There Are No Good Knives; There Are No Bad Knives
Cody, WY (February 15, 2005) – More than 86 percent of AKTI individual members believe that AKTI should take the official position that “there are no good knives; there are no bad knives.”
That was one of the conclusions drawn from answers to the “Knife Definition Questionnaire” included in the Winter 2004 AKTI News & Update and mailed to all members. These results were presented to the AKTI Board during the 2005 S.H.O.T. Show meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Question 1 asked: “Do you agree with AKTI’s proposed official position that … there are no ‘good’ knives; there are no ‘bad’ knives?”
- YES – 86.1 %
- NO – 5.6 %
- No Response – 8.3 %
We also asked respondents: “What categories of knives do you believe need explicit definitions that can be developed by AKTI and presented to lawmakers and the law enforcement community?” (The percentage of “YES” responses follow the category of knife.)
- Ballistic – 61.1 %
- Bowie Knife – 41.7 %
- Dagger – 61.1 %
- Dirk – 61.1 %
- Easy-Opening – 72.2
- Multi-Tool – 47.2 %
- One-Hand Opening – 77.8 %
- Pocketknife – 61.1 %
- Stiletto – 58.3 %
- Switchblade – 75 %
The question of knife definitions is complex and controversial. One member said “if all knives are good, then we don’t need to define any of them.” Another added that “I think most knives are good, until used by bad people.” A third respondent reiterated AKTI’s long-standing position … “let’s prosecute improper knife use.” Another added that our legal system must ensure that “… crimes committed using weapons of any kind guarantee much stiffer sentences.”
Some members worried that promoting more definitions would shine the spotlight on groups of knives that currently have no legal definitions in any state or federal law. “If we define a certain kind of knife, some lawmaker will try to convince his constituents that he is creating a safer world by outlawing these tools rather than prosecuting violent criminal behavior,” one member observed.
Another respondent told us we forgot to include “tactical” knives. But this term is really a broad description of any straight knife or folding knife in a variety of handle materials, blade shapes, blade edges and opening mechanisms. About the only thing anyone could say about the category without fear of contradiction is that it does NOT include certain types of knives. In today’s world, a “tactical” knife is any style that is not a sword or a multi-tool.
One member even questioned whether the industry’s expanding technology and design innovation made it possible, any longer, to effectively determine whether certain designs belonged in one category or another. “About 30 years ago,” this respondent said, “if you wanted to buy tennis shoes, your choice was either ‘high tops’ or ‘low tops’ and you could get them in either black or white. Now virtually every basketball, track and football star has one or more unique model of shoe named after him or her. And the variety of materials used today could not even have been imagined 30 years ago.”
This member went on to say that “the variety of materials and the development of mechanisms used in knives today is even more diverse than what we’ve seen in other areas of modern production, except perhaps for computers. The problem is most of our knife laws were written when Boy Scout knives and hunting knives were the only types of knives commonly available. So virtually every law that tried to define certain classes of knives is now obsolete or just plain wrong,” he stated.
On the other side of the issue are members who believe that if the industry defines knife categories, then we can promote realistic, accurate and workable standards because we are faced with many statutes that already “name” outlawed knife types. Most states already ban blade lengths ranging from the 2-inch standard in Boston to the 4-inch-or-more blades in many states. (AKTI’s “Protocol for Measuring Knife Blade Length”:/resources/akti-protocol-for-measuring-knife-blade-length took effect on January 1, 2005.) As one member stated, “we need to continue educating the judiciary and the legal community.”
The AKTI Board will again address knife definitions at its June 2005 meeting at the Blade Show in Atlanta, Georgia.