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Shipping Automatic Knives

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Al_C, Dec 26, 2005.

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  1. Al_C

    Al_C Member

    Dec 26, 2005
    Has anyone heard of problems getting automatic knives shipped by Fed Ex, UPS USPS that individuals have purchased on eBay, Gunbroker.com, internet dealers, etc. My lawyer and reading tell me it is a Federal Offense to transport automatic knives across state lines, regardless of how you do it. Seems a bit risky but I am an older guy and lots of things that didn't seem risky in the day, seem risky today. The laws are really outdated. I know they can be enforced but are they? This is an academic question & I have had no problems with any knife I've purchased on line but they have all been manual.
  2. Valkman

    Valkman Member

    Jul 31, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    I seriously doubt that - they sell them at every gun show and I doubt they were all made in that state! Microtech alone would have to have 50 plants to sell knives in every state! :p Now if you're talking full auto weapons he is correct - you must get ATF approval to go over state lines with those.

    I would suspect it's like guns - do not send a gun or knife somewhere where that item is illegal. Otherwise I'm sure they get sent all over every day.
  3. Al_C

    Al_C Member

    Dec 26, 2005
    Here is what is on many internet knife seller's sites:
    Automatic Knife Sales

    Knivesusa will comply to and adhere with the stated Federal laws and regulations that pertain to the sale of automatic knives. Thus, Automatic knives can only be sold to government, state and local, Military, Law Enforcement, Fire, EMT, Search and Rescue personnel with proper identification (per government sales restriction 15 US 1244 (2-4)* see below for further details). Please note some state and local governments may require or have additional restrictions,complying with those restrictions is the sole responsibility of the individual purchasing an automatic knife(s).

    Federal Regulations

    18 USC 1716 (g) (1-4)

    Provides this summary: Switchblade knives can be shipped to civilian and armed forces supply or procurement officers and employees of the Federal government ordering, procurement, or purchasing such knives in connection with activities in the Federal government; to supply or procurement officers in the National Guard, the Air National Guard or militia of the state or territory of the District of Columbia ordering, procurement or purchasing such knives in connection with the activities of such organization; supply or procurement officers or employees of the municipal government of the District of Columbia or the government of any state or territory of any county, city, or other political subdivision of a state or territory ordering, procuring or purchasing such knives in connection with the activities of the government.

    I'm asking whether anyone has heard of an unqualified buyer running afoul of this law.
  4. rnr4me

    rnr4me Member

    Dec 11, 2005
    Denver area
    I've always bought my auto's at a gun show. I've never wanted to try to buy one where they have to ship them to me. I'm probably unqualified too, but I've never done anything with them that is wrong. But I guess that's the same with everything. It's what you do with it, not what it is.

    So I guess, I'd say try to buy them else where. You're not going to be a bad person, but why attract attention.
  5. JJE

    JJE Member

    Jun 21, 2005
    SW Washington State!
    Federal law prohibits shipping autos across state lines unless they are going to a dealer or to one of the allowed classes of purchasers identified in Al_C's post. In practice, it isn't difficult to buy an auto from out of state. The biggest hassle with autos is that, if you actually use them, sooner or later they will break - even expensive ones. If you just need a spring, you can probably buy a new one. But if you want warranty service and ship it to the manufacturer, they are going to be very "by the book". Which means that if you aren't a dealer and can't come up with proper military or LEO ID, they won't send the knife back to you. Some guy at the gun show may not worry about federal laws, but Microtech isn't going to risk their whole business by dealing with unauthorized buyers.
  6. Valkman

    Valkman Member

    Jul 31, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    So what the heck is a dealer? Someone who says he's one? I make knives so am I a dealer? These laws seem ridiculous, especially when a waved Emerson is faster than any auto knife.
  7. JJE

    JJE Member

    Jun 21, 2005
    SW Washington State!
    The text of the federal law can be found through this page: http://pweb.netcom.com/~brlevine/sta-law.htm

    There's an exemption for: the manufacture, sale, transportation, distribution, possession, or introduction into interstate commerce, of switchblade knives pursuant to contract with the Armed Forces; so a "dealer" may need to do business with the Armed Forces. [Edit] Just re-read Al_C's post and it seems that you can call yourself a dealer if you offer these knives only to government minions.

