Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 11 Jun 2008
|Posted: Mon 07 Jul, 2008 4:26 pm Post subject: Legal restrictions on weapons
Hello forum mates!
Dispite searching the forum and other sources of on the internet, I find it rather hard to find a good summeray of the legality of swords and other medieval weaponery in the countries around the world. I think it is of great importiance that the medieval arms collector and martial artist know what the legal restrictions are in their countries and around the world. Medieval arms is a pricy hobby. And we don’t want that hobby to become even more expansive trough fines resulting from legal issues. Or worse... Imprisonment!
Thus, I would like to try and set up a topic about laws surrounding medieval weaponery. I hope that other forum members can do a little research in their own countries (or states) as to the laws dealing with such weapons.
Since I am living in the Netherlands, I will open with the laws and regulations of the Dutch state. Perhaps not as interesting since the Netherlands is not really the centere of Medieval Martial arts or sword enthousiasm. But it is a beginning of a longer list I hope. I to not intend to make a full legal document here, nor should this be used in legal procedures. I am no lawman, so any suggestion or critique is very welcome.
Legal status of arms and armour in the Netherlands
As in most countries I think, owning and wearing personal armour of any kind is in most cases not really a problem. It might be temporarily prohibited during demonstrations in order to keep protesters from protecting themselves from police attacks, but otherwise there is no (legal) problem in taking a walk in the park in your full gothic style german plate armour.
Weapons naturally offer more of a problem. Even though the Netherlands is known as a country of high tolerance (towards for example the use of soft drugs), the laws on posession and certiantly dealing and manufacturing of weapons are acually quite strict.
For those who read Dutch, here is a link to a PDF file of the Dutch Minisery of Justice pamphlet “Wapens en munitie”. Which deals with the matter in greater detail.
Before we look at the different types of weapons, Dutch law discribes a list of actions related to weapons. Some of these discribed actions are legal for one type of weapon, while illegal for the other.
This means having the object directly avaleble for use. (Like a sword in a scabbard ar your belt or a gun in the dashbord of your car)
This means that one has acces to a weapon. This also includes having your weapon in your home locked away while you are visiting friends at the other side of the country (or the globe for that matter).
This means moving the object around in a public area while having it sufficiently packaged so that it is not directly avaleble for use. Otherwise it could be concidered “carrying”.
Importing and exporting
This means to transport the object from another country into the Netherlands and vice versa.
This is like the above, but then the object will be exported right after it has been imported.
This includes making repairs and addaptations and trading.
Dutch law catagorises weapons in 4 catagories. Normally catagories 1 to 3 are prohibited. With exeptions for millitairy, police, museum display, ceremonial and cultural events and (under specific regulations) sporting.
Catagory I: “Undesireble non-firearms”
These include weapons like stilettos, throwing knifes, balisongs, brass knuckles, catapults and sharp arrows. Toys that strongly resemble real firearms are also included in this group. Note that this group thus also includes many medieval dagger replicas.
Any actions from carrying to manufactuing is forbidden. So don’t plan to bring your medieval replica daggers to the Netherlands. Only allowed for police and army. Under very strict regulations exeptions can be made (but don’t expect it!).
Catagory II: “Militairy weapons”
This includes automatic rifles like the good old AK-47, (hand) granades, cannon shells, rocket launchers, nuclear warheads etc. It also includes chemical weapons like pepper spray or electral shock weapons. Also firearms that do not look like firearms. (like suitcase machineguns and mobile phone pistols).
Strictly and most definetly forbidden oudside of militairy and law-enforcement use. Only allowed under strict regulations for museum collection use. But fortunatly there are not many medieval Bazooka and electrical stungun replicas around. So it won’t effect our hobby much.
Catagory III: “Other (fire)arms”
Pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles etc. This would also include arquebusses, muskets and blunderbusses. Also certian types of throwing weapons, slaughter-masks (those things they kill cattle with) and alarm- and startingguns are included in this group.
Forbidden. But licences can be granted to people who use such weapons in sporting or hunting. If you have a collection of functional historical firearmsreplicas (although I don’t think there is a big market for them is there?) and you are collecting them you might get a licence. But that is dealt with in a case-to-case base.
Catagory IV: “Other non-firearms”
Swords, bayonettes, knifes that are not included in catagory I, air guns that are not included in catagory I, crossbows, harpoons, weaponsticks, spears, pikes, warhammers, etc. Also includes objects in certian situations that are not intended to be weapons but could be used as such. These include baseball bats and kitchen knifes.
These kind of weapons are generally allouwed. With the exeption that it is forbidden to “carry” them. However, one can get permits for using such weapons in relation to the practice of sports or for use in ceremonial events. But do not expect to be granted special permission to carry your sword or halbard at any time. Even when you have permission to carry a sword becouse of you practicing western martial arts, do not be surprised if you are arrested if carrying a Zweihänder around in Amsterdam central station.
Note that there are also some ristrictions on structurally dealing and retailing such weapons.
In general, the majority of weapons that are dealt with on this website fall under catagory IV, and there is thus no problem in collecting “battle ready” or “fully functional” weaponreplicas. Ornamental wall hangers are not concidered weapons. Exept ofcrouse, when they resemble (modern)firearms. Backyard cutting tests are no problem since your backyard is not a public space. Just be shure to properly package your weapons when transporting them so autorities cannot mistake it for “carrying” the weapon.
Medieval and Rennaicance firearms can be a bit of a problem. But since they tend to be rather useless in modern situations (muzzle loading your blunderbuss while robbing a bank?!) and tend to be exclusively used as collectors’ items, licences coult be granted for those kind of weapons.
Well that is about it for the Dutch law on weapons. Hopefully my spelling and grammar were not to bad. And more importiantly: hopefully members from other countries will contribute a post like this one concerning the legal status of weapons in their country.
The blade is only as sharp as your own personality.