The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

Category: Legal Issues (page 2 of 3)

Bill to Repeal Federal Switchblade Act Introduced to Congress

It’s been a long time in the making, but 2017 may be the year the increasingly irrelevant 1958 Federal Switchblade Act finally gets repealed.

We’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves, though.

The Knife Owners’ Protection Act of 2017 — originally conceived and authored by the great Knife Rights in 2010 — has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Andy Biggs. The act, known by its acronym KOPA, now includes language that repeals the federal switchblade ban.

“The Federal Switchblade Act was an asinine idea when it was passed in 1958 in a wave of Hollywood-inspired politically motivated hysteria and has only become more irrelevant as time has passed,” said Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter in a statement. “The majority of states have always allowed switchblade possession and with Knife Rights’ repeal of switchblade bans in 11 states in the past seven years, fully four-fifths of the states now allow switchblade possession to one degree or another.”

James Dean wielding a switchblade in “Rebel Without a Cause.” The film was part of the inspiration for the original switchblade ban.

I’ve written on this very blog countless times why it’s time for the switchblade ban to be repealed. Not only has it affected the business of companies like Knife Depot (which can’t sell automatic knives except to government, law enforcement, or military personnel) but it makes traveling from state to state with different regulations extremely complicated.

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New York Governor Vetoes Bill to Reform Unjust Knife Law

In a huge blow to the knife community and civil rights in general, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have reformed an antiquated knife law that has resulted in thousands of capricious arrests.

We’ve been following this story closely ever since a Village Voice investigation found that as many as 60,000 people were arrested for illegal gravity knives between 2003 and 2013, with more than 80 percent being black or Hispanic.

The current gravity knife laws are poorly written and open to interpretation from individual officers. People who buy knives legally at stores in the New York area have been arrested for carrying a supposedly illegal knife. With some effort, New York police officers can argue nearly any folder is a gravity knife.

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NAACP Joins Knife Rights in Fight Against NYC Knife Laws

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Thanks to a distorted reading of New York City knife laws, the NYPD has sent as many as 60,000 people to jail over the past decade. According to the Village Voice, simple possession of a pocket knife has even landed defendants in prison for up to seven years.

Knife Rights has been taking on the city for the past few years, arguing that the laws are unjust, capricious, and unconstitutional. In some cases, people have been arrested for carrying legal knives like the Buck 112 Ranger or Leatherman Surge—not exactly gravity knives.

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Now the organization has garnered support from a group traditionally on the other side of the political spectrum: the NAACP.

These two groups make strange bedfellows, but they are fighting for the same thing: justice for unfairly targeted groups.

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Donate to Knife Rights’ Ultimate Steel Spectacular and Win

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Few organizations have done more for knife rights than Knife Rights.

The advocacy organization is dedicated to influencing positive public policy in pursuit of knife rights, encourage the safe use and marketing of knives, and provide knife owners with services.

To say that Knife Rights is a success is not doing the organization justice. Knife Rights Founder and Chairman Doug Ritter has taken on NYC for its anti-knife laws and pushed pro-knife laws around the United States. Here’s an interview we did with Ritter back in 2011 to learn more about the early days of the movement.

While the organization has done so much for knife owners, there’s still a long way to go. Unfortunately, pushing through legislation and fighting legal battles doesn’t come cheap.

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Is a Knife Clipped to Your Pocket Considered Concealed Carry?

Say you’re walking down the street and you’re carrying a Spyderco Tenacious clipped to your pocket. It may look a little something like this:

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If a police officer were to see the knife clip attached to your pocket, would it be considered concealed carry or open carry?

In short, it could be considered either. One of the problems with knife laws is the fact that much of it is left up to interpretation. One police officer may only see the clip and say that the actual knife is concealed in the pocket. Another may say that it’s clearly a part of the knife and it’s showing so the knife is being openly carried.

It matters because in some places, a knife with a blade length more than a certain amount of inches cannot be carried openly. In other places, that same knife must be carried openly.

Wherever you live (and wherever you go), it’s absolutely essential to thoroughly look at your knife laws because they are often littered with phrases and definitions that are general or open to interpretation.

