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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Is a machete a sword?

While on the subject of bladed weapons: Is a machete a sword?

According to Wikipedia, a machete is a, 'large cleaver-like cutting tool' and means 'little sledgehammer' in Spanish.

The description for sword given at cl 47 of Schedule 3 of the Control of Weapons Regulations 2011 reads,

"Sword", being a thrusting, striking or cutting weapon with a long blade having 1 or 2 cutting edges and a hilt.

It seems to me like that definition could also apply to a machete.



The Court of Appeal didn't think so in dicta in The Queen v Nguyen [2006] VSCA 39. The Regulations then weren't substantially different to how they are worded now.

Charles JA said [at 20, Warren CJ and Chernov JA expressly agreeing]:

I doubt if machetes are presently covered by any of the paragraphs under the heading “Prohibited Weapons” or “Controlled Weapons” in the regulations. Swords are prohibited weapons, being expressly mentioned in Schedule 2, clause 47. The maximum penalty, however, for an offence of possessing, carrying or using a prohibited weapon, or possessing, carrying or using a controlled weapon, is, in each case, a mere six months’ imprisonment.

The penalties have been increased, to a maximum 1 year of imprisonment for a controlled weapon and 2 years for prohibited weapons. Perhaps the issue of the status of a machete got lost along the way.

Most items on the prohibited list are specifically designed to be used as weapons. Things that could be used to hurt someone but have another, legitimate use are usually found on the controlled list. But I don't see a machete on the controlled list, unless it's considered a really long knife.

Does anyone have a view on this?

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