The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

Category: Legal Issues (page 1 of 3)

Knife Rights Gives Updates on WA & TX Knife Bills

Knife Rights is hot off the heels of helping get a switchblade ban repeal and knife law preemption bill passed in the state of Montana.

In fact, the knife advocacy organization held a signing ceremony for the bill, which was attended by Ethan Becker, Governor Steve  Bullock, activist Joe Paschal, ACLU of Montana Director of Advocacy and Policy S.K. Rossi, and more.

Even cooler, all involved received an inscribed Pro-Tech SBR (Short Bladed Rockeye) automatic knife.

Texas Knife Bill Moves Forward

While all of this was happening, a bill in Texas that would remove location-based restrictions on knives in the state moved forward after it was passed out of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee. This bill — along with its companion House bill — are still in the early stages of passage, so it would still need to pass a committee and both chambers.

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Legislation on ‘Gravity Knives’ in NY Moves Forward… Again

 

The arrests of knife owners in New York continues.

More than four years after the Village Voice published an exposé on how vague wording in the statutes have led to thousands of arrests against mostly minority knife owners in New York City, the arrests are still going on.

Even after lobbying from Knife Rights and the passage of two bills by the state’s legislature clarifying the law (which were ultimately vetoed), police are still using gravity knives as an excuse to arrest law-abiding citizens.

But, “tenacious dems” — as Knife Rights puts it  — have continued to work on stopping the arrests in New York City. The state assembly just passed a bill that would completely remove “gravity knives” from New York criminal statutes. It passed unanimously. The state senate will soon vote on a companion bill, and I expect it to be passed near unanimously as well.

What happens after that remains a question.

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Montana Repeals Switchblade Ban

 

Knife Rights secured yet another victory — this time for the people of Montana.

A switchblade ban repeal and knife preemption bill was officially signed into law by Montana Governor Steve Bullock this week.

This means that switchblades (also known as automatic knives) are now legal to own and carry in the Treasure State. The knife preemption part of the bill ensures that the law is clear throughout the state. Local knife ordinances no longer apply if they are stricter than the state-wide knife law.

Unlike some bills, HB 155 takes effect immediately, so if you’re in Montana and want to buy an automatic knife, there’s no need to wait.

The legislation was really pushed by bill sponsor Rep. Casey Knudsen who argued that the initial ban was unnecessary. Here’s more from a January story in the Great Falls Tribune:

“There is no good reason they were banned in first place other than 1950s Hollywood movies depicting them as a weapon for delinquents and such,” Knudsen said.

Knudsen described switchblades as one “of the safest knives on the market,” adding they can be opened and closed with one hand. He said they are convenient for people with disabilities.

Like most knife bills that get passed, this was also supposed by libertarians and defenders of civil rights, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

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Virginia Governor Vetoes Switchblade Commerce Bill

 

Despite bipartisan support from the Virginia General Assembly, the bill to allow switchblades to be made in Virginia and sold to other states was vetoed by Governor Ralph Northam.

The switchblade commerce bill — known as SB1251 — had passed the Virginia House of Delegates 57 to 42 (with one no vote) and passed the Senate of Virginia 25 to 15. It was sent to the governor’s desk for a signature, but Northam announced that he would veto the bill Thursday.

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Knife Rights Appeals NYC Gravity Knife Case to Supreme Court

 

Knife Rights has announced it is appealing a case related to the abusive enforcement of New York’s gravity knife ban to the Supreme Court.

Earlier this year, a panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of New York City and District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr in the suit brought by Knife Rights. Knife Rights alleges that the city’s policy of treating pretty much any locking folder as an illegal gravity is unjust.

We’ve written about this case for a few years now (read my 2011 article on the initial lawsuit) and have covered all the twists and turns of the story — including efforts by the state legislators to remedy the issue only to be twice thwarted by the governor.

With the appeals court ruling in favor of the city, Knife Rights only has one more option: the Supreme Court. The lobbying organization is submitting a petition for a writ of certiorari, which asks the highest court in the land to hear the appeal.

