Tennessee Sheriffs Can’t Tell An Automatic Knife From A Shotgun

Image: Tennessee Sheriff's Association

The Tennessee state senate approved statewide knife-law preemption yesterday, but not before a last-minute smear campaign by the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association gutted other major provisions of the bill. It now goes to Governor Haslam for his signature, but it’s not half the bill it should have been.

The original version of HB581 would have preempted local knife laws, legalized automatic knives and allowed the carry of blades over 4 inches. but hysterical testimony from Sheriff’s Association executive director Terry Ashe (above) nearly killed the whole deal.

Sheriff Ashe testified (with a straight face, I may add) that switchblades should remain illegal because they’re too intimidating. He claimed that police officers would mistake the sound of an automatic knife for the sound of a shotgun slide being racked.  “It even sounds like a shotgun rack, if you want to get right down to it.”

Maybe it does, if you’ve spent too much time at the qualification range with no hearing protection. If Sheriff Ashe can’t hear the difference between a knife and a shotgun, it’s probably time to change his hearing-aid batteries.

After Ashe’s testimony, the bill’s sponsors agreed to castrate the bill by deleting the switchblade and over-4″ carry legalization sections. The preemption (and nothing but preemption) bill now awaits the governor’s signature.

Read more at kniferights.org


  1. I_Like_Pie says:

    So what does the bill actually do now!?!

    Man what a jackwagon.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      It preempts local knife laws. The blade length limits and automatic knife bans are still in place, thanks to Sheriff Ashe.

  2. Fr@ck!
    I can’t believe that:

    a)you caught this before me Chris
    b)I didn’t see this coming at all, all indications were that it was sailing along with the Republican supermajority
    c)How can they be such idiots? (Ok , I believe this one)

    For what it is worth, Will Woods and I chose a 4.5″ blade length for my Project Kephart knife. Specifically, because I wanted to celebrate the return of sanity to TN knife laws. It doesn’t affect me much since there already was an exemption for engaging in hunting, fishing, and other legal outdoor pursuits, and this is when I planned on carrying it most anyway.

    But this still sucks regardless. I was looking forward to reviewing a bunch of automatic knives.

    At least we still get preemption, but Sheriff Ashe is an idiot.

    I plan on contacting my State Reps, and voicing my displeasure, but like Sysiphus, we are going to have to roll that damn boulder back up to the top of the hill again.

  3. Travis M. says:

    My problem with this line of reasoning is: wouldn’t you take down that person regardless if it was an automatic knife or a shotgun? If someone is going to assault you with a deadly weapon, if you’re close enough to hear it being readied, it doesn’t matter if its ranged or not.
    He could make a case against the folding comb that opens like a switchblade, since it’s not a weapon, but he’s not.

    1. It is hard to use logic to refute a conclusion that wasn’t derived from logic in the first place.

  4. Adam G. says:

    Ignorance will win all the time. Knives are more misunderstood than firearms are by the ignorant. Time for major knife education.

  5. Ralph says:

    the bill’s sponsors agreed to castrate the bill

    The bill was okay. They should have castrated the Terry.

  6. Azimuth says:

    Listen to this Terry ‘switchblade’ Ashe, he’s a living fossil from the 1950’s.
    If you’re Jet from West Side Story, then you can use the term switchblade. But I very much doubt that the gangs of today are dropping $200+ for automatic knives. They’re of little use in a drive-by shooting gang environment, and I don’t think holding your knife sideways, gangsta style, will impress or frighten anyone. They may however, fall down in fits of laughter, thereby allowing you to escape unharmed. What a sight. The elected representatives of 2013, being cowed by, of all things, the lingering image of knife used by street gangs in Broadway musicals from the 1950’s.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      You hit close to the mark here: the federal Switchblade Knife Act was passed in 1958, not long after Rebel Without A Cause, Twelve Angry Men, The Delinquents, and West Side Story came out. But that story will have a future blog post all to itself.

  7. Ghost930 says:

    Used a PAC timer today. Difference between getting my Strider SMF open for business, and my Rob Dalton Auto AFK, 1/25th of a second. Seems silly that one is mostly legal, and one is not for the difference of a quarter second.

  8. Peter says:

    They need to ban Zippo lighters, otherwise this poor man would mistake the sound for a shotgun slide being racked and shoot someone for smoking.

  9. Pat says:

    Duh. Worried about switchblades and automatics. The folders of today are better than both in every way because they open stupid fast and easy, and are stronger and better shaped. Its not giving the people blade length options that is the most irritating.

  10. arnold tedder says:

    The sound of an automatic knife sounds nothing like a pump shotgun. what an idoit!!!

  11. Tiffany says:

    I am doing an article on Terry Ashe. May I use the photo with credits to you for it?

    1. I am pretty sure that the photo is from Wikipedia or other public domain (publicity photo from TN Sheriff Assn I think)

      Drop us a line when you are done with your article. I would like to read it.

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Tennessee Sheriffs Can’t Tell An Automatic Knife From A Shotgun

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