Gun rights are having a huge boost recently, with Republican control of Congress and most states. What about knife rights?
At least 21 states this decade have repealed or weakened laws regarding knives. And it’s not just Republican states — it includes purple or even blue states such as Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington.
But the biggest restriction is the 1958 Federal Switchblade Act, a prohibition on interstate travel with automatic knives such as switchblades. There are 44 states with some such travel restriction — even though many or most of those states allow such knife possession within the state itself.
What the legislation does
There are provisions explicitly prohibiting those who are barred from carrying such knives by law (such as certain repeat criminals), as well as restrictions on how the knives may be transported. For example, in an airplane the knives would have to be in a locked container.
What supporters say
Supporters argue the bill allows for free movement of devices that are _already_legal within most states.
“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,” Doug Ritter, chair of the advocacy group Knife Rights, said in a press release. “The majority of states have always allowed switchblade possession.”
“And with Knife Rights’ repeal of switchblade bans in 15 states in the past eight years, more than four-fifths of the states now allow switchblade possession to one degree or another,” Ritter continued. “It is way past time to repeal this law that only serves to interfere with lawful trade and commerce.”
Ritter’s quote that current restrictions were “passed in 1958 in a wave of Hollywood-inspired politically motivated hysteria” refers to laws passed after fears of knives as a result of such ’50s movies as Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story.
GovTrack Insider was unable to locate any quotes of explicit opposition to the 2018 bill. That doesn’t necessarily mean opposition doesn’t exist, but rather more likely that the legislation isn’t appearing on would-be opponents’ radar.
Odds of passage
The House version has nine cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in either the House Judiciary or Energy & Commerce Committees.
The Senate version does not yet have any cosponsors. It awaits a potential vote in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
A previous version was approved by Senate committee in 2015, but never received a full vote in the chamber. Interestingly, that version attracted 13 bipartisan cosponsors: seven Democrats and six Republicans. There’s no readily available explanation for why the current Senate version has no cosponsors.
A similar bill called the Interstate Transport Act [S. 1092] was approved by Senate committee in July 2018, but knife advocates fear that its protections are much weaker than the Knife Owners’ Protection Act, the bill they really want passed.