The Supreme Court is asked to hear roughly 7,000 to 8,000 cases each year but only picks a small handful. So, the odds of the court accepting the case is slim.

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Knife Owners’ Protection Act Introduced to Senate

 

In a small but important step in getting the Federal Switchblade Act repealed and providing greater protection to knife owners, the Knife Owners’ Protection Act of 2018 was officially introduced to the Senate. This is a companion to the same bill introduced to the House in 2017.

Commonly called KOPA, the act would remove restrictions on the interstate trade of automatic knives while also giving additional protections to knife owners traveling through states without worrying about the local laws. There are currently 44 states who allow some carrying or ownership of switchblades.

Bill Introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker

“I am pleased to introduce the Knife Owners Protection Act,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), who introduced the bill. “This legislation would provide law-abiding knife owners the appropriate protection when transporting knives across state lines. It would also repeal the antiquated Federal Switchblade Act. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to advance this sensible policy for knife owners.”

KOPA is the baby of Knife Rights, an advocacy organization for knife owners. Knife Rights and its chairman Doug Ritter have been working on KOPA for more than eight years. The organization wrote it in 2010 and first introduced it in 2013.

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Spring-Assist Knives Might Now Be Illegal in New York State

 

I lived in New York for a few years — first upstate and then down in the city. During this time, I resigned myself to the fact that I should never carry a knife outside a slipjoint concealed deep in my pocket. This is why:

On a ruling of 6-1, the state’s highest court upheld the conviction of a man who had an assisted-opening knife under the theory that it was an illegal switchblade.

How did not just one but several courts agree that a spring-assisted knife was a switchblade? Let’s try to follow the logic.

Facts About the Case

Let’s start with some details about the case.

Defendant Steven Berrezueta was on his way to work at the mailroom of an investment company when he was stopped and arrested in the subway after an officer noticed a knife protruding from his rear pants’ pocket.

It doesn’t say the type of knife except that it was a “United States Army-themed knife” that he bought off the internet for use in his job in the mailroom. I imagine it was a dirt cheap knife like this one. There is talk of a button, but I think they might mean flipper tab. Not too sure about that one.

So, Berrezueta was charged with carrying a switchblade among other things.

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Louisiana Switchblade Ban Repealed

 

If you live in Louisiana — the same great state Knife Depot is based in — then we have good news for you.

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill that repeals the state’s antiquated ban on switchblade knives. Although the bill was signed by the governor on May 25, it doesn’t officially take effect until August 1.

The repeal was another victory for the knife community spearheaded by Knife Rights. The knife advocacy organization lobbied to get members of the state’s congress to draft and pass the bill.

The bill — titled HB892 — legalized the buying and carrying of switchblades as long as there is no “intentional concealment on one’s person.” The wording is a bit vague, but Knife Rights said it was necessary to add so sheriffs and state police wouldn’t oppose the bill.

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Mother of Student Killed in Stabbing Wants to Reinstate TX Knife Ban

On the morning of May 1, 2017, a 21-year-old man walked onto the campus of the University of Texas at Austin carrying a Bowie knife described as having a 15-inch blade by some outlets and started indiscriminately stabbing students.

In the attack, three students were injured and a fourth student named Harrison Brown was killed.

Now the Texas Tribune is reporting that the mother of the student killed on that fateful day is working to get the repeal of a knife ban on nearly all knives in Texas reinstated.

“I would love to see that bill completely repealed,” Lori Brown told reporter Emma Platoff. “Let’s come up with a license, a timeframe, a background check. Mental health issues are also a big problem.”

Texas Knife Ban Repeal Passed Easily

A full repeal of all knife laws was going up for vote around the time of the attack last year, which put the legislation in doubt at the time. It was later brought back with an amendment that restricted some locations on large Bowie knives in direct response to the incident at UT. It passed almost unanimously and was signed by the governor.

As a father and human being, I can barely imagine the grief and pain she must face on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a license and background checks for knives is simply not the answer.

