First guns, now knives - Wall Street Journal

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by hso, Jul 25, 2006.

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  1. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    http://online.wsj.com/public/page/2_0433.html


    Wall Street Journal Looks at Pocketknives
    How New, Deadly Pocketknives
    Became a $1 Billion Business
    By MARK FRITZ
    July 25, 2006; Page B1

    A decade ago, Jim Ray brought together a champion martial artist, a former Navy Seal and a police-weapons specialist to draft designs for what he hoped would be the perfect pocketknife.
    But the high-tech knives the team created were never meant to whittle sticks. Instead, the team produced knives whose blades could be flicked open with one finger faster than the widely outlawed switchblade -- but were still perfectly legal. "Nobody wanted to call it a weapon" at the start, says Mr. Ray, a former proprietor of a North Carolina tourist shop. But eventually, he adds, "that changed." And soon Mr. Ray and the company he formed, Masters of Defense Inc., were marketing the blades' utility when "shooting is just not appropriate."
    The knives have ergonomic grips and are compact -- and they can inflict deadly damage.:banghead: Mr. Ray was a pioneer in a technological revolution that has :banghead: -- into a $1-billion-a-year consumer business, aimed at just about anyone in the market for a small knife. These 21st century pocketknives, with their curved, perforated or serrated blades and ergonomic grips, can inflict deadly damage, but they are also compact, easily concealed and virtually unregulated.:banghead:
    In March, a monthly FBI bulletin alerted law-enforcement agents nationwide to "the emerging threats" posed by the knives. Though there are no statistics on how many crimes have involved tactical-style knives, the FBI says knife-related crimes have edged up, to 15.5% in 2004 from 15% in 2000.:banghead: In that time, violent crime in general dropped 4.1%.
    The knives' popularity has been a boon to some retailers. Mike Janes, owner of Second Amendment Sports, a hunting, fishing and camping superstore in Bakersfield, Calif., says that knife sales have been climbing an average of 25% a year in the past decade and that 75% of the pocketknives he sells are tactical. "Are you tacti-cool? That's what we say down here," Mr. Janes says.
    Dave Vanderhoff, who runs U.S. Martial Arts in Clifford, N.J., recently taught a knife-fighting class that included a judge, a banker, a nurse, a young woman with a belly ring and a French chef from Manhattan.:banghead: And Spyderco Inc., for example, makes a tactical knife that, when folded, masquerades as a credit card.:banghead:
    But the marketing techniques for some of the new pocketknives aren't so mainstream. Cold Steel Inc. makes the ¾-ounce "Urban Pal," which has a 1.5-inch blade. "The Urban Pal should be standard equipment for survival in today's urban jungle," its Web site says.
    Lawyers for the tactical-knife industry have persuaded government officials that even minor manual movement -- no matter how enhanced by levers and springs -- separates the knives from switchblades, which require pressing a button on the handle to flip open the blade. "We have to resist the application of the 1950s switchblade laws to the new technology," says lawyer Daniel Lawson, a knife collector in Pittsburgh who represents the tactical-knife industry. Thirty-seven states now outlaw switchblades, partly because they developed a cult following among teenagers in the 1950s.:banghead: But, says David Kowalski, a former knife magazine editor and a spokesman for the industry, tactical knifes have remained legal because "the laws across the U.S. are a mishmash because [legislators] really don't know anything about knives."
    Modern tactical knives are rooted in the 1980s, when some martial artists in the U.S. became practitioners of a Filipino style of knife-fighting. :banghead: An early innovator was Ernest R. Emerson, a martial artist and custom knife builder. In 1995, Oregon's Benchmade Knife Co. collaborated with Mr. Emerson to mass produce the Closed Quarters Combat 7 knife. It opened quickly, locked in place and could be closed with one hand.
    Mr. Emerson, 51 years old, says he insisted on selling that knife for $159, believing the high price, performance and custom look would give it cachet. The knife was a hit, and competition got hot. Mr. Emerson formed his own company in 1997 and says annual sales rose to about $10 million last year from $800,000 at the start.
