An overly aggressive man in a mask is telling you to empty your wallet. You sigh and explain to him, the government already did that, and besides, you're in line to deposit a check - who carries cash anymore? You see the gunman's eyes narrow in fury, as he lifts his gun and shoves it in your face, telling you to keep your mouth shut. Fear suddenly grips you, and flashing before your eyes is a question -
Is it legal for Batman to carry and use his weapons?
As everyone knows (or should know), Gotham’s Dark Knight doesn’t go in on guns. So, if the World’s Greatest Detective took up residence in the Lone Star State, he’d have some more interesting (if less hot-button) issues with his combination of Batarangs, Bat-Bolas, and Bat-Darts than, say, Deadshot with his 8 million rifles. So let’s take a look at those three items, and see what’s legal and what’s not.
On September 1st, 2017, the rules on knives in Texas changed pretty drastically. Before that, the Batarang would’ve fallen under the “illegal knife” law as a “hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown” (also, if there has ever been a Bat spear, that would’ve been illegal here too). But now, the Batarang would be allowed absolutely anywhere if it was under 5.5”, and Batman would only be prevented from carrying a Batarang over 5.5” in these places:
Assuming Batman wasn’t going to watch the newest version of Robin play Quidditch at UT-Austin, he can happily walk along with a 6" Batarang. How useful that would be is a question for another time.
As long as it’s not fired from a device that has been modified, Batman’s Bat-Bolas are A-OK to carry around. I mean, come on, this is Texas, proud land of cowboys and lassos, did you really expect bolas to be no good?
As any pub game aficionado will tell you, there’s nothing illegal about carrying around darts. However if Batman wasn’t stepping up to the line to throw, but shooting them from a Bat-Dart-Launcher, he’s running into issues with the Zip gun ban under Tex. Pen. Code 46.05(5) (that’s the non-firearm modified to shoot other things, mentioned above). And, if he’s got any of that patented shark-repellent, knock-out-spray, or any other chemical “capable of causing an adverse psychological or physiological effect on a human being” he’s running into trouble with Tex. Pen. Code 46.05(4).
To sum it all up, it's like this:
The Batarang is a knife, and since 2017 has been legal just about anywhere except the 'prohibited places' (that list of places applies to pretty much any weapon, by the way).
I'm going to bet that a Texas Legislature has never actually considered the legality of a bola, bat- or not, so that one falls through the cracks, and is going to be legal to carry anywhere, as it's not even classified as a weapon.
The Bat-dart also wouldn't be classified as a weapon, but anything Batman put on them to aid in his crime fighting would definitely be a chemical substance that would be prohibited.
Two follow up points.
1) While possessing these weapons might be legal for Batman, keep in mind that using them, in almost any way, is incredibly likely to saddle him with felony assault charges. Moral of the story? You can carry a big knife, you can’t stab people with it.
2) If Batman ever decided to start using a Bat-Tomahawk, he’d be out of luck. The Texas Penal Code specifically lists Tomahawk (a single-handed axe, of a size similar to a hatchet, originating in North America and typically used by various Native American nations and later European settlers) as a ‘club’ and prohibits anyone from carrying said Tomahawks in public. Mind you, an axe is not listed, nor is a hatchet. Batman could walk down the street carrying a typical European longsword, a lumberjack’s axe, or a long gun, but no Tomahawks. I’ll let you make a guess about the logic behind this oddly specific law. Hint: it’s probably racist.
Stay tuned for Part 3 as I dig deeper into the potential crimes of the Batman.
This guest post was written by criminal defense attorney Carl Guthrie.
Carl Guthrie is a criminal defense lawyer who will proudly stand beside you when the sh*t hits the fan. He practices primarily in Austin, TX, but for the right fight is probably willing to travel. Find out more at GuthrieDefenseLaw.com.
If you would like to write a guest post on the criminal side of Batman, reach out to me through the contact page.
Alex is a startup-tech nerd trapped in an attorney’s body. One of his favorite hobbies is hearing about other people’s new ideas and watching them succeed. He has a few ideas of his own, and, like many attorneys, enjoys talking about them. If you want to talk about your projects or hear about his attempts to automate the practice of law, reach out through the contact page.