Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's a blackboard jungle out there.

If you are a Hoosier, you might like to know that there are efforts afoot in the state legislature to get rid of Indiana's silly and archaic prohibition on automatic-opening knives.

If anybody can explain to me why a knife that opens with the push of a button is somehow more dangerous, more of a threat to civilization, than one that opens with a flick of the wrist or one that is already open because it doesn't fold up at all, I'm dying to hear it.

Please contact your state senator and tell them that they need to get behind SB 0006, and stop being prey to silly superstitions left over from 1950s teen movies.


Eric said...

New Hanpshire recently passed a similar law. Surprisingly, the streets aren't flowing with blood yet.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

Careful; if you insist that laws be based on actual conditions in the real world (as opposed to perceived conditions in the surreal world) the status quo could get VERY seasick.

mikee said...

Texas also bans carry of daggers, including poignards (f-u Froggies), stillettos (ditto Eyetalians) and dirks (sorry, British Naval midshipmen). There is an explicit ban on carrying Bowie knives, to deter imitators of the Jim or David persuasions. Even having both edges of a blade sharpened makes a knife illegal to carry, so Ka-Bars are right out, unless you are an actual soldier going about your lawful duties. Long swords are likewise banned, except for the case of Renaissance Fair participants. Switchblades also are a no-no, and dancing like a Jet or a Shark is no excuse, showing the power of the re-enactor lobby here compared with drama llamas.

Texas does allow ownership of same in home, and transport is legal. Maybe one day we will get legal open carry of firearms along with all these other items!

Bryan Reavis said...

Switchblade laws really are racist. They were enacted in respose to the popular perception that "criminal" (really black youth and latino/italian immigrants) used them is the comission of crimes. Knife control make about as much sense as gun control.

Like Sam Cohen said:
"The philosophy of gun control: Teenagers are roaring through town at 90MPH, where the speed limit is 25. Your solution is to lower the speed limit to 20."

Anonymous said...

Question: Does someone actually make an automatic knife out of something other than pot metal and toaster parts?

My experience with them is entirely from gun shows and I've never seen a display that didn't have one or two broken ones in it. Of course 90% of the knives you see at gun shows are pot metal monstrosities, so I really don't know what else is out there.

elmo iscariot said...

If anybody can explain to me why a knife that opens with the push of a button is somehow more dangerous, more of a threat to civilization, than one that opens with a flick of the wrist or one that is already open because it doesn't fold up at all, I'm dying to hear it.

Because I've seen swarthy juvenile delinquents use switchblades in movies.

More seriously, lots of jurisdictions with automatic knife bans also restrict "gravity knives" ans fixed blades. When I go into NYC, it's a real trick deciding what pocket knife to bring, because current NYPD policy is "if any one of our officers can get it open with inertia, it's an illegal gravity knife".

Question: Does someone actually make an automatic knife out of something other than pot metal and toaster parts?

There are very, very nice--and very expensive--autos out there by reputable manufacturers. The problem is a lack of affordable, working autos, due primarily to the legal restrictions that shrink the market for them.

Tam said...

"Question: Does someone actually make an automatic knife out of something other than pot metal and toaster parts?"


Microtech. Lots of custom and semi-custom high end makers make beautiful autos.

The knives in this picture were worth only slightly less than the guns, and they were both Performance Center Smiths...

Tam said...

(...and they were legal to own in TN. At least they went to good homes. :( )

Anonymous said...

The strange thing about Indiana's switchblade law (well, ok, having such a law is strange) is that it is almost completely disregarded.

They are sold at gun shows and gun shops (at the gun shops with disclaimers like "Police and EMTs only" even though there is no exception). In mail order sales of switchblades Indiana is normally a top buying state from several different distributors.

The prohibition is winked at. If it is prosecuted it is usually an add on to other charges.

Shootin' Buddy

Weer'd Beard said...