    Well, the federal switchblade act is a great example of a bad law.
  8. 444

    444 Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    I have always wondered what it is about a law enforcement officers' job that would give him a good use for a switchblade knife: over and above anyone elses' job ?
    I am NOT trying to get into an Us vs. Them agument. I am not getting into the conspiracy theory about the rest of us being second class citizens. I honestly would love to know that the person who wrote that law envisioned a law enforcement officer doing with a switchblade knife ?
  9. 1911JMB

    1911JMB Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    People seem to think cops are some sort of abnormaly cool heros or something. Tv, especially sensationalised garbage like CSI, Cops and the news is to blame for this.
  10. gunfan

    gunfan Member

    Jan 4, 2004
    Western U.S.A
    I know that I have seen people ship them through the U.S. Mail. Don't worry about it. It is not going through U.S. Customs... or is it? If not, don't sweat the small stuff.

  11. ecos

    ecos Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    i think when they passed these laws before linerlocks (and other 1 handed opening knives) were commonplace and most people carried a lockback or slipjoint that needed 2 hands to open. i guess they felt fire, police, emt, etc may be required to open a knife onehanded...but then so do mountain climbers and many other activities.

    nowadays with all these new designs its easy to find a knife that opens 1 handed just as quickly as an automatic does.....the laws are a bit outdated(and stupid in the first place imo)
  12. tonytulipz

    tonytulipz member

    Dec 24, 2005

    I have bought MANY Automatics and OTF off ebay and from Direct Knife sites. Never any problem and always got knife in mail. And I am NOT a LEO or anyone special as laws sometimes make you think you need to be or are.

    How you carry it after it arrives.....thats where the Laws get tough.

    my $.02
  13. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN

    Welcome to the forum! I collect switchblades. The fed switchblade laws are very simple and there is very little room for wishful thinking. The short version is - As long as YOU are not shipping switchblades across state lines you have no federal law to violate.

    The shipper is in violation of the federal law restricting interstate commerce in switchblades (either 15 or 18 USC [http://pweb.netcom.com/~brlevine/fedswitch.txt]) if they mail (USPS) or use a common carrier (FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc.) to move a switchblade across state lines in commerce. Dealers break these laws over and over again. The bigger dealers also get caught from time to time and get their goods confiscated, are convicted, and pay hefty fines and sometimes go to jail for a year or two. I personally know 2 individuals that have been through this. The vast majority of folks dealing in switchblades never get caught and opeate below the radar selling them. As a defense, some "distributors" protect themselves by requiring their customers to sign a affidavit claiming they are bonafide dealers selling to the government.

    The recipiant of a switchblade has violated no federal laws because the federal laws are written against the seller shipping across state lines. The only wrinkle is if you intend to resell or purchase in volume you could be accused of conspiracy.

    If your state prohibits posession of switchblades then you are in violation of that state law if you are not authorized by the state to posess. If your state does not have any laws preventing posession then you have no laws to violate.

    Some states have laws prohibiting posession, some restrict, some have no laws WRT posession of switchblades at all. The state I live in is considered a "Collector State". As long as it's in a collection then posession is defensable.

    The whole history of the interstate commerce ban on switchblades is a model for banning assault weapons. Politicians got scared by movies depicting violence involving switchblades and banned their sale across state lines.
  14. ktd

    ktd Member

    Mar 5, 2003
    out north and west
    so what's the legality of selling kits? I gather that is how those ads in the back of gun magazines do it. Sort like how snubbie revolvers are often imported with long barrels and 2 in barrels are installed after.
  15. 444

    444 Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    "i guess they felt fire, police, emt, etc may be required to open a knife onehanded...but then so do mountain climbers and many other activities"

