It's Law! The President signed the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2892) for FY 2010 late yesterday (Oct. 28, 2009) that includes a permanent "fix" so that any folding knife with a bias toward closure cannot be declared a switchblade by U.S. Customs.
See an interview with AKTI President, and A.G. Russell Knives' Goldie Russell about AKIT's recent victory.
From: Goldie Russell, President, American Knife & Tool Institute
President, A. G. Russell Knives, Rogers, Arkansas
October 22, 2009
In late May of this year, we learned that U. S. Customs intended to revoke rulings they had previously issued to three U.S. companies stating that Assisted Opening Knives are not Switchblades and are legal to import.
The issue is an interpretation of the 1958 Federal Switchblade Act. The proposed revocation language was so broadly stated that should the Revocation stand, almost every folding knife (little pen knives included) would be labeled a Switchblade under the law.
Since this is a U. S. Customs ruling, many people think that the law would only apply to imported knives. However, if you read the Federal Switchblade Act, you will find that it also makes it illegal to sell Switchblades in interstate commerce. So not only would it be illegal to import all the knives that are now labeled Switchblades, but it would be illegal to sell them in interstate commerce.
In addition, most states and many local governments have laws on their books that make it illegal to carry Switchblades. If this U. S. Customs ruling stands, we will suddenly find that most of our folding knives are illegal to carry in our own state.
The excitement today is that on Tuesday, the U. S. Senate passed the Appropriations Bill for the Department of Homeland Security for 2010. There was an amendment on that bill, co-sponsored by 20 U. S. Senators, with very strong support from Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor, that adds a clause to the 1958 Federal Switchblade Act that defines what a Switchblade is not.
For more information you might look at:
The 1958 Federal Switch Blade Act is quoted below for your reference.
Chapter 29 – Manufacture, Transportation, or Distribution of Switchblade Knives
Section 1241. Definitions
As used in this chapter -
(a) The term "interstate commerce" means commerce between any State, Territory, possession of the United States, or the District of Columbia, and any place outside thereof.
(b) The term "switchblade knife" means any knife having a blade which opens automatically -
(1) by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle of the knife, or
(2) by operation of inertia, gravity, or both.
Section 1242. Introduction, manufacture for introduction, transportation or distribution in interstate commerce; penalty
Whoever knowingly introduces, or manufactures for introduction, into interstate commerce, or
transports or distributes in interstate commerce, any switchblade knife, shall be fined not more
than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
Section 1243. Manufacture, sale, or possession within specific jurisdictions; penalty
Whoever, within any Territory or possession of the United States, within Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18), or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7 of title 18), manufactures, sells, or possesses any switchblade knife, shall be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
Section 1244. Exceptions
Sections 1242 and 1243 of this title shall not apply to –
(1) any common carrier or contract carrier, with respect to any switchblade knife shipped, transported, or delivered for shipment in interstate commerce in the ordinary course of business;
(2) the manufacture, sale, transportation, distribution, possession, or introduction into interstate commerce, of switchblade knives pursuant to contract with the Armed Forces;
(3) the Armed Forces or any member or employee thereof acting in the performance of his duty;
(4) the possession, and transportation upon his person, of any switchblade knife with a blade three inches or less in length by any individual who has only one arm; or
Addition from Amendment which passed the Senate on 10-20-09
(5) a knife that contains a spring, detent, or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist or arm to overcome the bias toward closure to assist in opening the knife.