AKTI Fighting for Your Knife Rights in D.C.
(September 15-17, 2009) – Late in August AKTI began planning another lobby day in D.C. (AKTI and coalition members had been there on June 25 to visit with key U.S. Senators). Our D.C. lobbyist arranged all the scheduling for September 16. But even a week before that date we faced the prospect that the bill would already have been through conference and the issue resolved before we got there. Such are the perils of guessing how fast or slow Congress will move on any given piece of legislation.
Once we got to D.C., we found our visit was timely because the bill was moving slowly. So we were able to have meetings with key House committee and subcommittee staffers.
These included staff for: Chairman Waxman (CA) – Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee Chair Rush (IL) – Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, Subcommittee Chair Levin (MI) – Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, Rep. Camp (MI) and Rep. Brady (TX) – House Ways and Means, Rep. Radanovich (CA) – Committee on Energy and Commerce, Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection subcommittee. We also met with Jeff Ashford, staffer for David Price (NC) – Chair of the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee of Homeland Security.
We also met with both Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) and his legislative director Andy York, two very key people in putting together Senate amendment 1447 and bringing together U.S. Customs and a broad coalition of 20 Senators from both parties to support it.
The following morning, September 17, AKTI representatives Goldie Russell, Jan Billeb and David Kowalski adjusted their schedules to meet with the legislative assistant for Rep. Marion Berry (D-AR). He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rep. Obey of Wisconsin.
The Sporting Knife Industry Coalition
At the risk of having this read like the results of a marathon, we want to identify and acknowledge those who went to Washington in September. Some were there for a second time, having also been there in June. Quite frankly, the marathon analogy is appropriate because unless you’ve been through this process (as AKTI has been five times in the five states where we’ve introduced successful bills), you do not understand how bills get passed. As an aside, bills ultimately get passed by talking directly to lawmakers and their staff members.
The AKTI effort initiated by our Blade Show meeting in late May has been supported by three other key entities. These are the NRA, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and Knife Rights. Names of key individuals in these groups who deserve our special thanks appear in the following list of September D.C. trip participants.
Goldie Russell (A.G. Russell Knives) – AKTI President; Jan Billeb – AKTI Executive Director; John Belniak (SOG Knives); Peggy Bremer (CRKT); Rod Bremer (CRKT); Mike Manrose (Meyerco); Nicole Bivens Collinson, AKTI D.C. representative (Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.); Ned Steiner (ST & R); Nora Bomar Kahlil, Government Affairs Advisor at Ball Janik LLP – representing Oregon manufacturers; Larry E. Smith, President of Legislative Strategies Inc. – representing Benchmade; David D. Kowalski – AKTI Communications Coordinator.
Jeff Freeman – Senior Federal Liaison for NRA; and Jeffrey S. Crane, President of Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
Doug Ritter, Chairman of Knife Rights; Jason Kunkler (KnifeCenter.com); Pete Brownell, President of Brownells; and Drew Derco, Mark Barnes & Associates (Knife Rights D.C. representative).
We should add that AKTI representatives on the June 25 trip to D.C. included: John Belniak (SOG Knives); Rod Bremer (CRKT); Mike Manrose (Meyerco), Les deAsis (Benchmade Knives); Jason Landmark and Kevin Keegan (Gerber Legendary Blades/Fiskars); Morgan Taylor and Brian Boyd (Taylor Brands).
Thank you to AKTI members who generously donated their time and are responsible for all their own expenses on behalf of all knife owners.
- Recognizing its responsibility to communicate clearly to both the law enforcement communities and individual and corporate members, AKTI does not publicly discuss sensitive issues that are in process. Furthermore, we do not attempt to claim credit for successes that we did not inspire or direct; we do not encourage or publish inflammatory political diatribe; nor do we publicly respond to misrepresentations about AKTI. Only AKTI speaks for AKTI.
AKTI stands on its 12-year unmatched record of action on behalf of U.S. knife owners. We have successfully introduced legislation in five states (California, Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina and Texas, as well as shut down a January 2009 proposal in Hawaii in seven days) that have all passed and have made life safer for law-abiding citizens and knife-owning visitors to those states. We conservatively estimate that AKTI’s legislative successes have contributed to the legal safety of more than 36 million knife owners.