A little over a year ago, it would have been illegal for me to own the Gerber Propel automatic knife I have been testing. It was illegal for me to carry my Kim Breed Model 15 or other 4″+ blade in a setting that wasn’t directly related to a legal sporting activity. Without knife-law preemption which was passed the year prior, it would still be possible for Knoxville, Chattanooga, or another municipality to pass laws denying me this newly restored right. Variations on this scenario have unfolded in more than a dozen states and counting, all because of the tireless efforts by the team at KnifeRights.org.
While their legislative effort to fix New York’s unjust “gravity knife” law ended in a stalemate thanks to the recalcitrance of NY State Senator Mike Nozzolio and other upstate Republicans, KnifeRights is fighting the battle on a legal front as well. They have sued New York City and Manhattan District Attorney over the unconstitutionally vague language in the NY statute. While oral arguments have already been made in the case, KnifeRights has filed a supplementary motion based on a recent SCOTUS ruling that bolsters their case. You can read more here, but the money shot is this:
“Scalia described the statute(in Johnson v. United States) as a “failed enterprise” that invited “arbitrary enforcement.” He declared that individuals are unconstitutionally deprived of due process when they are convicted under “a criminal law so vague that it fails to give ordinary people fair notice of the conduct it punishes.”
We noted that SCOTUS also held that to survive a vagueness challenge the law must be clear in all its applications, not just some. Justice Scalia wrote, “our holdings squarely contradict the theory that a vague provision is constitutional merely because there is some conduct that clearly falls within the provision’s grasp.” So, even if the state gravity knife law is not vague in some instances, this decision goes directly to the City’s and DA’s “wrist flick” test because no one can know if any Common Folding Knife is legal since the test is inherently subjective and thereby is unconstitutionally vague in at least this particular instance.”
All of these legal and legislative lobbying efforts come at considerable cost. Each year, KnifeRights.org holds one massive fundraiser, the “Ultimate Steel Spectacular“. They have assembled over $131,000 in prizes including one-of-a-kind knives and guns, and even their mid-level prizes are drool inducing. The event ends in 3 days, and all it takes for a chance to win is a $20 donation which gets you 1 entry in the drawing. A $60 donation gets you an annual membership to KnifeRights along with 4 drawing entries, and your number of chances and additional rewards increase with your increased donation.
I can’t begin to describe the entirety of the prize pool. Check out the Ultimate Steel Spectacular homepage to see all of the prizes.