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For example, in New York City, knives must be carried concealed. Since the Big Apple is well known for interpreting knife laws very broadly, Knife Rights recommends that knives are never carried clipped to your pocket or you may be arrested, even those with a deep-pocket-carry clip that doesn’t actually show the knife’s body.

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UK Looking to Ban the Sale of “Zombie Killer” Knives

It’s a well-known fact by now that the UK is cracking down on knives, but police officials across the pond are now taking aim at a specific type of knife: zombie killer knives.

“Zombie killer” knives or, as we like to call them, zombie apocalypse survival tools are a genre of knives that many consider novelty items. Apparently, local gangs are using these knives as status symbols or for intimidation.

Here’s more from the Independent:

Sales of so-called “zombie killer” knives, serrated weapons with long blades inspired by horror films, have led to calls for a crackdown on the marketing methods of online vendors who sell them as collectors’ items to “exterminate the undead”.

But police forces have become so concerned at the potential proliferation of the knives in big cities that steps are now being taken to introduce an outright ban on the weapons.

If you still don’t know what we’re talking about, check out this Zombie Killer War Blade Set—a best-seller here at Knife Depot.

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So those aren’t exactly the type of knives that are functional or designed for anything else other than collecting and showing your buddies. However, zombie survival tools can be quite useful for more than just “decapitating zombies.”

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Washington State’s Top Court Rules No Constitutional Right to Carry a Knife

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In a setback for knife rights advocates, Washington State’s high court upheld a ban on knives in Seattle, ruling that there is no constitutional right to carry a knife.

Wait, what?

Let’s go back to the beginning. In February 2010, Wayne Anthony Evans was pulled over for speeding in Seattle. Evans told the officer he had a sheathed kitchen knife in his pocket when the officer asked. As a result, prosecutors from Seattle charged Evans with unlawful possession of a “dangerous” knife under the city’s ordinance.

After being charged with a misdemeanor, Evans appealed the conviction claiming his constitutional rights were violated.

In 2014, the state court of appeals in Washington upheld the conviction because it concluded that kitchen knives shouldn’t be considered “arms” and therefore were not protected by the Second Amendment.

A paring knife, which may have been similar to the one Evans was carrying when he was pulled over.

A paring knife, which may have been similar to the one Evans was carrying when he was charged.

Then, a week ago, the Supreme Court of Washington State confirmed the earlier ruling that the Seattle law prohibiting the carrying of small fixed blades does not conflict with the Second Amendment.

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Cold Steel Sues CRKT Over False Advertising

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We all know there’s little love between knife manufacturers. When you are trying to make a knife stronger, better,  and more interesting than a competitor, there’s bound to be tension and animosity.

But Cold Steel is taking it to the next level.

In a press release, Cold Steel announced that it’s suing CRKT over misleading marketing assertions. Cold Steel says CRKT’s claims that its various locking mechanisms—including LAWKS, AutoLAWKS, and L.B.S—can convert a folding knife into a “virtual fixed blade” is not only misleading customers into buying poorly performing knives but also causing losses to their business.

Here’s more from Cold Steel President Lynn C. Thompson: “Consumers are entitled to truthful information. They need to know what a knife can and can’t do. We are a nation of people who USE our knives. Responsible knife owners want to use their tools, and they should be given honest information about the performance, reliability and safety they should expect.”

logoSo what does Cold Steel want out of this lawsuit? The company is seeking an unspecified amount of money from damages caused by CRKT’s “blatantly false claims” and “dishonest tactics,” which will then be donated to Knife Rights. It also wants an injunction, treble damages, and attorneys’ fees.

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Court says Knives Protected Under 2nd Amendment

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The U.S. Constitution is an amazing document. The whole thing has been interpreted and studied countless times, but no part of the Constitution has caused more grief and political turmoil than the Second Amendment:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

People over the centuries have read and made countless inferences from the poorly worded amendment, but the Connecticut Supreme Court recently and unequivocally stated that knives are protected under the Second Amendment.

To be clear, it was always assumed that knives are protected under the U.S. Constitution, but as Knife Rights puts it in a press release, “actual court rulings on this issue are always appreciated.”