As you can expect, Doug Ritter of Knife Rights does not agree either.

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Watch ‘Vice News’ Report on Knife Rights & NYC Gravity Laws

The issue of gun rights and laws is becoming an increasingly hot topic with people on both sides of the aisle digging in for a long and contentious fight.

But what similar issue can get both sides of the political spectrum fighting together for a common cause? Knife rights and laws.

I’ve written about this dozens of times, but an old law banning “gravity knives” in New York City has been abused by law enforcement to apprehend and arrest thousands of New Yorkers.

This topic is intriguing and caught the interest of Vice, which shot a short video detailing the background of Doug Ritter of Knife Rights and the NYC knife laws.

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10 States with the Most Lenient Knife Laws

Do you want to carry your knife without fear of arrest? Find a place with knife-friendly laws.

But if you’re having a hard time determining which places have the most lenient knife laws, you’re not alone.  Keeping track of knife laws is difficult these days. Not only does each state have its own knife regulations but in some states, each city has its own rules.

Resources Used in Rankings

How am I a judge on knife laws? Here are a few of the resources I used:

1) Doug Ritter, founder and chairman of Knife Rights. Ritter, who we interviewed in 2011, is part of the team that has helped get many of the laws passed in the states that appear on this list, so I thought his advice would be the best. He gave me his thoughts and recommendations about the subject. His rankings ultimately differed from mine, but I like to think I have some reasons.

2) Knife Rights resources. The Knife Rights website has a lot of great resources on the topic. If you aren’t a member or haven’t donated to the knife rights organization, I highly recommend doing so now.

3) American Knife & Tool Institute website. AKTI is another public advocacy group for all aspects of the knife industry. It has a pretty thorough list of knife laws throughout the United States.

4) “Knife Laws of the U.S.: Loopholes, Pitfalls & Secrets” by Evan F. Nappen. Nappen is “one of the most respected legal authorities in the nation on the topic of knife law” and his book is a great resource on knife law. The book was published in 2015, so some information was a little outdated. Knife News did a ranking in 2015 based on the book.

How States Were Ranked

The truth is nearly all of these states are nearly equal in terms of knife-friendly laws. They all have statewide preemption clauses that prevent individual municipalities from issuing their own knife laws and they all have very little restrictions.

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Small Knives Will Be Allowed on Planes in Canada

In news sure to delight knife enthusiasts in the Great White North, Transport Canada has announced it will allow knives with blades 6 cm or less (or for us Americans, roughly 2.36 inches or less) on flights starting Nov. 27.

This new regulation will pertain to all domestic and international flights out of Canada — except for those going to the United States.

Why the change? Here’s more from the transportation regulatory agency in Canada:

From visiting friends and family, to getting goods to market, Canadians, tourists and businesses rely on Canada’s safe and secure aviation system. Adjustments to screening procedures are necessary from time to time to reflect changes in the security environment and to harmonize with international standards and partner countries.

Canada is essentially joining the rest of the world in allowing knives with blades 6 cm or smaller on planes.

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New York Governor Vetoes Knife Reform Bill… Again

Unfortunately, it’s not just déjà vu. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have reformed the gravity knife laws in the state for a second year in a row.

The illegality of gravity knives in New York City has been a controversial issue the last few years after it was revealed that police were using the vague law to claim nearly any folding knife illegal by using the wrist-flick test. Police reform advocates and the folks over at Knife Rights wanted to clarify the law to prevent law-abiding citizens from being treated like criminals.

Advocates for the reform were cautiously optimistic that the bill would be signed by Cuomo after satisfying his complaints from the previous year’s iteration of the bill but were disappointed to learn of the veto.

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Act to Repeal the Federal Switchblade Ban Introduced to Congress

Buck 110 Auto

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.”

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Partial Repeal of Illinois Switchblade Ban Signed into Law

Last week, the repeal of the Colorado switchblade ban finally took effect (but beware since the state does not have a statewide preemption law).  Then, on Friday, the governor of Illinois signed SB607 into law, making it legal for millions of Illinoisans to carry switchblades.

