There are competing knife bills working their way through Congress at the moment. The Interstate Transport Act (ITA) is sponsored by knife industry trade group American Knife and Tool Incident (AKTI) and the Knife Owner Protection Act (KOPA) which is sponsored by Knife Rights. The latter seeks to legalize the transportation of knives across jurisdictions where they might not be legal but are legal at the ultimate destination. KOPA seeks to do this as well, and includes repeal of the Federal Switchblade Act. AKTI has since helped introduce the Freedom of Commerce Act which would also repeal the Switchblade Act.
AKTI and Knife Rights have issued respective press releases on the news that the ITA has gained passage from the Senate Commerce Committee.
From American Knife and Tool Institute:
THE VOICE OF THE KNIFE COMMUNITY – AKTI.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AKTI Works with Senators Mike Enzi and Ron Wyden to Support Senate Commerce Committee Passage of Interstate Transport Act
Knife Owners Will Have a New Federal Protection While Traveling Under Legislation Advocated For By the American Knife & Tool Institute
Cody, WY, June 27, 2018 – The American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI), a nonprofit trade association representing the entire knife community, announced that the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed S. 1092, the Interstate Transport Act (ITA), a bill to further protect law-abiding knife owners.
Throughout the 2017-2018 legislative session, AKTI has had numerous successes in easing burdensome restrictions on knife owners throughout the nation, including a repeal of the automatic knife prohibition in Colorado and Michigan. In addition, AKTI has continued its work to protect lawful knife owners traveling through the current patchwork of state and local knife laws with the introduction of the Interstate Transport Act.
The organization has worked closely with legislators and staff in the United States Congress to advance its signature federal legislation, which is led by Senators Mike Enzi, R-WY, and Ron Wyden, D-OR, and currently has eight additional bipartisan co-sponsors. These co-sponsors include: Senators Steve Daines, R-MT, Martin Heinrich, D-NM, James Risch, R-ID, Joe Manchin, D-WV, Jeff Merkley, D-OR, Mike Crapo, R-ID, Tom Udall, D-NM, and Tammy Baldwin, D-WI.
Under current United States code, lawful gun owners are allowed to transport firearms that are legal in both a traveler’s state of origin and state of destination, even if they will pass through jurisdictions that would not permit the firearms, provided they are properly stored and in accordance with all federal restrictions. This protection was created in 1986, when Congress passed the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA). Prior to this legislation, gun owners had no way to legally travel with their firearms through states and localities that had more stringent laws. This law empowers firearm owners to travel more freely, while not restricting states’ ability to regulate the firearms that are carried within their borders.
Senator Mike Enzi
However, no such federal protection exists for knife owners wishing to transport knives to and from states in which they are legal, but through jurisdictions with varying requirements. The Interstate Transport Act would create a federal protection for knife owners, allowing legal interstate travel with knives, provided the knives are transported to and from states where the law allows possession of said knives, and they are transported in locked containers.
“In Wyoming, we understand that knives are an essential tool for folks, whether they are for hunting, ranching or for everyday use,” Enzi said. “I am glad the committee passed this legislation, which would allow law-abiding knife owners to finally be able to travel across the country without fear of breaking the law. I am hopeful that the Senate will act quickly to pass this common-sense legislation.”
Senator Ron Wyden
“Our bipartisan bill recognizes that law-abiding knife owners shouldn’t risk going to jail for traveling between two places where it’s legal to have knives,” Wyden said. “I’m glad the Commerce Committee has taken this important step toward respecting state laws and restoring some common sense to our nation’s laws regarding knife ownership.”
The Interstate Transport Act is a continuation of AKTI’s efforts in the US Congress since 2013. Over that time, AKTI has heard repeatedly from knife owners who have questions about the confusing and varying laws in locations they are visiting or through which they are planning to travel. Since AKTI’s goal is to ensure that law-abiding citizens have knowledge and confidence in their ability to carry the tools they use in their daily lives, we got to work.
“Since we were formed in 1998, AKTI has worked to systematically address what we saw as outdated, confusing, and unfair laws both in the states, and at the federal level,” said CJ Buck, AKTI President and CEO of Buck Knives, Inc. “Our goal is common sense knife reform, and in recent years we have had success fighting for changes in multiple states, to the benefit of the consumer. We’re extremely encouraged to see the Senate Commerce Committee pass the Interstate Transport Act, and we are highly optimistic that the Senate will soon pass the legislation and send it to the House for their approval. We are proud to be working with a bipartisan group of legislators who share our commitment to common sense solutions, and we look forward to passing this important reform into law. We thank Senators Enzi and Wyden for their hard work on the Interstate Transport Act, and look forward to working with them to get it across the finish line.”