    I am no lawyer and I don't know a whole lot about knife laws. But, I have read stuff before that specifically mentions police officers and the military, but not firefighters, EMTs etc. I work as a firefighter/paramedic and I KNOW that I have occasion to use a knife that I can open with one hand. But I always wondered what aspect of law enforcement requires the use of a knife you can open with one hand. We all need a knife like that at one time or another, but why specifically cops ?
    All that being said, I own a number of switchblade knives, I have carried them at work, and used them frequently in front of cops. As was mentioned, the switchblade knife has been rendered obsolete by the Emerson WAVE. It is much faster and easier to use. But, that is the beauty of the stupid laws enacted by our keepers. They come up with something stupid that accomplishes nothing, then someone else immediately comes up with a legal way to accomplish the same thing: and, the new way is frequently better than the old way.
  16. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    If you substitute the word "switchblade" with "assault weapon" or "post 86 machine gun" you'll have an immediate feel for switchblade history. For more detail a little history is in order to bring everyone up to speed on the silly restrictions on switchblades.


    by Bernard Levine (c)1990
    published in KNIFE WORLD August 1990

    AUGUST 12, 1958, a date that has faded into obscurity, the
    Congress of the United States enacted Public Law 85-623, an
    "act to prohibit the introduction, or manufacture for
    introduction, into interstate commerce of switchblade knives,
    and for other purposes," and sent it on to President
    Eisenhower for his signature. Under this act, "The term
    'switchblade knife' meant 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."
    The maximum penalty for each violation of this law was a
    $2,000 fine and five years in jail.

    It is not within the constitutional authority of the United
    States to ban manufacture or possession of a class of item,
    although the individual states have almost unlimited
    authority to do so. What the federal government may do,
    according to Article I, Section VIII, Clause 3 of the
    Constitution, is "To regulate commerce with foreign nations,
    and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes."
    Using the authority of this "Interstate Commerce" clause,
    Congress did the very next thing to banning switchblade

    In 1958 only two American companies still made
    switchblades: Imperial and Colonial. Both were then in
    Providence, Rhode Island, and so telling them that they could
    not make switchblades for sale in interstate commerce was
    effectively the same as telling them not to make switchblades
    at all.
    Up until 1954, Schrade-Walden in upstate New York had been
    the leading manufacturer of switchblades. That year the state
    of New York had banned their manufacture and sale, so
    Imperial, the parent company of Schrade-Walden, had taken
    over the firm's switchblade production.
    The George Schrade Knife Co. of Connecticut had also been a
    major domestic supplier of switchblades. This firm was sold
    to Boker of New Jersey in 1956 (George Schrade had died in
    1940). However both New Jersey and Connecticut banned
    switchblades shortly after New York had done so, and thus
    only the two Providence firms were still in the switchblade
    business in 1958.


    The debate in Congress over the bills to ban switchblades
    from interstate congress (in 1958 there were four versions in
    the House and one in the Senate) had the surreal quality
    inevitable when immoral men put on a public show of enforcing
    morality. As in the present debate over "assault" rifles,
    Congressmen, media tycoons, and big-city police chiefs
    indulged in hysterical fits of fabricated sensationalism.
    Faced with this onslaught in 1958, most reasonable men kept
    silent and went along, out of fear of being labeled "pro-
    criminal." Even the National Rifle Association knuckled
    under, then still believing in the power of appeasement.
    To its credit, the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA)
    spoke out against the proposed ban, recognizing it both as
    unreasonable in itself, and as setting a dangerous precedent
    for additional bans. IWLA Conservation Director J. W. Penfold
    wrote, "Many of our State divisions and local chapters have
    firmly resisted State or municipal legislation which would
    restrict ownership and use of sporting arms in efforts to
    control the ownership of weapons by thugs. Generally I
    believe our membership does not believe that such legislation
    would achieve its objective but would hinder and thwart the
    law-abiding citizens in his use of arms for sporting
    Not surprisingly, supporters of the ban later quoted a few
    lines of Penfold's letter out of context, in order to convey
    the false impression that the IWLA supported the ban.
    New York State Senator Frank J. Pino of Brooklyn had a glib
    rebuttal for the sportsman angle. He testified, "Actually,
    these knives are, I would say inherently dangerous, they have
    only one purpose. They are just deadly. They are lethal
    weapons, and they are suited for crime, that is all they are
    suited for. So that the sportsmen really have nothing
    substantial to complain about. But they do complain. It is an
    emotional thing with them, somehow.

