, throwing axe, and battle axe. Specifically, I am interested if a hatchet is considered either a “dirk or dagger” or an “instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slungshot, billy, sandclub, sap, or sandbag” under Penal Code §12020:

“12020. (a) Any person in this state who does any of the following is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or in the state prison:
(1) Manufactures or causes to be manufactured, imports into the state, keeps for sale, or offers or exposes for sale, or who gives, lends, or possesses ... any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slungshot, billy, sandclub, sap, or sandbag.
...
(4) Carries concealed upon his or her person any dirk or dagger.
...
(24) As used in this section, a "dirk" or "dagger" means a knife or other instrument with or without a handguard that is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death. A nonlocking folding knife, a folding knife that is not prohibited by Section 653k, or a pocketknife is capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death only if the blade of the knife is exposed and locked into position.”

For the purposes of this inquiry, please assume:
1. The object in question is carried by a non-felon, non-member of a criminal street gang.
2. The object is carried with the intent to be used as a weapon if the need arose to protect oneself or others in accordance with PC§197.

There are three different general forms of hatchets that should be considered separately due to the possibility of them being classified differently under the law:

Blunt back-- these hatchets have opposite the blade either nothing, a hammer head, or a pipe head:

http://www.gerber-tools.com/images/Back-Paxe-large-5912.gif
http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/csstoreonline_1983_5641075

Double-bit-- there are two separate bladed heads opposite each other:
http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/csstoreonline_1983_5389385

Spiked-- there is a pointed spike opposite the hatchet blade:
http://www.1sks.com/images/bear-mountain/2005/bmt-rr.jpg
http://www.knifecenter.com/knifecenter/tomahawk/images/CQCT.jpg


My interpretation of the law and case law:
* People v. Grubb and People v. Fannin say any blunt object possessed for the purpose of possibly using as a weapon is a “blackjack, slungshot, billy, sandclub, sap, or sandbag” and thus illegal. I could find no case where a bladed object that could be used in a bludgeoning fashion was classed as a “blackjack, slungshot, billy, sandclub, sap, or sandbag.” Thus, because of the cutting edge present, I do not believe any of the three classes of hand axes listed above could be considered a “blackjack, slungshot, billy, sandclub, sap, or sandbag.”
* In medical literature, bladed martial art literature, and colloquial language, stab wounds are differentiated from slash and chop wounds. Sometimes slash and chop are lumped together, sometimes they are separated, but they are always treated differently than stab wounds. For a medical example, please see: "The Pattern of Homicidal Slash/Chop Injuries: A 10-Year Retrospective Study in University Hospital Kuala Lumpur," Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine*6 (1999): 24-29. The legislature recently defined “dirk or dagger” to include only those objects that are “capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon.” Because the hatchet head is only capable of causing chop or slash wounds and are incapable of causing a stab wound, I believe that only the objects in the spiked class above would be considered a “dirk or dagger” while those objects in classes one and two wouldn’t be considered a “dirk or dagger”.


In the opinion of the CA DOJ, is my interpretation of PC§12020 with regards to hand axes correct?
1. Hand axes are not considered an “instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slungshot, billy, sandclub, sap, or sandbag.”
2. Only hand axes with a spike opposite their hatchet head are considered a “dirk or dagger.”


Thank you for your time and response,
Paradox

----------------------------------------------------------

So, what do y’all think?

RANGER295
01-27-2008, 7:08 PM
So, what do y’all think?

I am sorry but I really don’t like it. You come off with an argument that it is illegal. I would let them come up with that. They will always error on the side of being restrictive and will probably just agree with you.

Boy I hope they are not illegal. I used to be a great tomahawk thrower. We used to do that in the Scouts at Camporees and stuff like that.

tankerman
01-27-2008, 7:31 PM
http://www.gerber-tools.com/images/Back-Paxe-large-5912.gif
http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/csstoreonline_1983_5641075

Double-bit-- there are two separate bladed heads opposite each other:
http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/csstoreonline_1983_5389385

Spiked-- there is a pointed spike opposite the hatchet blade:
http://www.1sks.com/images/bear-mountain/2005/bmt-rr.jpg
http://www.knifecenter.com/knifecenter/tomahawk/images/CQCT.jpg




So, what do y’all think?

http://www.kultofathena.com/images/KR22.jpg

I think you forgot to add the Gunshow Mall Ninja Battle Ax to your list

Patriot
01-27-2008, 7:46 PM
So, what do y’all think?

I think you ought not to suggest the 'dirk and dagger' line too strongly, lest the DOJ adopt it out of a "if in doubt, ban it and avoid potential problems/liabilities" mentality.