    Worried that they might face regulatory scrutiny, makers of the new-style pocketknives formed the American Knife and Tool Institute.:banghead: The trade group credits U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, with persuading U.S. Customs in 2001 to stop seizing shipments of one-hand-opening tactical knives that some investigators considered switchblades.:banghead: A spokesman for Sen. Wyden, Andrew Blotky, says he can't confirm the senator's involvement.
    Soon the upstarts who dominated the self-defense market were jolting the traditional knife industry. Buck Knife Co., a staple among sportsmen; W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery, famed for its collectible pen knives; and Leatherman Tool Group Inc., which makes pocket-sized tool kits, have all introduced tactical knives since 2003.
    "It's a testosterone thing," says Buck's chairman, Charles "Chuck" Buck, 75 years old, who estimates the retail market for tactical knives at $1 billion.
    Leatherman Tool Group jumped on the tactical-knife bandwagon in 2005, introducing a full line of tactical-type knives.:banghead: The most prominent feature on its knives is the "Blade Launcher" mechanism, which lets the user flip a menacing-looking blade:banghead: out of its handle with lightning speed. Yet it also has a bottle-cap opener, a nod to Leatherman's heritage.
    Not all makers of tactical knives agree on how to market them. Buck, for example, boasts in marketing materials about the "stopping power" of its tactical knives and bills its "Bones" knife as "bad to the bone."
    But Tom Arrowsmith, chief executive of W.R. Case, accuses competitors of "weaponizing" the pocketknife and says it's an approach his company won't take. He does concede, though, that customer demand has prompted his company, a 117-year-old maker of pretty penknives, to offer a line of one-hand-opening knives with tactical features.
    The blades on most of the new pocketknives are less than four inches long, the maximum length that passengers were permitted to carry onto U.S. airlines before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In 2004, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks concluded that the hijackers in those attacks used short knives -- not box cutters -- to seize control of the planes. :banghead: At the Pennsylvania crash site, 14 badly damaged knife parts :banghead: were collected, and at least half have tactical-knife characteristics. :banghead: But the FBI cautions that it can't be sure those parts are from knives that belonged to the hijackers.
    Technology has made blade length almost irrelevant. :banghead: The city of Atlanta prohibits people from carrying pocketknives in public with blades longer than two inches. Yet, in a widely publicized case, ex-Marine Thomas Autry used a two-inch blade in May to kill one mugger and wound another when he was confronted by five assailants armed with a shotgun and a .38-caliber pistol.
    "Clearly we are seeing wounds you would expect from a bigger blade from what victims say was a small knife," :banghead: says Andrew Ulrich, a Boston Medical Center emergency-room doctor.
    Mr. Janes of Second Amendment Sports is one of several retailers who have added knife training to their businesses. He says "this large influx of people carrying 'tactical folders' didn't know how to use them."
    Nicholas Nobella, 25, took a four-hour class at the Bakersfield shop. Several months later, he admitted to police that he stuck his tactical knife into stripper Edward Pedrosa, 24, during a melee that broke out when men attending a bachelor party raided a bawdy bash for the bride-to-be, says Kern County, Calif., Deputy District Attorney Matt Magner. Mr. Pedrosa died. Mr. Nobella's lawyer says his client was acting in self-defense.
    Mr. Janes says Mr. Nobella isn't typical of the students at his knife classes.
    Meanwhile, in the race for the next big thing, some companies are competing to make more durable ceramic and plastic knives that can pass through metal detectors. :banghead: Plastic "assisted-opening" knives that flick open with a slight nudge of the blade can be purchased on eBay for $20.
    Cold Steel sales director Rick Valdez describes the company's $15 "Night Shade" plastic knives as "letter openers." Nonetheless, the company's Web site has a film clip of men attacking slabs of meat and decapitating plywood people, :banghead: and it notes that the knives can be "taped just about anywhere" on the body.
    Write to Mark Fritz at [email protected]1

    :banghead: indicates some twisting of the truth or other idiocy.


    Instead of the reporter you should contact the editor since the editor is the only one that has any real authority. [email protected].