    "I know we have had their complaints, too, in connection
    with a bill which I have had in the legislature to limit the
    sale of ammunition in the city of New York...
    "This is a problem that we have in all of the big cities.
    And it is a question of weighing the conveniences of a group
    against the welfare and the health and the lives of many,
    many people. That is all it is."

    No, Senator Pino, it is a question of rights versus
    tyranny. Your arguments are the same ones used to justify
    concentration camps. They "inconvenience" a group, to promote
    the "welfare" of the tyrannical majority.


    The only prominent public agencies with the courage to
    oppose the anti-switchblade measure were the two that would
    be charged with enforcing it: the Department of Justice and
    the Department of Commerce. They argued that the measure
    would be both costly to the government and burdensome to law-
    abiding citizens, yet it would accomplish no useful purpose.
    Moreover, it would extend the powers of the federal
    government into areas that had hitherto been the exclusive
    domain of the states. They were joined in their opposition by
    the Bureau of the Budget.
    Deputy Attorney General William P. Rogers wrote, "The
    Department of Justice is unable to recommend enactment of
    this legislation.

    "The committee may wish to consider whether the problem to
    which this legislation is addressed is one properly within
    the police powers of the various States. As you know, Federal
    law now prohibits the interstate transportation of certain
    inherently dangerous articles such as dynamite and
    nitroglycerin on carriers also transporting passengers. The
    instant measures would extend the doctrine upon which such
    prohibitions are based by prohibiting the transportation of a
    single item which is not inherently dangerous but requires
    the introduction of a wrongful human element to make it so.
    "Switchblade knives in the hands of criminals are, of
    course, potentially dangerous weapons. However, since they
    serve useful and even essential purposes in the hands of
    persons such as sportsmen, shipping clerks, and others
    engaged in lawful pursuits, the committee may deem it
    preferable that they be regulated at the State rather than
    the Federal level."

    Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks wrote, "The general
    intent of these legislative proposals appears to be to
    improve crime prevention by control of the use of the
    switchblade knife as a weapon of assault. This approach gives
    rise to certain objections. One is that, at best, it is an
    indirect approach which addresses itself to only one of many
    implements useable by an assailant. This casts doubt upon the
    resulting effectiveness in the reduction of crime in relation
    to its enforcement problems...
    "While this proposed legislation recognizes that there are
    legitimate uses that have need for switchblade knives, the
    exemptions would appear to assume that the most significant
    of these uses lie in Government activities. To us, this
    ignores the needs of those who derive and augment their
    livelihood from the 'outdoor' pursuits of hunting, fishing,
    trapping, and of the country's sportsmen, and many others. In
    our opinion there are sufficient of these that their needs
    must be considered."

    The Department of Defense, by contrast, pusillanimously
    endorsed the ban, but only on condition that it be declared
    exempt itself. It was, as were all other local, state, and
    federal government agencies.


    Oddly, most of the backers of the anti-switchblade bills
    agreed with Secretary Weeks that prohibiting switchblades
    would accomplish little in the way of curtailing crime. They
    readily admitted that their measure was largely symbolic.
    Being politicians, however, they knew that empty but highly
    visible symbolic acts garner far more votes than low-profile
    but effective reforms. They also knew that it was politically
    safer to criminalize the actions of a couple of small
    manufacturers, rather than to punish the juvenile delinquency
    of the children of some of their constituents.
    The most persistent advocate of a switchblade ban was
    Representative James J. Delaney of New York City, author of
    the first federal anti-switchblade bill back in 1954. That
    first effort never made it out of committee.
    In his testimony before the House commerce committee on
    April 17, 1958, Delaney stated, "Every day our newspapers
    report numerous muggings and attacks, most of them involving
    knives. Can we sit by complacently and ignore the bloodshed
    in our streets? Doing away with switchblades will not be a
    cure-all for the crime wave sweeping the Nation, but it will
    remove one of the favorite weapons of our juvenile and
    criminal element.
    "... it was not until about 1949 or 1950 that these things
    came into common usage. In the gathering of juvenile gangs
    and clans, nearly every one of them has a switchblade. It is
    a ritual with some of them to carry switchblades. It is not
    only the boys, but I was surprised to find that a great
    number of the girls carry them also."

