Knives and the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment doesn't mention guns. It says "arms." This includes knives, which is good, so we have to fight all the time to push back restrictions on what knives we can carry and where we can carry them.

My old friend, Doug Ritter, started Knife Rights a number of years ago to press this fight. Here's a message from Doug about the fight, and the recent blowup at Benchmade. ~Tom

The Interstate Transport Act (S.542- ITA) has once again been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).  While seemingly pro-knife, this bill is bad for the Second Amendment as evidenced by its support from all the Senate Democrats. This is the same bad bill that passed in the Senate by unanimous consent at the end ofTom Doug last year with their help.

The protections for knife owners traveling with knives was so watered down from the original Knife Owners' Protection Act (KOPA) authored by Knife Rights that it is worth almost nothing in the very states where it is most problematic.  It is telling that of the eight co-sponsors at filing; there are six Democrats and two Republicans.

This bad bill is being promoted by the American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI) of which Benchmade is a founding Board of Regents member. Benchmade has been touting their support for ITA in their efforts to restore their reputation after they were caught cutting up guns for their local police department. Benchmade admitted that their substantial financial support to Democratic Sen. Wyden, the ITA's principle Democratic co-sponsor, is directly related to this effort to pass the ITA.

CJ Buck, the President of AKTI, even admitted in an email to weakening the bill to accommodate those Democratic Senators who don't want to pass a bill that would have teeth "fearing the precedents it set might be used to advance gun legislation in the future."

The language in the ITA was improved last year by Knife Rights' efforts, but those improvements did not fix the worst faults. These faults come from the ITA directly copying language from the badly flawed 30-year-old Firearms Owners' Protection Act (FOPA). This year's bill still has those problems The protections of FOPA were significantly diminished by anti-2A courts in the Northeast and then they gutted it by ruling that there was no Right of Action as there is in all other civil rights-related cases as a result of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C. § 1983) that allows people to sue the government for civil rights violations.  

For years, the NRA and the Second Amendment community have been trying to fix FOPA including adding a Right of Action. Right of Action language was included in a bill that passed last year in the House but was not taken up in the Senate. KOPA consists of a strong Right of Action.  ITA does not.  Passing ITA without this Right of Action will be a significant win for the anti-gun crowd who wants to keep FOPA as flawed as it is.

To provide some cover, the ITA’s sponsors added the right to legal fees if, and only if, you win in court.  A robust right of action holds jurisdictions financially accountable for the victim's losses if they willfully ignore the law, and causes jurisdictions to consider these adverse repercussions before they arrest or prosecute an individual that is protected under the act. The language included in the ITA is not robust enough to dissuade these jurisdictions from prosecution.  As such, it is all show, but no go.

The unfortunate reality is that were this bill to become law; it would put many knife owners at greater risk of prosecution, financial jeopardy or ruin and loss of civil rights because they would believe themselves protected when they were open to abuse. This is particularly the case in states and cities with very restrictive knife laws where they are currently wary of breaking the law. It would provide knife owners an unjustified false sense of security that could trap the unwary.

Even worse, by passing such a bad bill, Congress puts down a marker that they are perfectly happy to see just such a worthless fix to FOPA, and that's the reason all these anti-gun Democrats are willing to help pass this bill.  It’s as bad for gun owners as it is for knife owners. Throwing gun owners under the bus for a bill that all show and no go is a very bad idea.
~ Doug Ritter