The right to carry a bowie-knife for lawful defense is secured, and must be admitted. It is an exceeding destructive weapon. It is difficult to defend against it, by any degree of bravery, or any amount of skill. The gun or pistol may miss its aim, and when discharged, its dangerous character is lost, or diminished at least. The sword may be parried. With these weapons men fight for the sake of the combat, to satisfy the laws of honor, not necessarily with the intention to kill, or with a certainty of killing, when the intention exists. The bowie-knife differs from these in its device and design; it is the instrument of almost certain death. He who carries such a weapon, for lawful defense, as he may, makes himself more dangerous to the rights of others, considering the frailties of human nature, than if he carried a less dangerous weapon. Now, is the legislature powerless to protect the rights of others thus the more endangered, by superinducing caution against yielding to such frailties? May the state not say, through its law, to the citizen, “this right which you exercise, is very liable to be dangerous to the rights of others, you must school your mind to forbear the abuse of your right, by yielding to sudden passion; to secure this necessary schooling of your mind, an increased penalty must be affixed to the abuse of this right, so dangerous to others.”
Texas Appeals Court Judge
John Cockrum v. The State Page 402
[Via The legal history of bans on firearms and Bowie knives before 1900 by David Kopel.
I found this take on the use of large knives versus guns very interesting. There are several facets to this, but the following is the most intriguing. Those who would restrict access to guns would increase the use of weapons the courts have found to be more deadly.—Joe]