Personally, I think 12020 is in serious need of revision either directly through legislative channels or indirectly through court challenges. I don't like ambiguous/catch-all laws, however much of a convenience they might be for the justice system. 'Dirk and dagger' is rather over broad and should be restricted to double-edged implements with a stabbing point. Icepick should be added. Billies, et al should be properly defined.

Charliegone
01-27-2008, 8:45 PM
I think you ought not to suggest the 'dirk and dagger' line too strongly, lest the DOJ adopt it out of a "if in doubt, ban it and avoid potential problems/liabilities" mentality.

Personally, I think 12020 is in serious need of revision either directly through legislative channels or indirectly through court challenges. I don't like ambiguous/catch-all laws, however much of a convenience they might be for the justice system. 'Dirk and dagger' is rather over broad and should be restricted to double-edged implements with a stabbing point. Icepick should be added. Billies, et al should be properly defined.

I agree. I think you shouldn't even mention it at all. Just whether it would be legal to posses, carry (what ever your question is). If you suggest that it's a dirk or dagger, billy, etc they might just go with it.

paradox
01-28-2008, 5:33 AM
Ahhh, but billy et al are "overbroad as a matter of common sense" according to the state Supreme Court, so the possibility that a hawk is a billy if possessed for the purpose of using as a weapon is there. I personally think it would be a stupidly broad expansion of a stupid law, but you never know. :TFH:

What I’m really interested in is the “dirk and dagger” aspect. The legislature defined the terms in 1994 to only include objects “capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon that may inflict great bodily injury or death” the question becomes: is a tomahawk capable of ready use as a stabbing weapon? Personally, I think it is obvious that the Roger’s Rangers style hawk are capable of being used as a stabbing weapon, but I object to the idea that a standard ax head is capable of being used as a stabbing weapon.

If a hawk can be construed as a billy et al, then they would be illegal to possess for the purposes of self defense. Since they are dual-use items, you could possess them for throwing or chopping wood, just make sure to never defend yourself with it or tell a cop you might defend yourself with it.

If a hawk can be construed as a “dirk or dagger” then possession, use as a weapon, and intent to use as a weapon is ok. You just can’t conceal it upon your person.

I’m hoping for none of the above thus leading to a boutique market for concealable fighting axes...


Oh, I forgot to add, the reason why I was so specific in my questions was to try to force the DOJ to give a useful response. If I had just asked if tomahawks were legal, they could just say “yes” not be lying, but still be of no use if someone got popped concealing a hawk on their person....

Nodda Duma
01-28-2008, 6:10 AM
Why aren't you restricting your inquiry to your particular tomahawk?

-Jason

paradox
01-28-2008, 6:34 AM
Why aren't you restricting your inquiry to your particular tomahawk?

-Jason

Because I don't own one yet :p

The closest I have is a fiskers hand axe and a couple of mauls, neither of which would conceal very well. If I could get the DOJ to agree that a non-spiked hawk is neither a "dirk or dagger" nor a billy et al, then I would either buy or make a nice small hawk complete with an IWB sheath and use it as my EDC weapon just for ****s and giggles...

RANGER295
01-28-2008, 7:22 AM
...Oh, I forgot to add, the reason why I was so specific in my questions was to try to force the DOJ to give a useful response. If I had just asked if tomahawks were legal, they could just say “yes” not be lying, but still be of no use if someone got popped concealing a hawk on their person....

Well then be specific, but I still would not issue my own opinion and then ask if they agree. Give you set up, ask the question, then let them come up with their own answer.

scottj
01-28-2008, 12:16 PM
So you're saying my ice axes might be considered dirks? They're certainly capable of stabbing. In fact I had to replace one once because one ax managed to stab the shaft of the other during a fall while climbing. Lucky it was the ax instead of me.

paradox
01-28-2008, 5:00 PM
So you're saying my ice axes might be considered dirks?

Yep, but then again it is hard to conceal an ice axe on your person...

RANGER295
01-28-2008, 6:31 PM
Yep, but then again it is hard to conceal an ice axe on your person...

Ah but that depends on the ice ax. An alpine ice ax like what I use for general mountaineering and glacial travel, would be very hard to conceal (I think mine is 70 or 72 cm). On the other hand, there are ice axes that are used for technical ice climbing that are no bigger than a tomahawk. The type that scottj pictured looks more like the smaller kind.

crazy
09-12-2010, 5:39 PM
Where did this go with the letter? Was it sent to DOJ? Did you get a letter back?