27 Jun 2009

New Customs Rule Proposes to Ban Assisted Opening Knives

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The Washington Times reports that Republican efforts to block the Obama Administration’s covert knife ban have failed in the House.

(N)ew knife rules proposed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would affect the interpretation of the Switchblade Knife Act of 1958 to include any spring-assisted or one-handed-opening knife.

The law defines a “switchblade” as any knife having a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle, or by operation of inertia or gravity.

Critics of the regulation – including U.S. knife manufacturers and collectors, the National Rifle Association, sportsmen’s groups and a bipartisan group of at least 79 House members – say it would rewrite U.S. law defining what constitutes a switchblade and potentially make de facto criminals of the estimated 35 million Americans who use folding knives.

Opponents are in a race against time because of the quick pace of the rule-making process – a 30-day comment period that ended Monday, followed by a 30-day implementation schedule.

“We now move to the Senate side where we hope for better luck and have more time to prepare, coordinate with other groups and marshal our forces,” said Doug Ritter, executive director of Knife Rights Inc., an advocacy group fighting to defeat the measure….

Customs officials dismiss fears that the new language will outlaw ordinary pocketknives, saying the change was issued to clear up conflicting guidelines for border agents about what constitutes an illegal switchblade that cannot be imported into the United States. The rule could be imposed within 30 days if not blocked.


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