A 44-year-old ban on nunchucks in New York has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge who argued that the right to own the Japanese martial arts weapon is protected by the Second Amendment.
In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Pamela K. Chen applied a Supreme Court ruling that extends the Second Amendment to state law. Though it is still subject to appeal, the ruling could mean that Massachusetts is the only remaining state with a nunchuck ban on its books, the Washington Post reports.
New York’s law dates back to 1974 when Bruce Lee was popular but his death the year prior still resonated. Nunchucks, two short sticks connected by a rope or chain, were made popular by Lee, who showed off his mastery of the weapon in his movies. Lawmakers, however, worried that popularity would translate to violence among not only criminals, but also children, the Washington Post reported.
The plaintiff in the case was James Maloney, a New York lawyer and amateur martial artist, who had been arguing for the right to own nunchucks in his home since the early 2000s, according to the paper.
The law prevented Maloney from teaching his sons martial arts and he chronicled his legal battle on a blog, Forbidden Sticks.
Throughout his 15-year fight, Maloney was trying to gain the right to use nunchucks in his home, but the result of his case did much more.
“The Court granted relief somewhat beyond what I had asked for (but I am not about to complain),” Maloney wrote in his blog. “Thanks to the many who have helped in many ways along the way. It has been a path with heart.”