The Supreme Court of Connecticut reversed the conviction of a man who was transporting his collection of weapons, which included knives, to a new place in Bolton, Mass. As you might guess, Connecticut has pretty stringent knife laws and any weapon inside a motor vehicle is in violation.

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Knife Rights Releases Rankings of 10 Worst Anti-Knife Cities

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Since its inception in late 2006, Knife Rights has worked hard to lobby against those with an anti-knife agenda. The organization has done a ton of advocacy for knife rights and has made a huge impact with knife legislation. We covered just a little of what they’ve done in an older blog post.

At the NASC Annual Sportsman-Legislator Summit in Oregon, Knife Rights released their first annual review of the worst and best knife laws in America.

Here’s more from Knife Rights on the ranking:

The ten worst anti-knife cities stand out for their outright persecution of honest knife owners and extraordinarily restrictive anti-knife ordinances, far more severe than even the state laws in those areas.

You can see the rankings over at Knife Rights but we thought we’d share it here as well. Some of the information about the laws in the cities are taken from Knife Rights.

Here are the 10 worst cities for knife owners.

10. Aspen, Colorado

In Aspen, it’s illegal to carry a concealed knife of any type in a car, unless you have a concealed weapons permit. It’s perfectly legal to buy marijuana in Aspen, but don’t even think about driving with your pocketknife hidden somewhere.

9. Corpus Christi, Texas (Update: removed from list in 2015 with the passage of Texas’ knife preemption law)

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Why Do the Internet Gods Hate Knives?

The knife, in case you’re not aware, is the world’s oldest tool.  It’s been around for close to 3 million years and is suffused in cultural and historical significance.  At Knife Depot, we’re proud to be able to offer an inventory of 10,000 knives to customers across the U.S. and abroad.  It’s a product we cherish and believe in.

Our customers use their knives everyday in a wide array of capacities.  Whether they’re hunters or fisherman, outdoorsman or collectors, their relationships with knives are built upon a love for craftsmanship, self-reliance and the outdoors.

It’s for that reason that we’ve become deeply dismayed by recent efforts by companies like Google and Facebook to label completely legal knives as weapons and to restrict their advertisement on the Internet

In March, I wrote about our battles with Google’s AdWords program, in which our entire account had been shut down due to the fact that we sold completely legal assisted-opening knives that were never prohibited in Google’s AdWords policy.

At the time, we didn’t expect to ever be able to advertise with Google again, however, we had our account re-activated in May with the caveat that none of our landing pages could have assisted-opening knives on them.

Then, just this month, our AdWords account was once again shut down without any advanced notice. We were informed that Google considered “throwing knives” to be weapons and we could not run any ads to those pages.

Wait, a throwing knife is a weapon?

The characterization of throwing knives as weapons, was of course, news to us and anyone who has ever used a throwing knife before.  Every throwing knife we sell has been designed for hitting bullseyes, not bodies.

Could you injure someone with a throwing knife?  Sure, in the same way you could injure someone with a baseball, a frying pan, a brick, a bottle, a rabid cat or a slew of other projectiles that can become weapons if paired with malicious intent.

However, a throwing knife is poorly suited for criminal activity.  These knives are generally large, making them hard to conceal; they have blunt edges and they’re damn hard to throw with fatal accuracy.  I mean, let’s be honest, are you really going to be more afraid of a guy like this trying to rob you then someone with a chainsaw they bought at Walmart?

I rest my case. But Google wasn’t swayed, so they banned us and all other advertisers from advertising bodacious, throwing blades, despite the fact that their Adwords policy doesn’t mention any prohibition of “throwing knives.”

Facebook Also Fears the Almighty Power of The Blade

So, we couldn’t run any more ads for throwing knives, but neither could any of our competitors.  And, at least, we still had Facebook, arguably the world’s most robust platform for demographically-targeted advertising, to alert our legions of knife fans to our products.

For three years, Knife Depot has pretty much crushed it on Facebook, amassing 48,000 fans and a whole lot of social media love.  Our success has come the hard way, as we have been banned from boosting posts due to Facebook’s interpretation of a knife as a “weapon.”