For more information, visit www.AKTI.org.
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
Knife Rights, sponsor of the KOPA bill which is also working its way through the pipeline issued a statement as well, highlighting a legal technicality known as “right of action” which is lacking in the Interstate Transport Act. This is the same technicality that has rendered the Firearm Owner Protection Act impotent in places like New Jersey and New York City and landed owners in legal jeopardy despite its passage. It is the opinion of several lawyers I have consulted that the ITA does not contain the robust “right of action” as does KOPA. It is for that reason that TTAK’s Editorial Position is to prefer KOPA over the ITA, even though the omitted Switchblade portion is being addressed by standalone legislation.
From Knife Rights:
Problematic Knife Transport Bill Voted Out of Senate Committee
The Senate Commerce Committee today reported S.1092, the Interstate Transport Act of 2018, out of committee. Sponsored by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), S.1092 attempts to protect knife owners traveling interstate with knives. This bill is a weaker and problematic version of Knife Rights’ Knife Owners’ Protection Act (KOPA). S.1092 would theoretically provide safe harbor to someone traveling with knives where it is lawful for the knives to be possessed at both the points of origin and destination, so long as the knives are secured and inaccessible during the intervening travel.
While the sponsor amended the bill to accommodate a number of very serious problematic issues raised by Knife Rights in the original version of the bill, unfortunately S.1092 would still leave knife owners at peril when they need its protections the most. In those states where they are most at risk, such as New York and New Jersey, for example, it lacks critically important provisions to ensure their protection.
S.1092 does not include a right of action which would provide for persons unlawfully detained for transporting their knives properly secured in compliance with the act to seek financial compensation from a jurisdiction that ignores the intent of Congress to protect these travels. Without a strong right of action, there is no deterrent-biased and rogue jurisdictions would have no incentive to follow the law.
Acting with impunity, without fear of any meaningful recourse from their law-abiding victims, these rogue jurisdictions will further persecute citizens who attempt to defend themselves from illegal, and unjust or misguided enforcement actions. A robust right of action holds jurisdictions financially accountable for the victim’s losses if they willfully ignore the law. A strong right of action causes jurisdictions to consider these adverse repercussions before they arrest or prosecute an individual that is protected under the act.
The unfortunate reality is that were this bill to become law, it would actually put many knife owners at greater risk of prosecution, financial jeopardy or ruin and loss of civil rights because they would believe themselves protected, when they were actually not. This is particularly the case in states and cities with very restrictive knife laws where they are currently wary of breaking the law. It would provide knife owners an unjustified false sense of security that could trap the unwary.
S. 1092 also does not include repeal of the Federal Switchblade Act (FSA). The FSA is a failed law dating from 1958 that adversely impacts interstate trade and shipping of automatic knives. These knives are legal to own in 45 states, the majority with no or minimal restrictions, 32 allowing everyday carry. Keeping the FSA on the books does nothing but cost jobs, revenue and lessens consumer choice. Knife Rights has been responsible for repealing 16 state bans and restrictions on switchblade knives in the last 8 1/2 years. It is well past time for the FSA to go away.
Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), the second most senior Republican member of the Commerce Committee, offered Knife Rights’ KOPA, including its strong right-of-action and FSA repeal, as an amendment during the markup. Although he withdrew the amendment, Senator Wicker stated that he intends to introduce KOPA in the Senate as a stand-alone bill. This bill will be a companion to H.R. 84, Knife Rights’ Knife Owners’ Protection Act, which was introduced by Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) in the House.
Doug Ritter, Chairman of Knife Rights, noted: “While I am glad that much needed knife issues are getting attention in the Senate, S.1092 is not legislation that will truly protect knife owners. A bill with a strong right of action and repeal of the Federal Switchblade Act will provide actual and vital protection and relief that knife owners, retailers, and manufacturers need. We have worked with Senator Enzi and others to strengthen the Interstate Transportation Act, but unfortunately, they did not make the changes needed for Knife Rights to support this bill. We are pleased that Senator Wicker will be introducing a Senate companion to the Knife Owners’ Protection Act, and look forward to working with our many industry supporters in helping him advance that legislation.”
Knife Rights’ record of 29 bills repealing knife bans at the state and local levels in 21 states in the past 8 1/2 years is unrivaled. With your support, Knife Rights is rewriting knife law in America™.
Either bill is an improvement, especially if the Freedom of Commerce Act is passed as well. However, it seems to me like this is a golden opportunity with the current makeup of Congress and Administration, to go for the whole enchilada at once – Switchblade Act repeal and a bill which would offer more ironclad protection for travelling knife owners.