    If email him try to keep it as calm as possible. We certainly don't want to reinforce the position that we're all testosterone poisoned knuckle draggers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2006
  2. Praxis

    Praxis Member

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    Hso,
    Thanks for the full-text article. I see that it is being widely discussed at a number of Internet knife sites. Some have suggested that the AKTI (American Knife and Tool Institute, the knife world's NRA) issue a formal press release refuting the major points. I certainly think that would be a good idea.

    As a knife collector, I believe the agenda of the article's author is to label almost every knife short of a Case pen knife as "tactical" and therefore bad. How long before states start banning "tactical knife" features like pocket clips, opening holes or posts, and locking blades? :fire: No one needs a knife over two inches...just like no one need more than ten rounds.:rolleyes: :rolleyes:
     
  3. Valkman

    Valkman Member

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    Dang, I may have to start making tacticool knives! :D
     
  4. joe4702

    joe4702 Member

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    The mark of a true blissninny - focusing on inanimate objects as the source of all the worlds ills
    Can't we put all these people on an island somewhere? I'm sick of listening to the constant fear-mongering from these idiots.
     
  5. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    I had a couple of pocketknives when I was a kid that I could open with my thumb. Granted I needed a long tumbnail but... So why is this news?

    I think the mindset and training he had enabled him to preval over five assailants armed with firearms, rather then the knife he had.

    -Bill
     
  6. Deer Hunter

    Deer Hunter Member

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    Most of these cheap knives don't last long. My friends go through five of these type knives in a year, but I've kept my Buck knife (4.75" blade) sharp and ready for years. It's heavier and more deadly than any of these little kiddy butter knives that other guys carry around.

    If the Garand had a pistol grip, it would be outlawed.
     
  7. Chrontius

    Chrontius Member

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    rainbow.jpg

    Try telling 'em mine is tactical...
     
  8. jerkyman45

    jerkyman45 Member

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    the wall street journal should stick to stocks and bonds.
     
  9. maclean

    maclean Member

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    Never ceases to amaze me when these people decide to take it upon themselves to "educate" the American public on the dangerous weapons in their midst.

    FWIW, I'm a Benchmade collector and carry a 750SBT Pinnacle (3.95" Ti handled framelock) clipped to my right front pocket every time I put on my pants. If I feel the need for a second knife, I drop an 806S in my back right pocket next to my wallet. Considering I walk with a cane, the ability to open my knives with one hand is a definite plus. I can use nail nicks but there's a pretty good chance I'll fall over when I do.

    What really drives me nuts is that, while both the TBI and FBI have run background checks on me and decided I can be trusted to carry a loaded handgun AND the BATF has issued me a C&R/FFL-03 so I can build a private gun collection without filling out the 4473s, the Tennessee Legislature seems to think I'd be a threat if I carried: An automatic knife, balisong, double edged knife or anything with a blade over 4" :banghead:
    Jack
     
  10. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    In NV it's a feloy to carry a bailsong or a switchblade, but only a misdemor to carry a pistol without a permit.

    -Bill
     
  11. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    Too dumb; didn't read.

    I stopped when they tried to imply that "tactical" pocket knives are military weapons used to kill the enemy in combat.
    Awesome.
     
  12. cracked butt

    cracked butt Member

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    I've had dozens of pocket knives and none of them were quite as useful as my spiderco delica. The 1-handed ninja death knife is very handy when you need to cut something and don't have a spare hand to open the knife.


    I never really understood why switchblades are illegal though either... probably the same reason why gun silencers are. We are entertained and led by idiots.
     
  13. CNYCacher

    CNYCacher Member

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    from the article:
    While sales of these knives were rising 25% each year, violent crime was dropping by 4%, and percentage of violent crime involving knives stayed basically the same.

    Where is the problem?
     
  14. wingnutx

    wingnutx Member

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    My Spyderco military model has been through hell (and Iraq) and back, and is still in fine shape.

    I carry it every day.
     
  15. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    This is the email I sent to the Editor at WSJ [email protected].


    sp82sbk.jpg
    This knife has all of the features attributed to "tactical" knives in the article titled "How New, Deadly Pocketknives Became a $1 Billion Business" by Mr. Fritz. The company that manufactures it was specifically mentioned in the article.

