Senate Passes Amendment Protecting Knife Owners

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Late Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed an amendment to the Federal Switchblade Act as part of the Homeland Security appropriations bill. The amendment, authored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), changes the federal law under which one agency had tried to redefine many common knives as switchblades.

The measure would exempt assisted-opening knives that can only be opened with "exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist or arm" from a federal law that criminalizes commerce in switchblades. Assisted opening knives are highly desired by hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, firefighters, law enforcement and emergency personnel and others who may need to open a knife with only one hand.

"The Senate sent a strong message and made clear that the 35 million Americans who own pocketknives are free to continue using them without the threat of federal agency intrusion," Sen. Cornyn said in a statement today. "While U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) proposed changing that, my colleagues joined in a unanimous, bipartisan effort to ensure assisted-opening pocketknives are protected by the law. What's more, the CBP reversal would have inflicted serious economic harm to sporting goods manufacturers and retailers."

In the same statement, Sen. Hatch said, "Without this amendment, there is a real danger that 80 percent of the pocketknives sold in the U.S. could be classified as illegal switchblades, which would hurt knife and tool manufacturers across the nation. The unintended consequences of the CBP's definition could be that state and federal criminal courts could construe Leatherman-type multi-tools equipped with one-hand opening features, as well as folding utility knives with studs on the blunt portions of the blade to assist with opening, to be illegal. That is absurd."

Thursday's Senate action puts us one step closer to passing this common-sense measure into law. The measure now heads to a House-Senate Conference Committee.

To view the amendment, please click here: 1447.pdf

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