The law takes effect immediately and allows legal possession of automatic knives by anyone in the state who has a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card. The card allows people to buy firearms and ammunition.

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Repeal of Michigan Switchblade Ban Signed into Law

The slow march toward repealing the switchblade ban in every state continues with Michigan being the latest state to make automatic knives legal to carry.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill (SB 245) on Thursday that contains a complete repeal of Section 226a of the Michigan penal code. That section was added in 1952 and made it illegal to sell or possess a knife with a blade “which can be opened by the flick of a button, pressure on a handle or other mechanical contrivance.” The new law becomes effective on October 11, which is 90 days after it was signed.

The language of the switchblade ban was so vague that sometimes people who owned spring-assisted knives were prosecuted under the law. In many places in Michigan, police didn’t enforce the law at all, creating confusion among residents of the state.

“Spring-assisted knives are not defined in the law,” state Sen. Rick Jones, who introduced the bill, said Friday in a statement. “The section refers to a pocket knife opened by the flick of a button, but there are now many different knives that may or may not fall into this category. Knives of this type are sold at major retailers throughout the state and are carried by many citizens.”

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Texas Knife Law Reform ‘Bowie Bill’ Signed Into Law

In an ironic twist, old knife laws in Texas prohibited the carry of one of the state’s (and country’s) most iconic knife designs: the Bowie knife.

But on Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot signed HB 1935 into law, which allows for daggers, dirks, stilettos, poniards, swords, spears and Bowie knives to be carried nearly anywhere in the state. The law takes effect Sept. 1.

The bill was set for a vote in the state’s House of Representative just days before the fatal stabbing at the University of Texas in May. The maniac apparently used a hunting knife described as a Bowie knife.

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Montana and Georgia Knife Law Reform Bills Become Law

Do you live in Montana or Georgia? Well, the knife laws in your states just got a little bit friendlier.

Knife law reform bills spearheaded by Knife Rights have become law in the states of Montana and Georgia. Let’s go into further detail.

Montana Knife Law Reform HB 251

Last month, the Montana bill HB 251 became law without the signature of Gov. Steve Bullock. He essentially allowed the law to pass without putting his name on it. The bill passed by large margins in the state’s House and Senate.

According to Knife Rights, the new bill removes the prohibition against concealed carry without a CCW of “a knife with blade 4 or more inches in length.” It also removes dirks, daggers, sword canes, brass knuckles, razors, and more from the list of items prohibited from concealed carry.

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Knife Rights Launches Annual Fundraising Giveaway for 2017

Knife Right’s massive fundraising event called the Ultimate Steel Spectacular is back and — well — it’s spectacular.

Every year Knife Rights launches its Ultimate Steel campaign to raise money because fighting for your right to carry knives doesn’t come cheap.

This year, the knife-advocacy organization has more than $200,000 worth of prizes to give away to those who donate to the cause.

Here’s how it works: You pick one of 10 donation amounts and receive entries based on the amount. For $20, you get one entry. For $60, you get four entries as well as a free bonus entry. As you get to higher amounts, you also get some nice add-ons. For example, at the $300 mark, you get 37 entries (including 22 free entries) and a free Colonial Nemesis, which is valued at $200. Those are available in limited quantities.

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Colorado Governor Signs Repeal of Switchblade Ban into Law

Just because nothing is getting done in Washington D.C. doesn’t mean nothing ever gets done in politics.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law yesterday that repeals the state’s switchblade and gravity knife ban thanks to some great work from Knife Rights.

The repeal essentially removes the language related to switchblades and gravity knives from the codes defining dangerous or illegal weapons.

It completely removes the following two passages from Title 18. Criminal Code,  Article 12. Offenses Relating to Firearms and Weapons,  Part 1. Firearms and Weapons – General:

(e) “Gravity knife” means any knife that has a blade released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force.

(j) “Switchblade knife” means any knife, the blade of which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other device in its handle.

It also eliminates gravity and switchblade knives from the section on possessing a dangerous or illegal weapon.

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