Bayonets and the Law of Edged Weapons
With zero desire to enter into debates about bayonets and all that politically, purely as an aside I thought OJ readers would be the sorts of people who would take an interest in … the law of edged weapons. There is law on the subject; I used to run across it particularly in older operational law military manuals (as I recall it is mentioned (somewhere) in the ancient US military manual, FM 27-10, which I don’t have to hand). For that matter, were the US to decide to introduce a new bayonet or other edged weapon, US regulations would require that it go through a formal weapons review for compliance with the law of armed conflict. Rooting through my home bookshelf (sitting out Hurricane Sandy), I find a paragraph devoted to the law of edged weapons in the excellent new textbook by Corn, Hansen, Jackson, Jenks, Jensen, and Schoettler, The Law of Armed Conflict: An Operational Approach. Here’s a quick excerpt:
Military bayonets and knives have often been forged with a serrated edge, to assist the soldier in cutting barbed wire or small trees. As long as the serrated edge is not designed to aggravate a wound, like the “barbed lance” prohibited by U.S. Army doctrine, the creation of a tool that is also used as a weapon is not a per se LOAC violation. Bayonets designed for the purpose of creating a vacuum wound … are probably unlawful because they make treating the wounded combatant more difficult.