This legislation will repeal the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958, and allow consumers to purchase any automatic knife legal in their state.
AKTI’s Freedom of Commerce Act, S. 1588, 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.
To advance the legislation, AKTI is 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 an Automatic Knife?
An automatic knife (also known as a switchblade, auto, auto-open, switch knife) is a knife with a blade that is exposed in an automatic way and moved from the closed position to the open position exclusively by the release of a compressed spring.
Automatic knives are used in the professional trade and in outdoor activities where the use of a one-handed knife that opens automatically is often critical to effectively and safely accomplish the task.
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)
Will the Freedom of Commerce Act remove restrictions on ballistic knives?
No, this legislation will not repeal Section 1245 regarding prohibitions on ballistic knives (an amendment referred to as the “Ballistic Knife Prohibition Act of 1986”).
A ballistic knife is “a device by which a blade becomes separated from the handle and is propelled or becomes a missile, utilizing energy stored by some mechanism within the device. A ballistic knife does not include a cross bow, spear gun, or archery bow.” AKTI Approved Knife Definitions
AKTI’s position is that knives are tools and that knife users should be able to choose the tool that best fits their needs. There is no tool use for a ballistic knife. We believe in common sense knife laws and regulations that are both responsible and reasonable, and therefore do not support the repeal of the prohibitions on ballistic knives in Section 1245.
Will the Freedom of Commerce Act allow imported automatic knives?
Yes, as the legislation is written it will repeal Section 1241 which provides a definition of interstate commerce as: (a) The term “interstate commerce” means commerce between any State, Territory, possession of the United States, or the District of Columbia, and any place outside thereof. (Emphasis added)
The American Knife & Tool Institute represents the interests of the entire knife industry and community, including those U.S. businesses that may import (or export) part or all of their products, employ American workers, and serve American retailers and consumers. Our legislation, the Freedom of Commerce Act, is about allowing the consumer to purchase the tool of their choice.