And of course there's the crazy arms race with assisted openers like my CRKT Vertex

Which is essentially a switchblade for all functions, but the "switch" is actuated by manipulating the blade itself rather than a widget on the handle.

Dumb laws.

BTW how about "Gravity Knifes" and "Ballistic Knives". Seems every state that has retarded blade laws seems to pick out these two odd ducks that seem to have just been jumbled in with people who were just naming knives that seemed scary, and the industry just shrugged its shoulders.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Anonymous @ 0924: I don't think so. I would assume that most knife makers who care about quality don't bother because the various state and federal regulations (especially the federal) would make it a complete legal minefield and not worth the investment in time or money.

The knife laws here in Virginia are a weird mish-mash of arbitrary stupidity. See Va Code §18.2-311 for example. Possession of a switchblade is not in itself illegal, only possession with the intent to "sell, barter, give or furnish." But possession just happens to be prima facie evidence of intent to sell, barter, give or furnish.

Possessing a pocket knife on school property is not illegal if the blade is less than three inches, except that there is an exemption for "any person who possesses a knife or blade which he uses customarily in his trade" (Va. Code §18.2-308.1).

As for switchblades, not only is mere possession legally risky, they are specifically banned from being carried "concealed" (aka, in your pocket)(Va. Code §18.2-308(A)).

I could go on. Realistically, I would like to see all of the state's weapons laws repealed and make the General Assembly start over from scratch, with the active involvement of today's pro-Rights organizations to keep them to a minimum (or just gone altogether).

Where's the House of Repeal when you need one?

doubletrouble said...

@mikee- here in NH they did rescind the prohibition on autos, but part of the law enforces the "no Jet/Shark" dancing rule.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, yes, well here in the PRUK automatic-opening knives have long been banned as you know (as are gravity, anything with a locking blade, anything marketed as 'tactical', 'military', 'special ops', etc. anything with a blade more than 3".....)

Then of course if you do get stopped and are in possession of any knife you must "prove that you had a bona fide reason for carrying a knife" - apparently 'cutting things' is not a good enough reason.

And we all know how all this 'knee-jerk' draconian legislation worked out don't we? Yep, knife crime is massively increased.

So, Ban sharp points on butter knives FFS

Christopher said...

Everyone knows that switchblade knives are uses by greasers and bikers to stab their enemies.

It's in every movie about 50's street thugs I've ever seen.

Hollywood wouldn't lie would they?

Anonymous said...

I'm probably not expressing this very well, but it's possible that this was of a piece with the hearings into comic books, and other clumsy attempts during the Fifties to come to grips with youth culture.

It never makes me feel bad to see youth culture take it in the shorts these days, and I wish I could think of a justification for making that public policy--I know if 51 year old me could fold time and confront 15 year old me, 51 year old me would slap the shit out of 15 year old me, for various things. And young dumbass me would deserve it.

But, yeah, if we can trust free people with firearms (in the absence of a reason not to, yes we can, that's one way to define a free person) then we can trust them to carry knives.

Mike James

Tam said...

Jake (formerly Riposte3),

"I would assume that most knife makers who care about quality don't bother..."

As I noted in the comment upthread from yours, that assumption would be wrong. ;)

Pakkinpoppa said...

In Ohioland, we are merely prohibited from "furnishing" automatic knives, gravity knives, brass knuckles, billy clubs, saps, ballistic knives, to anyone other than law enforcement.

So, in other words, a seller cannot offer them to non LE.

I "found" a couple Benchmades over the years, and a couple Bokers. I actually prefer a SOG, Spyderco, or other blade with a thumb stud, as most autos, while neat, I figure with stress I'd miss the safety on a Benchmade for example. Maybe just from not practicing much due to no way to carry one legally, they are cool to play with at times.

Kinda like a butterfly knife. Sure, they're neat, but we're verboten from toting "weapons". Concealed handguns with a license, but no "weapons". So a blade is a fine line, subject to the authorities approving it.

A Critic said...