Since we couldn’t boost our posts, we recently started running Facebook ads  via a pretty badass company called Ad Roll.   But before we could even get cranking, we received notice from Ad Roll that our ads had slashed by Facebook’s anti-knife policy.

So I have some less than pleasant news for you.  It looks like Facebook is following suit with Google and tightening their policies. We are going to have to take down the current facebook ads and (and the news feeds ads which never got started) which is a total bummer.  I have had our ops team trying to push them through anyway, but we’ve hit a brick wall with it.  

A Knife Isn’t a Weapon; It’s a Lifesaving Tool

A knife isn’t a weapon; it’s a tool, and one that saves lives every year.  Just last week, in the tragic plane crash in San Francisco, police officers tossed utility knives to passengers so they could cut themselves out of seat belts.  On this blog alone, we’ve chronicled dozens of incidents in which knives have saved lives.

If Facebook wants to criminalize knives, why stop there?  Why not restrict advertising for golf clubs, one of which was used just last week by a man who bludgeoned a woman to death in Arizona.  How about baseball bats?  Earlier this month, a deranged man killed a homeless man with one in a sporting goods store in California.

The bottom line is that there are hundreds of products that can be used for malicious crimes if the person who owns them is hell-bent on destruction.

What Knife Depot is Doing and How You Can Help

Most of the anti-knife reaction by Internet companies unfortunately mirrors much of the anti-knife hysteria that exists out in public.  At Knife Depot, we’re proud to support organizations like Knife Rights and the American Knife and Tool Association, which lobby on behalf of knife owners.

If you want to cut away at anti-knife sentiment, consider donating to either of these two organizations.  You can also share this blog post to alert others to the anti-knife policies of companies like Facebook and Google.  Thanks for being a Knife Depot fan and rest assured we’ll never back down on our commitment to selling top-quality knives, no matter how much discrimination our product faces.

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TSA’s Pocket Knife Ban: The Blow-by-Blow

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Members of the Association of Flight Attendants protest TSA’s pocket knife rule change

March 6, 2013, may have been the most newsworthy day for pocket knives in history.

On that date, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that it would be allowing small pocket knives (under 2.36 inches) on planes.

The policy change, which brought the U.S. in step with regulations across most of the world, was seen by knife owners as not only a personal victory, but also a step toward a more sensible and effective policy for TSA.

In addition to allowing small knives on a plane, the rule reversal also meant that individuals would be permitted to carry hockey sticks and golf clubs on board.

TSA officials cited the low risk of these items to passenger safety and the time-consuming task of searching for them as the reason for the policy change.

“The focus is on what could present catastrophic damage to the aircraft,” said David Castelveter, a TSA spokesman.

Backlash Erupts Over Pocket Knives On Planes

The rule change, which was result of significant lobbying by knife advocacy groups such as The American Knife and Tool Institute, was quickly the target of harsh criticism from a number of different groups.

The most vehement objection came from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), who characterized the decision as one that makes both airline employees and passengers less secure.

The organization started an online petition, No Knives On Planes.com,  and recently filed a grievance with the TSA, stating that “permitting knives in the cabin is an unnecessary risk to the traveling public.”

Member of Congress from both parties also vowed opposition to allowing knives on planes.

New York Senator Charles Schumer blasted the decision in a radio interview with a local station.

“You don’t have to have a PhD in physics, you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to know that these items are dangerous.” he said.

Family members of 9/11 victims were also angry

TSA Backs Down in Wake of Boston Marathon Bombings

While the AFA and other organizations decried the decision, a number of transportation safety experts, journalists and policymakers supported the change.

In a article for the libertarian publication Reason, J.D. Tuccille, blasted the AFA for its opposition. Tuccile  noted, as many others had, that there were a number of other equally harmful, if not more dangerous items that would be allowed in board, but weren’t drawing the same criticism.

I hesitate to point this out for fear of sending the flight attendants’ association into an organizational panic, but the same TSA notice allowing for small knives also allows novelty bats, pool cues and golf clubs.

Honestly, in a bar fight, I’m reaching for the pool cue, not my Leatherman micra.

