It seems like nothing good ever comes out of Congress these days. Well, there may be some good news out of Congress for knife lovers out there.
The Freedom of Commerce Act was introduced earlier this month.
Although it may not sound interesting, the Freedom of Commerce Act was brought to light with the help of the American Knife & Tool Institute and CJ Buck of Buck Knives and would repeal the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 and remove prohibitions on free trade, interstate commerce, and consumer choice.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Crap (R-ID), would allow people to buy automatic knives across state lines as long as it is legal in their jurisdiction.
“In states allowing the possession of switchblades, it is imperative that law-abiding citizens and sportsmen have the ability to buy and sell the tools vital to their trade,” said Crapo in a statement. “This measure would remove one of the many federal regulatory burdens that have hindered manufacturing growth, interstate commerce and consumer practices for far too long.”
What this would do is allow manufacturers of automatic knives like Buck and Benchmade to sell across state lines, which is currently illegal under the switchblade ban. That’s why the president of Buck Knives is so excited about it.
“Drafting legislation is always a balance between safisfying an emotional drive to fix something, and finding common sense mechanisms that will truly deliver a solution,” Buck said. “In this bill, Senator Crapo has done an exceptional job of striking that balance in a way that will help knife owners and consumers, remove unnecessary federal burdens, and allow states to decide what tools are legal within their jurisdiction – as the Constitution guarantees.”
Why were switchblades banned?
For those who don’t know, switchblades, also known as automatic knives, were first banned in 1958 during a scare caused by movies showing violent youth wielding switchblades. Congress used its power over interstate commerce to stop the sale of switchblades across state lines and to make it illegal to own a switchblade.
I’ve written about this ad nauseam but the original switchblade ban was unnecessary and the fact that it remains even today is even more insane.
What the Freedom of Commerce Act Won’t Do
We know the act will repeal the Federal Switchblade Ban, allow manufacturers to sell switchblades across state lines, and allow the importation of automatic knives. But there are limitations on what it won’t do.
Here’s more from AKTI:
The legislation will not:
- supplant or amend current state laws on automatic (or any other) knives;
- legalize the possession or carry of automatic knives (except for Native American Reservations and U.S. territories)
So unfortunately if your state bans automatic knives, you still won’t be able to carry it. The good news is that AKTI and Knife Rights has been pushing legislation across the country to repeal the switchblade ban state by state. They still have a long way to go, but they’ve made significant progress.
When will Congress Vote on the Act?
Just because it was introduced doesn’t mean it will pass anytime soon.
My political science knowledge may be muddled but it still has to go through committees for review before its voted on by one chamber of Congress. Then it has to go through the other chamber and pass there. Finally, it will be sent to the president who could potentially veto it.
Considering all the nonsense and debate going on, it’s unclear whether it would have the political clout to even get considered.
When Crapo’s spokeswoman was asked about the likelihood of the bill passing, she sounded cautious.
“We got it introduced, so we’ll go from there. Let’s see how many people we get signed on,” Lindsay Nothern said.
A different act promoted by Knife Rights called the Knife Owners Protection Act (with similar aims as the Freedom of Commerce Act) was reintroduced back in January, but there hasn’t been any word on that.