While technically illegal to carry a weapon in a public place, many people want to know their rights when it comes to protecting themselves and the lives of loved ones.
I talked about hand-to-hand self defence in a previous article, but what about carrying a weapon to defend yourself? Even though carrying a weapon in public is technically against the law, there’s one big exception to that rule: reasonable excuse.
You are perfectly entitled to carry a weapon in public (except a gun), if you have a reasonable excuse for having it with you.
What is a reasonable excuse?
There’s no concrete definition of what constitutes a reasonable excuse — it depends on your personal situation and the circumstances you’re in at the time.
As an example, I defended a man who pulled a 30cm knife out of his backpack to defend himself from several teenagers who were trying to rob him. Alongside his assault charges, he was also charged with possession of an offensive weapon. I ran the reasonable excuse defence and he was successfully acquitted. The reasonable excuse? My client was a chef. And the 30cm knife was a kitchen knife that he was taking home from work.
Interestingly, a reasonable excuse can also include carrying a weapon for self defence. But only if the circumstances reasonably justify carrying a weapon. So while taking a machete to your niece’s birthday party might be a bit overkill, taking a pocket-knife while walking through a dangerous area of the city might not. But it’s a very grey area — carrying a weapon for the general purpose of defending yourself is still illegal, and the Courts have set a very high standard for defensive carry qualifying as a reasonable excuse.
So… is there any practical way to carry a weapon for self defence?
Yes — as long as you have a plausible and reasonable explanation for having a weapon in your pocket that isn’t just “self defence”.
The most important decision you have to make is what weapon to carry. There’s no reasonable excuse for why you have a switchblade, brass knuckles, or pepper spray in your pocket. What you want to carry is a weapon that easily lends itself to a reasonable explanation. A pink pocket knife is good — it’s plausible to think you use it for opening boxes at home. After all who carries a pink knife for self defence? A butterfly knife with a serrated edge, however, is made for the sole purpose of hurting people.
The bottom line — whatever you choose to carry, make sure it has an innocent purpose other than just self defence. That pink pocket knife might not look very threatening, but it could save your life just as well as a 10-inch Rambo replica and without the risk of going to prison afterwards.