CSM Asks: “Should it really be illegal to carry a knife in the city?”

While not by any stretch hoplophiles, the folks at the Christian Science Monitor have demonstrated the ability to handle the topic of gun-rights/control in a reasonably fair manner in the past.  They published an extensive piece this week on the march of knife rights, using the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray in police custody following his arrest for a “concealed deadly weapon”. It was a pocket-clipped, spring assisted knife; no different than many of us carry on a daily basis.

For those unfamiliar with the case, the above CNN video is a good quick primer. In a nutshell: citizen (Gray) runs from police for unknown reason when they approach; citizen is arrested for carrying above-mentioned knife; citizen taken/dragged into back of police van, out of sight of the public; half an hour later police call for ambulance, Gray lapses into a coma from a severed spine and dies several days later. 6 police are on paid vacation while the case is investigated, and the FBI has opened its own investigation. The police brutality angle has the media circus spooling up full-bore, and we hope that a transparent and full investigation takes place, but the knife angle that underlies the arrest is what interests me here.

From CSM: “Freddie Gray Death: Should it really be illegal to carry a knife in the city?”:

The uproar over Gray’s mysterious death and the circumstances of his arrest comes amid a seismic shift in knife rights, as growing numbers of states are lifting knife bans. The issue also resonates as the country debates the essential fairness of the US justice system, where critics say obscure laws like knife bans have at times been used selectively by police and prosecutors to clean up poor minority neighborhoods under zero-tolerance and “broken windows” style policing.

TTAK’s own David Anderson has been closely following hoplophobic happenings in NYC, and how one high profile case involving a “gravity knife” was recently tossed.

The CSM article continues:

The immediate question for investigators is whether that knife qualifies as a “switchblade” under Baltimore city statutes, given that Gray’s specimen was not a fully automatic knife. Another is whether, if officers spotted the knife without searching Gray, it could really be considered concealed. Outside of Baltimore, almost any knife can be worn in the state as long as it can be seen by others.

But given court rulings and crime statistics that show that such knives are primarily used as tools, not weapons, a larger question emerging for legislators in states like Maryland is whether bans on certain kinds of concealed knives can too easily become convenient excuses for police officers to achieve arrests in minority neighborhoods, thus dovetailing into national concerns about police stereotyping and conduct.

“Too often we see an officer who may or may not understand the law arrest somebody for having an illegal knife that isn’t illegal,” says Doug Ritter, founder of the Arizona-based Knife Rights group. “We too often see that kind of either blatant ignorance of the law or willful ignorance of the law, in an effort to abuse citizens’ rights to carry this tool.”.

The article goes into considerable detail on the history of knife bans and their disparate impact on lower class communities. 60,000 NYC knife-owners alone have run afoul of out of control prohibitions, despite the fact that courts are repeatedly finding such laws violate Second Amendment protections as well as common sense:

“In 2007, a federal court in New York questioned the decision by police to ascertain that certain knife-carriers are criminals. The court in US v. Irizarry found that “the widespread and lawful presence of an item in society undercuts the reasonableness of an officer’s belief that it represents contraband.”

I recommend you read the whole thing.


  1. Jon M. says:

    Really good reading. Just reaffirms the need for AKTI and Knife Rights and my support of them, they’ve done some fantastic work the past few years.

    It’s also so refreshing to see a mainstream-ish publication take such a measured stance on this subject too. I saw this article on a news aggregator and I have to admit, I inwardly cringed thinking it was going to be negative.

  2. cmeat says:

    so if i’m a christian scientist and my kid sustains a deep gash from a knife, can i take the child to triage? that’s probably a dumb question.
    blade length restrictions seem as silly as automatic bans; one handed openers are deployed just as quickly. but a 4″ blade is more useful than a 3″…

  3. More so than blade length restrictions, I think getting rid of the silly knife laws regarding the archaic/ confusing terminology would be even better(like in NYC). The idea that someone is guilty of a crime by carrying a simple tool(even a “tactical” one) is nutty IMO.

  4. Dyspeptic says:

    If you want to have a fun time blowing the mind of a hoplophobe just try to get them to justify the ban on automatic knives. It simply can’t be done in a factual and rational manner.

    If they are hard core citizen disarmament freaks you will leave them red faced and sputtering with confused indignation. It completely messes with their heads and underscores the ignorant and superstitious nature of their primitive belief system.

    P.S. Is anyone else getting tired of a “justice” system that let’s the police investigate themselves when incidents of police brutality or gross negligence occur. It should be apparent to all by now that the first duty of LEO’s everywhere is protecting the sacred brotherhood of the Blue Crew at all costs. Can you say “conflict of interest”. I knew that you could!

  5. stuartb says:

    I struggle with the arbitrary nature of the laws that vary state to state and county to county. If there is a rigorous enough reason why a restriction makes it to becoming a law, why do the various laws in different districts contradict each other? Blade length, concealed, assisted, if these are real reasons for control they must be universal, except that they clearly are not …..

  6. Roger says:

    The sad part is, Baltimore is the “good knife city” in MD. Just about everywhere else it’s bad. Freddie was targeted because of his past associations, which shows how these laws get abused arbitrarily. I’ve had no problems carrying my Venomtech around Baltimore City but this guy gets murdered for much less.

    We need preemption and new police. Especially new police in Baltimore City(which is so corrupt there are convicted Felons who get rehired habitually). Of all the cops I know, which is a lot, the city cops are always the ones transferring or leaving law enforcement all together.

  7. AW1Ed says:

    And now Baltimore is on the cusp of becoming another Ferguson.

    1. jans says:

      Has become.

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CSM Asks: “Should it really be illegal to carry a knife in the city?”

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