    The knife is designed and built to open with one hand, a feature that was presented as sinister in it's intent. This feature was developed so that the user could hold something securely with one hand while retrieving the knife and opening it without having to release the item needing to be cut. Interestingly, this feature has been available on pocket knives for over 40 years.

    The knife has a blade lock, another feature treated as intended to make the knife somehow "deadly". It's actual purpose is so that once the user has opened the blade it will not close without releasing the lock. This is a safety feature intended to protect the user from having the blade fold up on their fingers while the knife is in use. Locks on knives have been around for over 200 years.

    The knife has a 3 1/2 inch serrated blade, another feature depicted as solely intended to "inflict deadly damage" in the article. Serrations make the blade more effective at cutting rope, seat-belt webbing and other fibrous materials. They allow the user to expend less energy and apply less force when cutting these materials which makes the knife more controllable and less likely to slip. They haven't been around as long as locks, but then manufacturing technology didn't allow for their easy production until the turn of the turn of the century. (They also work well on steaks and chops.)

    It has what can be considered an "ergonomic" grip that somehow the article treated as a bad thing. A grip that fits the hand and renders the knife stable in use also makes using the knife less tiring as well as safer to use. If the hand does not slip nor turn in the grip it is because of the "ergonomic" design of the grip. (I can't imagine that any knife manufacturer would stay in business long if they failed to make a knife both comfortable and secure to use.)

    This is what Spyderco says about the D'Allara Rescue knife on their website -

    "One of New York's finest was an NYPD officer named John D'Allara. Officer D'Allara was a long-time Spyderco collector who owned and used nearly every model we've made. Sadly he was one of the many police officers who never came out of the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001. When we approached the release date of our new rescue knife, we thought it fitting to name it in his honor."

    Allow me to provide an example of why all these features can combine to make a "tactical" knife priceless.

    A friend of mine's brother Kristen was a Coast Guard diver and he wanted to give his brother a gift that would be useful. Being a diver myself I recommended a Spyderco Rescue. It could be opened with one hand. It would not fold up on his brother's fingers because it had a locking mechanism. It had a clip so that his brother could clip it onto his BC vest while diving and into his pocket when on deck. Because it was serrated it would cut through rope and webbing easily. It was also the same model I clipped to my BC when I was diving and I knew it would be an excellent backup knife for his brother in the event of a dive emergency.

    Time passed and my friend told me that Kristen had used the Spyderco Rescue while diving to cut some drift net that had "snagged on his gear" and that his brother sent his thanks for my having recommended it. "Great!", I thought since that was exactly why I carried the knife as well.

    A couple of weeks later my wife and I had a big Labor Day cookout and my friend brought his parents with him. Since I had never met them I was glad he had. As soon as they were introduced his mother threw her arms around me and kissed my cheek. To say the least I was startled. That is until she told me that the knife had saved her son's life. She told me that instead of a minor gear snag her son had become entangled in a drift net that was snagged on a buoy that he and his partner had been trying to free. Kristen's dive partner had just headed to the surface low on air when the current moved the ghostly mesh. The net wrapped around him trapping his legs and his right arm down along his side. This left Kristen trapped on the bottom with his air running out. He tried to reach the dive knife strapped on his right leg, but the net wouldn't let him free the knife from it's sheath. He then remembered the Rescue clipped to his BC. He could and did reach that with his left hand. He opened it with just one hand and used it's serrated blade to cut the net from around him and his gear. He made it to the surface before his air ran out. That was the "some drift net" and "snag" that my friend had reported to me.

    These tactical knife features, serrated blades, safety locks, one hand opening, ergonomic handles, all allow a knife to be much more useful as a tool and much safer to use than a pretty Case Peanut. If knife manufacturers had marketed them as Sport Utility Knives like auto manufactures renamed Crew Trucks SUVs to sell them to the public would it have made the features any more or less useful?

