I came across this article from Nashville Public Radio recently, “Switchblades Return to Tennessee As Knife Rights Movement Quietly Grows” detailing the scene in the state now that it’s antiquated switchblade ban has been stricken from the books. It tries to remain balanced, but some “anti” bias does creep in.
Throughout the article, the authors assume that any automatic knife is exclusively a weapon, probably because most people think of Italian stiletto style knives (pictured above) when they hear the term “switchblade.” Of course, this is not always the case. A push-button deploying knife is just another way of opening a blade, with no practical difference from other one hand openers. They can range the gamut from those designed for combat to mundane box cutting tools.
The article does not see things this way. Check out this quote equating automatic knives to “high-powered rifles.”
From the article at nashvillepublicradio.org:
The monthly Bill Goodman Gun & Knife Show at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds has just about everything a weapons collector could want: Handguns and high-powered rifles, tomahawks and tasers – in colors that range from survivalist camo to hot pink.
But perhaps the most surprising find is at the table of dealer Eva Simmons: a 1970s-era switchblade, the kind with a black-and-silver handle and a curlicue guard. These were illegal in Tennessee until recently.
The article does mention that knife crime today is not what it once was. Terry Ashe, Executive Director of the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, thinks he knows why knives are not as attractive to criminal element as they once were.
“It’s not as common as it was years ago because there are more guns now,” he says.
Frankly, I’m skeptical of anything Terry Ashe says. This is the same guy who managed to gut Tennessee’s first attempt at repealing their switchblade ban, feeding the emotional frenzy by saying a switchblade sounds just like a shotgun being racked.
The only number the article cites is for the last year of data available, with no numbers to support the assertion that knife crime is declining. Of course, raw numbers only tell part of the story. It would be interesting to see the actual percentages of violent crime involving knives going back to the original passing of TN’s switchblade ban, to see if the decrease coincides with the already falling crime rate, or if the percentage has indeed gotten smaller.
I think the big takeaway from the article is that we have some educating to do with regards to the general public’s perception of automatic knives.
Again, from the article:
“I’ve pulled out a knife before and opened it up and somebody said, ‘Ooh, why are you carrying a switchblade?’ And it’s like, it wasn’t even a switchblade. It was a manual knife,” says Chris Tenpenny, who owns Nashville Sporting Arms. “You know, there’s just a lot of strange perceptions out there.”
Speaking of perception, the term “switchblade” has all the connotations of “assault weapon” to those who are not versed on the subject. I prefer the term “push-button knife” as even use of the word “automatic” can connote a connection to guns.
The article may not be as neutral as I would like, but it is nice to see in the press anyway. You can listen to it using the Soundcloud player below, or follow this link to the transcript.