    Congressman Delaney's mind was made up, so it probably
    would have been pointless to confuse him with the facts.
    Switchblades came into common use in the United States, not
    around 1950 as he stated, but around 1850. After the turn of
    the century, thanks to the inventive genius of George Schrade
    (and the "protection" of the Tariff Acts of 1891 and 1897),
    American made switchblades of all sizes became popular and

    Another backer of the ban had an even more creative view of
    history than Delaney. U.S. Senator Frederick G. Payne of
    Maine asked a witness, "Isn't it true that that type of
    knife, switchblade knife, in its several different forms, was
    developed, actually, abroad, and was developed by the so-
    called scum, if you want to call it, or the group who are
    always involved in crime?" The witness, New York State
    Justice John E. Cone, co-founder of the Committee to Ban
    Teen-Age Weapons, enthusiastically agreed.

    The most outspoken proponent of a ban chose a sexual
    metaphor to express his anxieties. Representative Sidney R.
    Yates of Illinois testified, "Vicious fantasies of
    omnipotence, idolatry... barbaric and sadistic atrocities,
    and monstrous violations of accepted values spring from the
    cult of the weapon and the switchblade knife is included in
    "Minus switchblade knives and the distorted feeling of
    power they beget -- power that is swaggering, reckless, and
    itching to express itself in violence -- our delinquent
    adolescents would be shorn of one of their most potent means
    of incitement to crime."

  17. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    -continued from previous post -


    So how could the United States of America, the land of the
    free and the home of the brave, have sunk so low as to submit
    to these demagogues, to feel obligated to "save" its citizens
    from an everyday item sold here regularly for the past
    hundred years, and in common use for the past fifty? The
    answer can be found in the most basic philosophical
    underpinnings of our country.

    From its establishment in 1789, the American republic
    itself, as well as its promises of Life, Liberty, and the
    Pursuit of Happiness, have meant different things to
    different of its citizens. The most important of these
    differences can be traced to two fundamentally different and
    largely irreconcilable philosophical outlooks.
    Two centuries ago, these differences were widely recognized
    and understood, because they very nearly prevented the
    Constitutional Convention from reaching any conclusion at
    all. Today the differences are just as deep, and just as
    pervasive, but most of us tend to see them only in regard to
    specific contemporary issues, rather than as more general
    matters of philosophy. The conflicts over such divisive
    issues as abortion, gun control, drug prohibition,
    affirmative action, environmental protection, and industrial
    policy can never be settled by reasoned debate, because the
    adherents to each side of these issues do not share a common
    philosophy. Instead the resolution of these issues will be
    dictated, unsatisfactorily to all, by the naked exercise of
    political power: the tyranny of popular or Congressional
    majorities inflamed by media hysteria, or the arbitrary
    absolutism of the courts.
    The two irreconcilable views of the nature of our republic
    that underlie these issues today have been a part of the
    republic since the beginning. A clear exposition of these two
    views is set forth by University of Alabama professor Forrest
    McDonald in his 1985 book, Novus Ordo Seclorum, The
    Intellectual Origins of the Constitution. On pages 70-74 he
    explains the differences between what he calls puritanical
    republicanism, on the one hand, and agrarian republicanism,
    on the other. First, however, he elucidates their common
    He says that in a true republic, a system of "rule by the
    public," the vital principle is public virtue (from virtus,
    manly strength). In Professor McDonald's words, public virtue
    "entailed firmness, courage, endurance, industry, frugal
    living, strength, and above all, unremitting devotion to the
    weal of the public's corporate self, the community of
    virtuous men. It was at once individualistic and communal:
    individualistic in that no member of the public could be
    dependent upon any other and still be reckoned a member of
    the public; communal in that every man gave himself totally
    to the good of the public as a whole. If public virtue
    declined, the republic declined, and if it declined too far,
    the republic died.

