Self-defense keychains are illegal in Texas and can cost you

A keychain is stirring up controversy after many are finding out it's illegal in Texas.

The Travis County Sheriff's Office said brass knuckles are growing in popularity amongst women. But many don't even know they own one and it can lead to a hefty fine or even land them in jail. 

It's cute but don't be fooled it can be dangerous. 

At first glance, it looks like a harmless cat or dog keychain.
But as it turns out, it can be used as a deadly self-defense weapon. 

"It's a little bit ridiculous these are clearly meant for self-defense," said Layne Berkley. 

In fact, in Texas they are classified much the same as knuckle dusters or brass knuckles. 

Travis County Captain Craig Smith said the weapon is growing in popularity especially among women who are trying to protect themselves. He said most consumers are purchasing it because of the look. 

"They're buying it to take care of themselves in the event that they are attacked. It just blends into the keychain when you take a look closer it's a novelty item it looks like a cat.  I saw some are cats some are dogs and even a pig," said Smith.

Smith said looks can be misleading.

"They're pretty sharp it's a hard plastic I saw some that are actually made out of metal and it's not going to bend it's not going to give.  It's going to just penetrate the skin the eyes or where ever else. Once you got it in your hands now there's a lot of force behind it that can inflict injury," said Smith.

Under Section 46.05 of the Texas Penal Code it outlines weapons that are prohibited to possess in Texas. 
If your caught in possession of a self-defense kitty or dog keychain here in the state of Texas a person can be looking at a class A misdemeanor up to 1 year in jail or a $4,000 fine or both. 

Many consumers were puzzled by the law. 

"I think it's a little absurd that you can be fine with concealed and carry even on school campuses but this little metal key fob can get you in big trouble," said Berkley. 

Capt. Smith said they're easy to find online on various websites and are inexpensive to purchase. He said most consumers don't even know it's illegal.

Smith said he's seen a growing number of confiscated self-defense kitty and dog keychains at the Travis County Courthouse. 
He said just because it's sold online doesn't make it legal. 

"Just because something is available on the internet doesn't mean it automatically is legal. The internet is a broad place and something that is legal in another state may not be legal here," said Smith. 

Local self-defense instructor and Grand Master Abel Villareal, said he's also seen a growing number of self-defense kitty keychains.and said these items can do more harm than good. 

"There's nothing better than getting yourself educated.  If you find yourself in a situation they can do you more harm if you don't know how to use it. I've had female students that have items like this and the perpetrator takes it away from them and uses it against them," said Villareal.