Encouraging the Hatpin Menace

As we planned our route through various states on the way to Louisville based on their carry laws, I was just thinking about how many laws I could break if I decided to wear more hats.

I didn’t have time to see if the states we’ll be traveling through still have hatpin restrictions on the books, but I was just thinking about this while digging out my American flag pin and admiring my great grandmother’s (1890-1986) hatpin that my mother gave me that resides in the same holder.

As you can see, this one isn’t very stabby anymore, so it may be fine under some ordinances. However, some of the bans were written based on how far the pins protruded from the hat (not the brim) rather than how sharp the ends might have been.


This one got its first test with me during a memorial service last month, and I’m happy to report that it was stabby enough to get through my hat and my hair. If I needed to, I’m sure it could have been sufficiently stabby enough to get through an attacker’s hand with some force. (Maybe. I’m not about to risk the heirloom pin to find out how much force it can take.)

It’s very tempting to see if any future cities for NRA conventions still have highly restrictive hatpin laws on the books that were specifically passed to keep women from defending themselves and find some lovely new hats that warrant wearing pins to secure them in place. A little civil disobedience can be fun. I checked, and I don’t see any newspaper accounts or Google hits for anti-pin ordinances in Louisville. Being the home of the Kentucky Derby, I would imagine that a ban would be more fiercely fought there than other places.

So whether your self-defense tool of choice is a handgun or hatpin, women are well protected in Louisville.

7 thoughts on “Encouraging the Hatpin Menace”

  1. I’ve heard several stories about how effective those hat pins were / are so I take them seriously!


  2. Your great grandmother lived to age 96, Mrs. Bitter? That’s awesome!

    “A little civil disobedience can be fun.” That’s even more awesome!

    Sebastian, where did you find such a cool woman, and does she have an older (and single) sister?!!!! 😉

    With marked jealousy, Arnie

  3. I love the original research you did on this, but after reading more about it…and commuting on a crowded subway every day, I can see the reason for the ban back then. Now, if you want top wear a self defense broach, go for it.

    1. I thought about that, too. However, I also thought about something yesterday while we were traveling and that is that I found no reference in any newspapers on GenealogyBank or Google about Louisville even considering such a ban. With Louisville being the home of the Derby and huge hats being an important tradition at the crowded race, I do have to wonder if there’s something about familiarity among those for whom these would be a bigger tradition breeding a culture of safety and accountability. You assume accountability for your long, sharp hatpin, and we hold the man you had to stab because of unwelcome sexual assault accountable. :)

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