swiss army knives

A few weeks ago, we blogged about the efforts of the group Knife Rights to repeal many of the laws regulating knives. A recent column by Greg Bean of the New Jersey publication The Examiner gave a prime example of the confusion surrounding knife laws in many states.

Bean tells the tale of a young man who was arrested at a random DUI checkpoint for possessing a pocket knife.  The man, who declined to be named for the article, wasn’t drinking and had spent the day on a remodeling project.

According to Bean, the man faced a felony charge but eventually plead guilty to disorderly conduct and paid a $800 fine.  Bean said that the man told him that he asked the judge to provide clarification of what law he’d violated, but received none.

Bean tried to find the answer himself, but after asking a number of cops, judges and prosecutors, he failed to get a comprehensive answer.

They confirmed what I suspected, and here’s what they said: Because the state statutes are so vague, law enforcement can do just about whatever it wants, from taking the common-sense approach and letting the poor sod go, to incarceration, to astronomical fines, no matter how arbitrary and capricious their actions appear.

Bean’s editorial isn’t the only one expressing disgust at  poorly-defined knife laws.  Knife advocates across the country are speaking up in greater numbers about what they perceive to be vague and poorly-intentioned state and local knife laws.  Bean feels that the laws make criminals of those who are simply carrying knives for functional reasons.

I don’t want to be a criminal, but I’d like to carry my Swiss Army knife since I use it several times a day, and never know when I’ll have to open an envelope, drive a screw, or cut a trapped family from a flaming vehicle