It’s also been pointed out by many that TSA currently allows pointed scissors with blades up to four inches long, knitting needles and screwdrivers as long as seven inches, and glass bottles, all of which can easily be transformed into a deadly weapon.

Lastly, many cited the fact that since all cockpits are now fortified, it would be impossible to hijack a plane using a pocket knife.

It appeared that, despite the opposition, TSA would go ahead and begin allowing pocket knives on planes starting April 25.

Yet, on April 23, two days before the new rule would go into effect, TSA announced that it would delay the change while considering additional input from airline companies, passenger advocates and other stakeholders.

Many suggested that in addition to the backlash, the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon may have also swayed TSA to move more cautiously.

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TSA Will Allow Small Knives on Planes Again

UPDATE: After much resistance, the TSA has announced small knives will stay banned.

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For the first time since 2001, air travelers will now be able to bring small knives on planes again, according to an announcement from the TSA this morning.

The change, which conforms to more lenient international rules on what passengers can take on board, will take effect starting April 25.

While this is a big victory for knife carriers around the country, there are still numerous restrictions on what knives can be carried on board. Only knives that are under 2.36 inches (or 6 centimeters), have non-locking blades and have a blade width of less than half an inch will be allowed. All other knives will still be confiscated.

Here’s more from the American Knife and Tool Institute on the announcement:

The American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) was instrumental in working with TSA to allow this policy change to happen. “As the knife and tool industry association, we were very pleased to work with the TSA on these revisions to ease the restrictions for all Americans carrying essential and valuable tools when they travel,” noted Jan Billeb, AKTI Executive Director.

If you’re wondering why this change was made, TSA spokesman David Castelveter said that they will now focus more on what could present “catastrophic damage to the aircraft.”

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Calif. Court Strikes Down Extensive Anti-Knife Ruling

6_315354The proverbial ship was righted a few weeks ago after the California Court of Appeals reversed an overreaching ruling from a lower court that deemed any knife that could be flicked open with a wrist a switchblade.

According to Knife Rights, “the lower court made the faulty ruling despite an explicit provision in California law that distinguishes and protects one-hand opening and assisted-opening knives with a bias towards closure and despite prior Appellate Court rulings upholding that exception.”

What that lower court in California was saying was that the 80 percent of the knives sold in the United States are illegal.

Fortunately for knife carriers throughout California, the judges in the higher court reversed that expansive ruling and brought things back to the status quo. Here’s an excerpt from the judge’s opinion:

“Switchblade knife” does not include a knife that opens with one hand utilizing thumb pressure applied solely to the blade of the knife or a thumb stud attached to the blade, provided that the knife has a detent or other mechanism that provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade, or that biases the blade back toward its closed position.

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Knife Rights’ Case Against NYC Marches On

Late last year, the New York City district attorney tried to throw out a knife-related civil rights suit against him and the city on the basis that there is no standing. Well, a judge has just announced that Knife Rights, which brought up the lawsuit, does in fact have a valid case and the suit will proceed.

As a refresher for anyone who’s late coming to this story, DA Cyrus Vance Jr. cracked down on knives in New York City by doing two things that Knife Rights claims is illegal. First, they prohibited retail stores from selling certain types of knives that aren’t usually considered gravity knives (which are illegal in NYC). Second, police arrested people carrying these same pocket knives, which, again, these should be considered legal.

Gravity knives, which is a legal term, are defined by being able to be opened with only the use of gravity. Unfortunately, the DA has broadened that definition to also mean knives that can be opened by the flick of a wrist.

So, Knife Rights teamed up with companies and citizens affected by this broad use of force. But the courts aren’t letting the DA get out of this one so easily. Here’s more from Knife Rights:

“Despite their attempts to make this case go away, NYC and DA Vance will now be held fully accountable in federal court by Knife Rights for their disgraceful attempts to demonize the most widely-owned pocket knives in America as contraband, and to intimidate honest knife retailers into making six-figure forced ‘contributions’ to the City, under threat of criminal penalty, in order to avoid prosecution,” said Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter.

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Eagle Scout Nearly Charged for Accidentally Taking Knife to School

Note: Not actual knife from story.

