WASHINGTON - Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), in conjunction
with The Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus today urged U.S. Department of
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to withdraw the notice of
proposed revocation of treatment relating to the admissibility of
certain knives with spring assisted opening mechanisms by the Office of
Customs and Border Patrol.
The proposed regulation could have severe implications on all knives,
not just assisted-opening knives, and would designate these knives as
switchblades, although the federal law definition does not declare these
types of knives as such.
The Switchblade Knife Act of 1958 as amended by Congress, and as
codified in 15 U.S.C. Section 1241, clearly sets forth the definition of
a "switchblade" as...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.
"This classification could render millions of law-abiding knife owners
in violation of the law and expose major market retailers,
manufacturers, dealers and importers subject to possible federal felony
charges, and could drive domestic manufacturers and importers out of
business, potentially costing thousands of jobs," Latta stated in his
letter to Secretary Napolitano.
The intent of this regulation is to re-interpret the word "inertia" so
as to cover all knives using a spring (even a Boy Scout knife or
multi-tool has one that maintains a knife's inherent bias toward
closure) and contradicts the intent of Congress. There is clearly no
language in the statute describing these assisted-opening and
one-hand-opening knives, all of which are in the same class
mechanically. This proposal also contradicts the intent of the
legislatures in many states.
Court cases in several states such as California, Illinois, Michigan,
and Texas, have all ruled in favor of assisted-opening and one-hand
opening knives not being switchblades because they do not possess the
activating button or device on the handle of the knife.
"These knives are used not only by sportsmen, but also by police,
firemen, skilled trade workers and others," said Congressional
Sportsmen's Foundation President Jeff Crane. "The Office of Customs and
Border Patrol proposed revocation does not identify any specific
intrinsic health and public safety concerns which it is purportedly
trying to protect by this new designation."
The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation is also collecting signatures
from members of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners for a letter
to Secretary Napolitano supporting the CSC in its efforts to convince
the Secretary to withdraw this proposal.
NOTE: As of Friday afternoon, over 70 House members, Republican
and Democrat, have signed onto the letter