Knife Laws

TN Governor signs Knife Law Preemption Bill

TN-Seal

Last week, Tennessee became the 7th state to enact State preemption of local knife laws.  This is a victory of sorts, as it moves the ball down the field, but it should have been so much more . . .

From the Knoxville News Sentinel:

“As passed by the Senate 27-3 last month, the bill repealed most of current state law on knives – including portions that now ban ownership of switchblades and, in some circumstances, carrying knives with blades longer than four inches.

Those provisions were slashed from the bill by (Rep.Vance Dennis’) amendment. All that remains is a section that says no local government can adopt an ordinance regulating knives that is more stringent than state law.”

State knife law preemption is the number 1 agenda item for KnifeRights.org. Having a uniform set of rules makes it easier for otherwise law abiding Tennessee residents to not run afoul of local ordinances.  Basically, if a knife is not a switchblade and has a blade under 4″, you are good to carry anywhere that is not designated as a “Statutory Criminal Protection Zone” (aka “Weapon Free Zone”) such as hospitals, schools, and libraries.

Existing TN knife law already carved out an exemption on blade length for those” engaged in lawful hunting and sporting activities,” so as a licensed fishing guide I was already in the clear with a longer sheath knife in most cases. However, I was looking forward to testing some automatic knives. Additionally, as a matter of principle I have strong aversion to being restricted in what tool I may use provided it is being used in an ethical and responsible manner.

This “victory” also has sucked the legislative momentum for revisiting the topic.  Until Sheriff Ashe of the TN Sheriffs Association (see Chris’s Article for more background on how the bill was gutted) is no longer in the picture, we are unlikely to make further progress.

Most importantly:

“Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said current state law effectively prohibits carrying a knife for self-defense purposes and the original bill would have allowed that.”

So as a Tennessee resident, I am still in the position that while I am licensed to carry a gun for self defense, I cannot carry a knife for the same purpose. But we all know that logic is not the Hoplophobes’ strong suit.

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