The Washington Post

‘These hands and feet are registered as deadly weapons … in Guam!’

I was recently reminded of an item I noted on the blog 10 years ago: The “Karate experts must register their hands and feet as deadly weapons” line — which I had long assumed was generally a joke, but if taken seriously has been debunked as an urban legend — is actually true in at least one place: Guam. Here’s 10 Guam Code Ann. § 62100:

Any person who is an expert in the art of karate or judo, or any similar physical ar[t] in which the hands and feet are used as deadly weapons, is required to register with the Department of Revenue and Taxation.

Experts are defined by § 62104:

A karate or judo expert required to register by the provisions of this Chapter shall be a person trained in the arts of karate, judo or other hand-to-hand fighting technique, whereby the hands, feet or other parts of the body are used as weapons, who shall have completed at least one level of training therein and shall have been issued a belt or other symbol showing proficiency in such art.

Note that there’s no specification as to belt color, though presumably it must be enough to “show[] proficiency.” Certificates only cost $5, and are presumably suitable for framing.

I’ve long thought someone could make money helping people get such certificates by mail-order, as presents for martial-arts-learning friends and relatives, but it would likely require a statutory change — § 62101 seems to require people to show up for the certificates in person, and so long as the fee is just $5, I suspect the government wouldn’t want to waive that for people who seem unlikely to ever set foot on the island. Still, it could be a win-win-win proposition, if the Guam government decides to make it work, much like the design and sale of postage stamps with an eye towards sales to collectors.

But remember, Grasshopper: According to § 62106,

Any registered karate or judo expert who thereafter is charged with having used his art in a physical assault on some other person, shall upon conviction thereof, be deemed guilty of aggravated assault.

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.

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