Broad Support From Lawmakers and Owners of Folding Knives Saves Your Right To Use Man's Oldest Tool

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American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) fought intense legal and legislative battle to clarify switchblade law and prevent U.S. citizens' potential criminal charges.

American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) fought intense legal and legislative battle to clarify switchblade law and prevent U.S. citizens' potential criminal charges.

Your folding pocketknives permitted in your state are still legal to use. Until the House and the full Senate passed H.R. 2892 on October 20, that issue was very much in doubt. After nearly five months of intense, AKTI-led legal and lobbying efforts, the U.S. Senate approved the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill for FY 2010 (with a very important amendment) and sent it on to the President for his signature.

"Very active support came from Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, Senator Orin Hatch of Utah, Senator John Cornyn of Texas and many other federal lawmakers in making a change to the 1958 Switchblade Act that will clearly protect the rights of more than 35 million knife owners and users to carry the folding knives that are important tools in their everyday lives," reports Goldie Russell, President of A.G. Russell Knives, Rogers, AR and President of the American Knife & Tool Institute.

From 2005-2008, U.S. Customs issued four separate ruling letters that declared assisted-openers were not switchblades and could be imported. Then in May 2009 Customs proposed to revoke those earlier letters and included new definitions of a switchblade knife. These definitions were so broad that AKTI feared virtually every folding knife would become illegal under interstate commerce rules.

AKTI responded by arousing an entire industry. They created a coalition of concerned groups including the NRA, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, and Knife Rights; reached out to millions of ordinary, law-abiding citizens who are regular knife users; and allied with a powerful group of Washington, D.C. lawmakers who recognized the threat to all folding knives and their owners.

In a time of industry bailouts and 10 percent unemployment, the U.S. Customs' action would have virtually killed an industry with $1 billion in annual sales at the manufacturing/importer level, and a vital tool supply source for millions of Americans. "AKTI-produced revenue and employment studies show that the proposed Customs' action would have threatened 80 percent of the revenue of the privately-held companies in the sporting knife industry and nearly 4,000 direct jobs, and jeopardized every person who carries or uses a common folding knife," said Jan Billeb, AKTI Executive Director.

AKTI estimates more than 35 million law-abiding Americans carry and use folding knives. They range from EMTs, police officers and firefighters to construction workers to hunters and fishers. Throw millions more hikers, bikers, boaters, and gardeners in the mix and you've got huge social implications. Custom knife makers, knife collecting and knife shows which promote knives as art and as man's oldest tool were also threatened.

U.S. Customs became a supporter of Senate Amendment 1447 co-sponsored by 20 U.S. Senators that clarified the Federal Switchblade Act. Folding knives with a blade bias toward closure will not be considered switchblades. As a practical matter, U.S. Customs recognized that the clarification would actually help their field agents more easily evaluate knives with multiple and unique design features.

Turning this understanding into law meant convincing U.S. Customs that millions of Americans were deeply concerned about their proposed changes. Lawmakers needed to understand the issues. The result was negotiated statutory language that will solve the problem.

But remember, if you own, carry or use any type of folding knife, you are still bound by the statutes governing them in your state.

For more information, visit the AKTI website at

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