If you’ve ever gone on a camping trip with your usual backpack, you know how easy it is to accidentally leave some rope or supplies in your bag. However, for one Eagle Scout—the youngest one in the state of Colorado—accidentally forgetting a knife in his backpack meant potential criminal charges.

According to American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI), the young boy had gone camping in the spring. He took a small knife with him on the trip, but he forgot to remove it before heading back to school. Needless to say, his school was not pleased with his mistake. He was charged with having a weapon at school.

It’s easy to imagine the fear and headache this whole ordeal was for the young boy. As an Eagle Scout, I’m sure he is a great student who never got into any major trouble, and being charged with having a weapon is a big deal.

Fortunately, his public defender was smart enough to reach out to the AKTI and measured the length of the knife with the AKTI Knife Measuring Protocol. Using the accurate measurement system, it was found that the boy’s knife was under 3.5 inches, meaning it should not be considered a weapon. All the charges were dropped.

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Missouri Law Repeals Ban on Switchblades


With the signature of Gov. Jay Nixon earlier this month, the ban on possessing, selling and manufacturing switchblades in Missouri has effectively been repealed, according to Knife Rights.

The new law, signed on July 14 and effective immediately, doesn’t word it as clearly, but here’s the main part of the bill concerning knives:

1. A person commits a crime if such person knowingly possesses, manufactures, transports, repairs, or sells:

Any of the following in violation of federal law:

(d) A switchblade knife.

What that essentially means is that it is still a crime to carry a switchblade, but only when it violates federal law. According to Knife Rights, that’s limited to interstate commerce, Indian reservations and anywhere federal regulations exist like national parks.

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Newly introduced Pennsylvania bill would remove knife restrictions

A new bill introduced into the Pennsylvania House of Representative will continue the trend toward allowing citizens more freedom when it comes to possessing and carrying knives, according to the American Knife and Tool Institute.

The bill will remove the strict prohibition of switchblades and prevent cities in Pennsylvania from creating their own knife laws that are stricter than the state’s. This means the knife laws will be consistent throughout the state, so someone carrying a knife in one city wouldn’t be subject to fines or arrest in another.

What the bill will do is alter the definition of “offensive weapon” in the Crimes and Offenses statute to remove switchblades. Dan Lawson, AKTI Legal Contributing Counsel, made a very interesting point about the use of switchblades:

“It may be interesting to note that there are a number of states which never adopted a switchblade prohibition. These states include Oregon, Idaho, North Dakota and Arizona. I would suggest…that there is no discernible difference in knife crime in states with extremely stringent knife laws and states with relatively lenient or no knife laws.”

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Should Boston convenience stores need a license to sell knives?

Want to buy a blade in Boston?

Well, doing so may soon be trickier, if two Boston city councilors get their way.

Michael P. Ross and Tito Jackson plan to propose an ordinance Thursday at a Boston City Council meeting that would require all merchants selling knives in the city to be licensed in order to do so.

The councilors say the ordinance is a response to the high number of stabbings in the city and a recent undercover sting operation that caught many convenience store owners selling knives to underage buyers.

“Clearly, these knives are dangerous weapons being sold casually in a convenience store, and they’re being sold to children,’’ said Ross. 

In an email, the knife advocacy group Knife Rights urged its members in the Boston area to express their opposition to the measure and adding the following.

There is no indication that there has been any factual connection made between violence committed with knives in the city and these retailers, or that licensing would actually help the situation any more than simply enforcing the existing law on the books. 

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Knife Rights takes on New York City DA in lawsuit

New York resident John Copeland was shocked when he was nabbed by the police for having a folding knife with a three-inch blade that he bought from a reputable sports store in New York City. Apparently, police wrongly deemed this knife and many other folding knives an illegal gravity knife, according to the New York Post.

So, what’s the best way to get a city to address the problem? Sue them.

Knife Rights, the non-profit knife advocacy group from Arizona, has filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Copeland and another man against New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has been on a yearlong crusade to remove knives from the streets.

The only problem is, Knife Rights claims that Vance and police are wrongfully identifying any knife that’s easily opened with one hand as gravity knives.

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