"If anybody can explain to me why a knife that opens with the push of a button is somehow more dangerous, more of a threat to civilization,"

I have a new theory of politics that explains this.

Such knives contain two additional elements to the presence of the sharpened edge which enhance the perception of danger (discounting any association with undesirable elements):

1. The "surprise" factor. "Peek-a-boo".

2. The mechanical means.

Extremely stupid people, such as politicians, are scared by the first and confounded by the second. Lacking the intellectual capacity to comprehend the duality of an automatic knife or the mechanics of one, an intense negative emotional reaction occurs and so the incredibly stupid person favors waving the magic wand of prohibition to banish such scary confusing things from the universe.

I previously had ascribed politics to insanity as being the primary causal factor, but I think that is actually a byproduct of stupidity.

Stupidity provides a perfect explanation as to why reason, logic, critical thinking, facts, and such don't matter to politicians and their supporters - they aren't capable of comprehending these things and thus they mean nothing to the stupid people.

Anonymous said...

"If anybody can explain to me why a knife that opens with the push of a button is somehow more dangerous, more of a threat to civilization,"

From dealing with those that enforce the switchblade ban, I can tell you that it is the sound.

The sound of the opening of the knife makes them shudder.

Like how most of the Third World believes that the sound of firearms does the killing (why you see so much Iraqi Offhand shooting), prosecutors and police believe that the sound that a switchblade makes makes it more dangerous than a regular fixed blade. I have been told this by prosecutors in several counties.

Shootin' Buddy

Bubblehead Les. said...

Dumb Laws should be relegated to the "Dustbin of History."

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Same reason pistols with a magazine in front of the trigger are banned in Maryland, I guess. The 'wrong people' found swtichblades and closed bolt semi-auto only Mac-10s too stylish.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

@ Tam: Yup. Looks like our posts crossed in the tubes (well, actually it just took me a while to write it, since I was doing three other things at the same time). :)

I do have to admit that I did see a nice looking little switchblade at the gun show last weekend, but I didn't take a good look at it to see if it was decent quality or not once I picked it up and realized it was a switchblade and not an assisted opener.

Jay G said...

Mac-10 has the magazine in the grip like most semi-auto pistols.

Perhaps you meant the Tec-9, the weapon-of-choice for Jack Burton?

Anonymous said...

Benchmade some auto openers that would make the CHPers squeal with delight that came to our range in PA. They would whip out their credit cards to bring them back to their barracks for resale.

I guess they were the only people in California professional enough to use them.


Brad K. said...


Could the prohibitions have been a quality control issue, along the lines of making food handlers wash their hands?

Pehaps there was a flood of cheap switchblade junk and too many folk were losing money buying fancy looking crap.

Just think of the economic harm if they had passed a law that made selling cheap stuff at high prices. Or making cheap stuff look gaudy. So they just banned the cheap knock-off switchblades. And snake oil remedies. And claiming to cure diseases with a better diet and no AMA certified doctor in sight.

Michael Z. Williamson said...

Yeah, a couple of years ago, Midwest Gun Exchange tried to push this through. They tried to handle it alone (gee, I wonder what their interest in the matter was?), declined any help from other dealers, and it fell through, partly due to lack of enough support to make the case, partly due to the Dems refusing to be present for quorum (and flat out ignoring the presentations as if they didn't exist).

BTW, I raised the issue with Woody Burton down here, whose response was "The senator is aware that these knives have been used in crime, and therefore cannot relax their restriction." He's allegedly pro-gun, but his actions indicate otherwise. Oh, he also blocked me after I politely pointed out that every cop carrying one was breaking the law doing so, and that changing the law would put them in a better ethical position.

(Most cops will argue this point, that they're special and exempt, but IN's ONLY exemption is military.)

As to why these laws came about...Indiana native James Dean whipped one out in three movies, and Ladies Home Journal started a discussion about how they were the "weapon of choice" of street gangs, so of course if we banned the "weapon of choice" the street gangs would have to stop being gangs and start doing horticulture or such.