    Respectfully

    Mike Crenshaw

    PS, I'm the Deputy Safety Manager for a large environmental company. As a safety control we do not allow our employees working in the field to use folding knives that do not have locking blade features.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2006
  16. scout26

    scout26 Member

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    - Cracked Butt

    According to my father, switchblades were banned in the '50's to end the problem that was known as "Street Gangs". Since the net result of this legislation was the complete and total elimination of these so-called "Hoods" and other "Teenage Ne'er-do-wells" it's not unsurprising that you have never heard of them. That is why all of our inner-cities are (to quote El Tejon) "violence free petting zoos" and it's prefectly safe to walk any street, in a large major metropolitan area, any time of the day or night, in absolute and complete safety. :rolleyes:

    (I am not responsible for any sarcasm that drips onto you keyboard or other computer parts thereby ruining them.)
     
  17. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Member

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    Anyone remember the article from BBC several years ago which was a push from the medical practitioners to ban kitchen knives because they were pointlessly big for kitchenwork and menacing because they were designed to slice meat?

    Watch out, that 2" blade has microscopic swords on the blade and it cuts like a two-handed claymore! They make it seem like tactical knives are freaking Moonraker lasers that are high capacity knives capable of killing 30 people in rapid succession before requiring a tactical resharpening.

    Most of the general public fell for the assault weapons demonization since assault weapons were a love affair for a small minority of firearms owners and most people aren't familiar with them. However, almost all people are familiar with pocket knives in general and I'll find it much harder to believe that you can convince everyJoe that they have lightsaber-like knives being sold for $20 on ebay that'll cut through an SUV and thrown straight through six elementary schools end-to-end. Some of these articles are so outrageous, you'd swear they're clever satires. Sadly, :barf:
     
  18. strambo

    strambo Member

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    I love statistics. If violent crime overall dropped, that means that only the percentage of what tools were used shifted. It's entirely possible that less total numbers of "knife crimes" were committed in 2004, but even fewer by percentage were committed with other tools, so knives were a measley .5% more prominent then before because other methods were less prominent. :rolleyes:
     
  19. LAK

    LAK Member

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    Anyone who joked, scoffed and dismissed offhand what has been enacted into law in the U.K. ought to read this article well - it is just some of the early writing on the wall on this subject.

    ------------------------------------------

    http://ussliberty.org
    http://ssunitedstates.org
     
  20. Vairochana

    Vairochana Member

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    Once again look to Australia- for a while there it looked like we were going to head that way!:cuss:
     
  21. mete

    mete Member

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    Australia ? what about the 80 year old that just defeated a BG [armed with a knife] by getting a bigger knife ?
     
  22. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    "The city of Atlanta prohibits people from carrying pocketknives in public with blades longer than two inches. "

    Oops. :banghead: I didn't know that. :eek:

    Oh well, I enjoyed the 5-day conference on Peachtree not far from Underground.

    John
     
  23. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    East Coast Eloi at work.:rolleyes:

    Do these young girls wake up each day hoping to find something else to be afraid of?:confused:
     
  24. dfaugh

    dfaugh Member

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    Well, around here, the enforcement of the applicable laws is erratic at best. Most cops won't hassle you for any type of pocket knife. I carry 2 "butterfly" knives (one for each hand, if the other is occupied), and I have for years. Just like some of the others mentioned, they're handy because you can open them with one hand. I use them to open boxes, cut/strip wires, whatever. I also had to "surrender" them temporarily to the cops (Once when my now ex-girlfriend was having a problem with her ex-boyfriend, I arrived right after the cops, and he told them that I was probably carrying. Luckily, they didn't look in my truck, as I had a loaded shotgun in there. Yeah, he was an *****. And a couple time I went into Federal/County buildings, forgot to take the knives out of my pockets, so I hadda let them keep them 'til I left.)

    Now the interesting thing is that, in New York State, "butterfly" knives are illegal...They are classified as "gravity knives". But the cops/security people never said a word to me about them.

    Alot of cops I know, also carry switchblades, which are illegal (for civilians anyway), obviously not as a primary weapon, but as a "tool" for various cutting tasks (like cutting seat belts, in the case of a wreck, etc.)

    In short, some of the knife laws don't make any more sense than the AWB, for example. Restrictions on length, type or whatever, are just dumb. A knife is a knife is a knife.
     
  25. lance22

    lance22 Member

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    Here's Mine ...

    I keep it for beef, chicken, pork, unopened packages, and gardening.

    12800.jpg
     
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