AKTI Introduces “Freedom of Commerce Act”, would repeal Federal Switchblade Act

Left to Right: Sen. Mike Crapo, Jan Billeb (AKTI Exec. Driector), CJ Buck (AKTI and Buck Knives President) (photo via AKTI)

One of the primary reasons that TTAK endorsed the Knife Owner Protection Act (sponsored by Knife Rights) over the American Knife and Tool Institute sponsored Interstate Transport Act, is that the latter did not include a repeal of the Federal Switchblade Act. As of BLADE Show, it was my understanding based on conversations with senior members of AKTI, that they did not yet feel critical mass had been reached for FSA repeal.

Whether they were playing a longer-game close to the vest, or have reconsidered based on successful switchblade legalization legislation enacted in recent months (Michigan, Illinois, Colorado), the bottom line is that AKTI has decided that the time is now right to try for FSA repeal as well.

To that end, they have partnered with Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) to introduce the “Freedom of Commerce Act”, which would repeal the Federal Switchblade Act, allowing for consumers to purchase whatever automatic knives which are legal in their jurisdiction, and allowing for the importation of automatic knives and components.  (details below the jump)

AKTI Press Release:

September 7, 2017 – Cody, WY – The American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) and Senator Mike Crapo today announced the introduction of the Freedom of Commerce Act, legislation that will repeal the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 (15 U.S.C. § 1241 – 1244) and allow consumers to purchase any automatic knife legal in their state, regardless of where it was manufactured. The legislation will also remove burdensome prohibitions on free trade, interstate commerce, and consumer choice.

“In states allowing the possession of switchblades, it is imperative that law-abiding citizens and sportsmen have the ability to buy and sell the tools vital to their trade,” said Crapo.  “This measure would remove one of the many federal regulatory burdens that have hindered manufacturing growth, interstate commerce and consumer practices for far too long.”
Automatic knives, which are defined based on their opening mechanism, are used primarily in the professional trades and by outdoor recreationalists. In both of these examples, the use of a one-handed knife that opens automatically is often critical to effectively and safely accomplishing the task. To illustrate, a roofer may carry an automatic knife in his pocket as part of his customary tools. While perched on a ladder, he only has one hand to open and lock the blade, making the automatic open a necessary feature. This same example could be used for a fisherman, who is holding his catch with his left hand while simultaneously using an automatic knife to cut the line of a swallowed hook with his right hand. In both cases, the task may be technically achievable with other tools, but is accomplished more quickly and more safely with an automatic knife.
To advance the legislation, AKTI will be working with the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Mike Crapo, R-ID, to educate Members of Congress on what the Federal Switchblade Act is, how it hurts free trade, consumer choice, and interstate commerce. AKTI will be working with policymakers to explain the following:
What is the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958?
The Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 (FSA) leverages the federal government’s interstate commerce power to prohibit the purchase, sale, and trade of automatic knives between any and all of the 50 states, Washington, DC, any U.S. territories, and any place outside thereof.
The FSA does:
  • prohibit the possession of automatic knives in U.S. territories and on Native American Reservations;
  • prohibit a consumer from purchasing any automatic knife not manufactured in the state in which they are making the purchase;
  • prohibit the importation of all foreign automatic knives, as well as knife parts, even if the manufacturer or importer is a U.S.-based company.
The FSA does not:
  • prohibit the possession or sale of automatic knives within any U.S. state or the District of Columbia;
  • apply to contracts entered into by the Department of Defense.
The FSA hurts consumers and knife manufacturers throughout the United States by using federal law to:
  • limit consumer choice;
  • create unnecessary burdens on manufacturers and retailers by prohibiting most out-of-state sales;
  • impose a barrier on states’ rights to legislate the availability of a tool within their borders;
  • infringe on free trade by outlawing the importation of automatic knives.
The Freedom of Commerce Act will: 
  • repeal 15 U.S.C. § 1241 – 1244;
  • allow domestic manufacturers to ship and sell their products to buyers located in other states;
  • permit the importation of automatic knives and knife parts.
The legislation will not:
  • supplant or amend current state laws on automatic (or any other) knives;
  • legalize the possession or carry of automatic knives (except for Native American Reservations and U.S. territories).
“Drafting legislation is always a balance between safisfying an emotional drive to fix something, and finding common sense mechanisms that will truly deliver a solution,” said CJ Buck, President of Buck Knives and AKTI. “In this bill, Senator Crapo has done an exceptional job of striking that balance in a way that will help knife owners and consumers, remove unnecessary federal burdens, and allow states to decide what tools are legal within their jurisdiction – as the Constitution guarantees. We’re thrilled to see this legislation introduced, and couldn’t be prouder to have Buck Knives’ senior senator leading the charge.”
“AKTI’s mission is to promote reasonable and responsible knife legislation and enforcement,” said AKTI’s Executive Director Jan Billeb. “We believe that law-abiding citizens should be able to carry and purchase their essential and valuable tools without the fear of arbitrary, inconsistent and ineffective government restrictions. We look forward to working with Senator Crapo and his team to educate lawmakers on the restrictions and burdens created by the Federal Switchblade Act, and how the Freedom of Commerce Act alleviates these problems.”
About AKTI
The American Knife & Tool Institute is the non-profit advocacy organization for the knife industry and all knife owners. Its mission is to ensure that Americans will always be able to make, buy, sell, own, carry and use knives and edged tools. Formed in 1998, AKTI is dedicated to educating, promoting and providing relevant and accurate information about knives and edged tools as important tools in daily American life.  For more information, visit AKTI.org

I need to do more digging to fully understand the nuance of the situation; I am sure there will be a response from other parties involved. Here are my initial scattered and admittedly undeveloped thoughts on the situation:

I don’t understand enough about the legislative sausage making to declare this an overwhelmingly positive development. It might well be, but I can imagine some counter-arguments I will almost certainly hear. My hunch is that a single bill like KOPA would be an easier legislative lift. Potential passage of the Interstate Transport Act might suck the oxygen out of an already dysfunctional Congress, preventing a second bite at the apple. Perhaps Senator Enzi, sponsor of KOPA and FCA sponsor Senator Crapo will be motivated to hash things out themselves to the benefit of all of us. I simply do not know enough at the moment.

In the end, anything that kills the Federal Switchblade Act is a good thing in my opinion. This doesn’t change the fact that there are deficiencies in the Interstate Tansport Act legislation itself that are addressed in KOPA (i.e. “dedicated right of action”) which leaves a situation where the singular passage of KOPA would be a preferable outcome over passage of both the ITA and FCA.

Stay tuned folks, I am absolutely certain that there will be more to come.


  1. Jason says:

    All states need to move on from these out-dated switchblade laws that where created long time ago that are ridiculous. Someone crazy could do a lot more damage with a 10″ chefs knife then a Ultratech. Just my two cents..

  2. Sam L. says:

    Linked at Instapundit at 4PM, Sep 10th.

  3. gbear says:

    It is sad that this is a thing. The bogey man in 1958 wore a leather motorcycle jacket and had a switchblade. Our wanna be protectors had to do something, They aren’t in DC just for the cocktail parties.

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AKTI Introduces “Freedom of Commerce Act”, would repeal Federal Switchblade Act

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