    "Philosophical historians had worked out a regular life
    cycle, or more properly death cycle, of republics. Manhood
    gave way to effeminacy, republican liberty to licentiousness.
    Licentiousness, in turn, degenerated into anarchy, and
    anarchy inevitably led to tyranny." Thus far did the two
    republican philosophies agree.
    "What distinguished puritanical republicanism from the
    agrarian variety was that the former sought a moral solution
    to the problem of the mortality of republics (make better
    people), whereas the latter believed in a socioeconomic-
    political solution (make better arrangements).
    "Almost nothing was outside the purview of puritanical
    republican government, for every matter that might in any way
    contribute to strengthening or weakening the virtue of the
    public was a thing of concern to the public -- a res publica
    -- and it was subject to regulation by the public. [Puritan]
    Republican liberty was totalitarian: one was free to to do
    that, and only that, which was in the interest of the public,
    the liberty of the individual being subsumed in the freedom
    or independence of his political community."

    This totalitarian view of a fragile and tottering republic,
    one that would be undermined by the slightest private
    indiscretion, one that could only be preserved by an
    aggressive policing of every individual's private morality in
    every minute particular, predominated in Puritan New England,
    especially Massachusetts. It also found favor in the areas of
    the South, especially parts of Virginia, where the
    evangelical Great Awakening took hold. Most southerners,
    however, adhered to the agrarian view of republicanism.
    In the agrarian view, again quoting McDonald, "Virtue meant
    manliness, and manliness meant independence... the
    necessary independence could be had only if a man owned
    enough land, unencumbered by debts or other obligations, to
    provide himself and his family with all their material needs;
    and this independence... was in the last analysis measured
    by his ability to bear arms and use them in his own
    quarrels... In sum, ownership of the land begat independence,
    independence begat virtue, and virtue begat republican
    liberty... In the southern scheme of things, private virtue,
    in the rigorous sense in which it was defined by the Yankees,
    was unnecessary to the maintenance of republican liberty. The
    arch agrarian John Taylor of Caroline [1753-1824] put it
    succinctly: 'The more a nation depends for its liberty on the
    qualities of individuals, the less likely it is to retain it.
    By expecting public good from private virtue, we expose
    ourselves to public evils from private vices.'"
    If Taylor were to return today, he would nod sagely at our
    drug "crisis" and say, "end the prohibition and you will end
    the crisis." The puritans among us (currently a majority,
    especially in the mass media) would gasp with horror, and
    predict the imminent demise of our republic.

    McDonald continues, "Agrarian republicanism was therefore
    essentially negative in the focus of its militance: it
    demanded vigilance only in regard to certain kinds of men and
    institutions which, as its adherents viewed history, had
    proved inimical or fatal to liberty... standing armies,
    priests, bishops, aristocrats, luxury, excises, speculators,
    jobbers, paper shufflers, monopolists, bloodsuckers, and
    Agrarian republicans, in theory anyway, viewed their
    republic as well-founded and durable. The puritan view of a
    fragile and tottering republic baffled them. Private
    morality, or a lack thereof, simply had no effect on an
    agrarian republic's overall vitality. The only kind of
    behavior that could endanger their republic was a calculated
    self-serving attack on one of its fundamental institutions:
    private property, equality before the law, free markets, the
    right to keep and bear arms.
    Puritan republicans, by contrast, view every sin, indeed
    every temptation to sin, as dire threats to their republic.
    Their response in every case is simple and direct. First ban
    the sin. Then, just to be on the safe side, ban the
    temptation, too.

    This is not at all a left-versus-right issue. Militant
    puritans dominate the extremes on both sides. Those on the
    right who would ban abortion and those on the left who would
    ban hand guns both aspire to a puritan police state that will
    regulate the behavior of their neighbors and themselves --
    although puritan leaders often exempt themselves from their
    own rules.
    An agrarian, by contrast, might say, "if you oppose
    abortion, don't have one; if you oppose hand guns, don't own
    one; if you oppose drugs, don't use them. He is willing to
    live and let live, unless someone attacks him or his


    In the 1950s, America's puritan republican zeal, ever
    watchful for temptation and sin, turned its basilisk gaze on
    to pocketknives. The 1950s, a time of happy nostalgia for
    people too young to remember the decade, saw the almost
    unchallenged dominance of the puritan outlook. That was a
    time when the fortunes of the agrarian viewpoint had fallen
    so low that hardly a single public figure North or South
    dared to espouse it.