I'm not exaggerating much. I've seen the articles.

The court finding was "These knives can be opened quickly, possibly as fast as five seconds."

I stopped reading at that point, and wished the Justices to spend eternity in hell being gutted by demons with 3" common Case pocket knives that can be opened much faster than 5 seconds. Nor am I clear on why "opens fast" is a bad thing regarding a tool a real person uses 20 or more times a day and may need in an emergency.

Mattexian said...

If Congress made this a Fed law because of "youth culture" movies, can we ask them to do the same with sparkly vampires now? (I know, I shouldn't encourage them, unless the law they pass is to repeal another.)

agirlandhergun said...

I just posted on Weer'd's site this morning about how confusing the knife laws are in my state. I am so new to all of this, that I have been afraid to purchase a good knife because I am not sure if it breaks any of the 100 very confusing laws on the subject.

Gewehr98 said...

Most assuredly NOT pot metal:

(I have the 1 of 300 serrated model, myself...)

Drang said...

The sound of the opening of the knife makes them shudder.
Obviously, we need suppressors for knives.

WV: congut. The possibilities are endless...

staghounds said...

1. I saw some gorgeous hand made switchblades with four figure prices at the Blade Show in Atlanta.

2. The Queen of England took my 3 inch S&W barn knife that I carried for 15 years because it had a locking blade.

3. I believe that much of the anti switch blade hysteria was a reaction to "Rebel Without a Cause", specifically this one.

Panamared said...

The big problem is that in the 50's the Feds decided all those switchblades in movies where dangerous so they passed laws making transportation across state lines illegal. The States followed by making possession illegal, so now that some of the States are becoming enlightened, about personal protection, it just makes it more important to fight to get the whole 2'nd amendment followed universally. Only then will we be able to leave the house, and or cross State lines without worrying about what we are carrying.

Evan said...

I smell involvement by They've been around just a few years, but are some of the drivers behind recent reforms in AZ, NH and UT (preemption). I think they've helped get bills sponsored in NV and PA and suspect they're helping out with this bill in Indiana. They're going after New York City's persecution of stores that sell folders as well as some folks caught carrying folders in the city. And they've brought some light on the Boston city councils attempts to make certain knives more illegal by targeting their sale by certain retailers. They kept a federal homeland security bill from including language that would have banned sales/commerce one-handed openers.

No, I'm not a schill for them. I AM a fan and a paying member.

Like the SAF, they're a small bare-bones group that's been making huge strides in the right direction with small membership and very little money. Take a look at donating to them. They've been getting things done.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Yes, I did JayG. Mea Culpa. Tec9.

Tho MD doesn't like Mac10s either.

Justthisguy said...

When I was eight years old, my Cub Scout knife had a locking blade, because little kids often aren't careful about having fingers out of the way when closing the thing. It's a safety feature.

Woodman said...

Wait, I had thought "Locking Blade" was some esoteric thing I hadn't heard of before by not being a knife collector or aficionado.

When you say "Locking Blade" you mean just a lock back knife? The kind with the push release on the back of the handle or the goofy metal piece you have to move out of the way?

Hah, I thought when I got my first one of those that it was a safety feature, considering the fact that I have a nice two inch scar on my middle finger from having my cub scout knife fold on me while whittling I thought it was a nice feature too.

Is the reasoning that it makes it a concealable straight knife then? A pocket dagger?

WV: bacon... Even this post is better with bacon!

Justthisguy said...

Woodman, it was the little brass thingie you had to move out of the way, at least on my Cub Scout knife.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. My Mom bought me that Cub Scout knife. She was also my Den Mother, with the uniform, and everything. Mom was a sensible woman, who understood the need to have tools handy. I still use her slide rule to this very day.

WV: lesse. Lesse now, what other silly stream-of-consciousness thing can I write here?