June 4, 2009
Beware! That folding knife in your pocket may turn you into a criminal if the Obama administration gets its way. Although there has been a lot of fear and speculation that the new administration wants to take your guns, the most pressing threat now is actually to your pocket knives. With the changing of the guard at U.S. Customs, that agency has now embarked on redefining "switchblades" under federal law to include a wide variety of one hand opening knives that never were intended to be prohibited. In fact, many of the knives U.S. Customs now seek to prohibit under the Federal Switchblade Law had not even been invented at the time of its enactment! Furthermore, four previous U.S. Customs ruling letters (prior administrations) specifically determined "assisted opening" knives not to be defined as switchblades.
This new proposed U.S. Customs regulation is so broad that thousands of pocket knives will fall under its sweep and millions of knife owners will be affected. The problem is not simply that imports will be banned (which is bad enough), but that the "agency determination" will be used by domestic courts and law enforcement to determine what a "switchblade" is under both federal and state laws. Many states, including New Hampshire, fail to define switchblades and simply rely on the federal definition.
Luckily, the two premiere knife organizations in the US, American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI) and Kniferights.org, are fighting hard on this issue, but they both need your immediate help. Customs is attempting to jam this new regulation though at record speed.
As stated on the www.kniferights.org website:
U.S. Customs has proposed revoking earlier rulings that assisted opening knives are not switchblades. The proposed new rule would not only outlaw assisted opening knives its broad definition could also easily be interpreted to include one-handed opening knives and even most other pocket knives.
Note that customs interpretation of the Federal Switchblade Act forms the basis for national, state and even local law and judicial rulings in many cases. The effect is NOT limited to just imports.
As stated on the www.akti.org website:
URGENT NEWS - U.S. Customs Proposal would characterize assisted-openers as switchblade knives and jeopardize all pocket knives. On behalf of the entire sporting knife industry and knife owners across the country, AKTI will be filing an official response to U.S. Customs.
This is the biggest threat to American knife owners in U.S. history. AKTI informs us that this "Customs' proposal will make criminal out of 35.6 million Americans."
AKTI further states:
U.S. Customs proposes to bypass Congress and expand the switchblade definition to include all knives that open with one hand. These include multi-tools, traditional pocket knives, one-hand openers, and assisted-openers.More than 35.6 million law-abiding Americans now own one-hand-openingknives in one of the above four categories.
The U.S. Customs proposed new rule and the four prior letters they want to overturn can be read in their entirety here: http://www.akti.org/PDFS/U.S.CustomsProposedRuling.pdf
AKTI suggests that to register your opposition to the U.S. Customs'plan (19 CFR Part 177) to re-classify assisted openers and all folding knives; address your comments by June 21, 2009, to:
19 CFR Part 177
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Office of International Trade, Regulations and Rulings
Attention: Intellectual Property and Restricted Merchandise Branch
Mint Annex, 799 Ninth St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20229