    There is a fascinating double standard in puritanism, an
    unwritten rule that the enforcers of private morality are
    exempt from its strictures. This applies equally to private
    life (such as J. Edgar Hoover's homosexuality or John F.
    Kennedy's adultery) and to public pronouncements. Today the
    proponents of "assault" rifle and hand gun bans simply make
    up their statistics (see my letter citing examples in the
    October 1989 American Rifleman, page 18), and their
    predecessors did the same thing about switchblades in the

    As early as 1953, Representative Delaney "made a 1-man
    review and addressed inquiries to the police heads of some 40
    of our largest and medium-sized cities. The response
    established beyond doubt that switchblades are commonly
    involved in crimes in smaller cities, as well as in the
    metropolitan areas."
    In 1957 and 1958, similar "surveys" were undertaken by
    Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver for the Senate Judiciary
    Committee's Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency.
    These surveys asked police chiefs for hard data on
    switchblades used in crimes, especially juvenile crimes.
    Not quite half of the chiefs responded, furnishing the
    coon-skin-capped crime buster overall crime statistics, total
    juvenile arrest statistics, and enthusiastic letters of
    support assuring the senator that switchblade knives were no
    doubt involved in practically all of these tens of thousands
    of incidents. Kefauver quoted excerpts from some of these
    letters, happily oblivious to their irony.
    San Francisco police chief Francis J. Ahern wrote "'... a
    substantial amount of our juvenile crimes of violence involve
    the use of this type of knife.' He further stated that since
    the enactment of a local ordinance, the use of such knives in
    crimes has diminished."
    San Francisco sure was lucky to have such law-abiding
    violent criminals.

    Senator Kefauver may have had no sense of irony, but at
    least he knew a little more knife history than his colleagues
    on Capitol Hill. He remarked toward the close of his
    statement, "Invented by George Schrade in 1898 [actually
    1892], the pushbutton opening knife was a useful article
    produced on a limited scale."
    Half a page earlier in the same statement, Kefauver quoted
    Boston police chief James F. Daley as having written, "...
    these weapons are specifically designed as a vicious
    insidious weapon of assault, and can be devoted to no
    legitimate use in the everyday life of law-abiding citizens."

    Having no sense of irony did not worry the crusading
    senator, and neither did having no data. He stated, "The
    following statistics give a general indication of the
    increase in the use of weapons by juveniles. Although no
    statistics are available as to the ratio of these switchblade
    knives and stilettos to other weapons, it is believed to be
    "In New York City in 1956, there was an increase of 92.1
    percent of those under 16 arrested for the possession of
    dangerous weapons, one of the most common kind being the
    switchblade knife; and also in New York 36.9 [percent] of the
    felonious assaults, many involving use of switchblade knives,
    were committed by those under 16. On the national level, 29.6
    percent of the total arrested for carrying dangerous weapons
    was attributable to young persons under the age of 18. A more
    shocking and striking figure is that 43.2 percent of the
    total robberies committed in the United States last year were
    by persons under 21 years of age. A switchblade knife is very
    often part of the perpetrator's equipment in a robbery."
    If Senator Kefauver had lived longer (he died in 1963), he
    might have become a writer for Saturday Night Live, or else a
    co-author of the classic work, How to Lie with Statistics.

    Only one police chief in the country had the professional
    integrity and poor political judgement to compile actual
    statistics on switchblades. This was W. E. Parker, the acting
    chief of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department. That
    Lt. Col. Parker was a career policeman, rather than a
    political appointee, probably accounted for his naive
    Parker reported that in the entire year 1956, a total of 15
    switchblade knives were used in assaults and robberies in
    Kansas City (just over one per month). An additional 80
    switchblades were taken from suspects booked for
    investigation of crimes (well under two per week).
    "In addition," he wrote, "there were 10 to 12 cases in
    which these knives were used by one juvenile to take money
    from another [less than one per month], and during the same
    period there were 6 cases of cuttings [one every two months]
    as well as several cases where knives were thrown by one
    juvenile at another." In a city of nearly half a million
    population, these three dozen switchblade crimes,
    misdemeanors, and incidents of horseplay in one year hardly
    constituted a crime wave, let alone a crisis.

