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It was Zorro. As a child, I loved Zorro. I didn’t realize his sword was merely a more or less standard sport fencing sabre, but that didn’t matter. The style, the dash, fighting for truth and justice–ah, what days of youth and innocence. He sparked a life long interest in fencing, and I went on to co-found the Wyoming Division of the United States Fencing Association, and to study Kendo–Japanese fencing–and Iaido–Japanese sword drawing–as well. I never used a sword to rescue a dark-eyed, raven-haired, oppressed maiden with a heaving bosum, but then as now, I’m ready. And perhaps I’ll have a chance, as Daily Wire.com reports:

Come September 1, Texans will be able to carry swords and other long knives in public.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 1935, which allows any weapon with a blade longer than 5.5 inches to be carried in public. That would allow swords, daggers, machetes, stilettos, long knives – including the Bowie knife – and spears to be carried in public.

However, the blades won’t be allowed in schools, churches, hospitals and establishments that rake in over 51% of their revenue through the sale of alcoholic beverages. Private businesses also have the freedom to prohibit such blades from their premises.

Sounds a bit less dramatic than the several headlines about sxword-carrying Texans would suggest, doesn’t it?  Kids under 18 can’t carry blades longer than 5.5 inches without parental supervision either.

Mike Clark of Collectors Firearms told KHOU that he didn’t think there would be many people carrying those lengthy blades in public.

‘They’re cumbersome,’ Clark said. ‘You don’t want to walk around with one of those every day. But if you want to, it’s your right.’

Clark mentioned that most knives are carried for ‘hunting and fishing’ but some are carried for the purpose of self defense.

A Rapier

Clark is certainly right. Actual swords are indeed cumbersome, and Americans have never had a tradition of swordsmanship. In colonial America some small number of upper class colonists sometimes carried a small sword–a shorter, lighter version of the familiar rapier (pronounced “ray-peer”)–but they were more fashion accessories than weapons, and their day was brief. Duels were rare, and duels carried out in the 1800s were commonly performed with pistols. Other than perhaps various types of cavalry sabers–the basic design borrowed from the European and British tradition–America has never had a distinctively American sword.

A Small Sword

I have, at various times, sung with madrigal groups, and wore costumes appropriate to the times. I have a matching rapier and parrying dagger with brass guards and period appropriate scabbards and belts, but always chose to wear only a dagger instead. Even during the days when such swords were daily attire, there was a complex set of rules of etiquette governing the wearing of the sword, and one had to keep one’s attention on the sword at all times. Ascending or descending stairs required lifting the sword and scabbard up and out of the way, and walking in restaurants or crowds was difficult indeed. Having to sing from relatively complex music, and wrangle the sword, was just too much. I didn’t want to accidently whack the ankles of my fellow singers.

Carrying a sword in modern times is even more problematic. They are no less potentially deadly than firearms, but of course, are not distance weapons, and require great skill to use effectively. Even an untrained idiot can cause great damage with a sword, but just as with a handgun, putting one’s hand on the grip indicates imminent danger, and drawing a sword in anything approaching apparent anger is an immediate invitation to be shot. They can produce horrifying and permanently crippling wounds, and of course, death. Carrying a sword would certainly draw the public’s attention, but it’s not the kind of attention rational people want.

Kendo: It’s very fast.
credit: doyouknowjapan.com

The author of the bill, Republican Rep. John Frullo, said in May, ‘It’s not making criminals out of people who have no intention of creating some type of criminal act.

Frullo is referring to all manner of laws prohibiting knives with blades longer than some random number. As a police officer, I generally avoided charging people with violating that law, as a great many people carried a folding knife with a blade technically in violation by a few fractions, or even a half an inch or more. If they weren’t doing anything otherwise illegal, why bother them? The Second Amendment does not apply exclusively to firearms.

It’s a reasonable law, and its proponents promise to amend it in the near future to remove the prohibitions on carrying in specific places. That too is a good idea, considering the recent attacks carried out in places like churches, hospitals and schools. There’s nothing like a weapon free zone to attract criminals and maniacs with weapons. And not a Zorro–or heaving bosomed woman–in sight.

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