    These lonely facts from Kansas City did not interest the
    Congress. They found much more fascinating the lurid
    sensationalist stories and editorials in Life magazine, the
    Saturday Evening Post, many daily newspapers, and even on
    radio and television "news."
    These articles were timed to coincide with the
    congressional switchblade hearings. They were calculated to
    convince frightened credulous puritans in and out of congress
    that the country was awash in blood from frenetic waves of
    juvenile switchblade violence -- that the republic was
    tottering. Congressman Yates said, "newspapers and magazines
    are filled with descriptions of gang fights, holdups and
    stabbings, committed by teenagers, and running through almost
    all such stories is the switchblade knife. The gruesome
    similarity in detail related by these stories is relieved
    only by the horror that each one reflects individually... The
    switchblade knife has become the symbol, as well as the
    weapon, of the teen-age gang."
    As news reporting this material was a travesty, even more
    luridly overblown than firearms stories are today. As
    propaganda, however, these articles passed the only important
    test. They worked.

    *** END ***
  18. SAG0282

    SAG0282 Member

    Sep 23, 2003
    Pierce Co. WA
    Pretty stupid laws all around....I can carry my loaded GLOCK 20 but not a knife negligibly faster then a CRKT M16. Brilliant! That being said, someone close to me brought one back from Iraq, a nice auto Benchmade, and sent it to himself to give to me from NC without a problem. The clerk even knew what was in them, knew it wasn't perfectly legal, didnt care.
  19. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    Yup, almost the only people that "worry" about switchblades are politicians. The American Knife and Tool Institute has discussed trying to get the fed law changed, but like discussing changing the machinegun laws in the gun community the knife community has realized that there'd be nearly no way to be able to do it without enormous resources poured into it.
  20. Crunker1337

    Crunker1337 Member

    Apr 12, 2007
    I hate to necromance, I really do, but...
    Suppose you purchase a knife (one knife, not many) out of state, and then bring it back home, traveling across state lines without the intent to resell it.

    Is this a crime? Would it be considered "shipping"?
  21. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    "considered" by who?
  22. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2002
    South Carolina
    For any folks in Iraq, do NOT try to ship one back unless you can get a Form 602 filled out - the knife gets taken and your chain of command gets a MP blotter report on you. If you try to take it with you going home, you will be trying to sneak it past US Customs. Bad idea. :(
  23. sidheshooter

    sidheshooter Member

    Dec 30, 2007
    For whatever it is worth, there is a reasonably well known knife dealer (doing a lot of mail order/inet sales) from a state next door to mine that allows possession. He used to be a regular at the big, fairground gunshow in my town (in a state that expressly forbids possession).

    Things were all hunky-dory for the first couple of years, and then the undercover cops came to the show, charged the guy and confiscated several thousand dollars worth of autos.

    Haven't seen the fellow since–a bummer, since I typically shopped his table for the non-auto stuff. I can't blame him for never stepping foot into this town again, but he was smoking dope to think that he could set up shop and just ask folks if they were LEO and get away with it for long.

    Still, and in all, it's a stupid law (both state and fed), IMHO, but that's the way it is. Plenty of autos find their way into my state, btw; given that one can buy them legally by discretely (cash) shopping over the border on either side.

    I wouldn't carry one in public (yes, that's what either my CQC7 or CQC8 is for), but if I really wanted to get my jollies as a regional scofflaw, it would be pretty easy to do, from what I've seen.
  24. Aka Zero

    Aka Zero Member

    Jul 23, 2008
    In MO carry is illegal, collecting is not. Ordered a few little OTF's in the mail no problems.

    Would never spend to much. To many knives I could carry to spend money on once I can't.
  25. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    Aka Zero,

    Whether possession or carry of an automatic knife is illegal or not depends upon the state and local criminal code. Some it's legal to possess, but not carry. Some it's legal to possess and carry. Some it's legal to possess, but not sell. The variability on the switchblade laws are as varied as the states and localities available so it behooves the individual to read the law in their locality and state to guide their actions.
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