When Boston City Councilor Dan Conley proposed on October 1, 2001, to ban the carrying of knives with blades in excess of 2 1/2 inches, he only provided exceptions for hunters, fishermen or those who needed to use their knives on the job. And he added the stipulation such knives could not be transported in vehicles unless going to or coming back from a fishing or hunting trip, or going back and forth from work.
In a November 29 letter to Councilor Conley, the American Knife & Tool Institute pointed out that … ” The proposed Boston ordinance 1145 [16-45] is currently too broad to be effectively used against any specific group of identified criminals. What it does is make de-facto criminals of virtually every responsible Boston citizen.”
“Whether that person is having a snack while watching TV in their home, buttering their bread at breakfast, pruning their roses in the backyard, scraping a sparkplug gap in the garage, camping, rock climbing, hiking, biking, jogging, kayaking, canoeing, or attending a knife collector show to buy or sell, your ordinance would be making them criminals subject to fine. If they are carrying a carving knife to grandma’s house to carve the Christmas ham, they would be criminals.”
Furthermore, Boston-area retailers, notably Stoddard’s and Chesapeake Knife & Tool were also concerned about their customers transporting knives they had just purchased, as well as liability issues.
Councilor Conley had already enlisted cosponsorship of 11 of the 13 Boston City Council members. He would subsequently call a public hearing on the proposed ordinance for November 29.
AKTI Board of Regent member Walter Gardiner, president of Imperial Schrade Corp., was one of the AKTI members who traveled to Boston to speak at the public hearing. Here is his report….
“The above-referenced meeting was held at 10:30 a.m. at Boston City Hall – Iannella Chamber. In attendance were the following people:
# Councilman Dan Conley, Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and author of proposed #1145- Ordinance prohibiting the carrying of knives or similar weapons.
# Mr. David Marks, president and owner of Stoddard’s Inc., Boston’s fifth-oldest business selling fine cutlery and fishing tackle.
# Mr. Anthony S. Fiotto Esq., attorney representing Stoddard’s.
# Mr. Mel Herman, owner of Chesapeake Knife & Tool Co. (an AKTI Premier Member), an 18-store chain with one outlet located within the Boston City limits and another in a Massachusetts regional mall.
# Mr. Jerry Rinder, Vice President, General Manager of Swiss Army Brands, Inc. (an AKTI Advisory Member).
# Mr. Walter A. Gardiner, President of Imperial Schrade Corp. representing both ISC and AKTI.
“The hearing, which was being videotaped, began right on time with Councilman Conley greeting everyone with a handshake, smile and a thank you for attending. Conley then informed us that the first presenter would be the Boston Police followed by Stoddard’s, ISC/AKTI, Chesapeake, Swiss Army and anyone else who wanted to speak. He then informed us that he had received a letter from Stoddard’s attorney and that he was favorably inclined to the suggestions contained in the letter.
“Lt. Kevin Foley, Commander of the Youth Violence Strike Force, a 28-year veteran of the Police Department, represented the Boston Police. Lt. Foley spoke about crime being down in Boston but murders and assaults with knives up. In calendar year 2000 there were 4 homicides committed with knives and this year 13. Assaults with knives were up over 32 percent, numbering 1000 in 2001.
Lt. Foley supported #1145 because they needed an ordinance to take knives away from youth gangs.
Mr. Anthony S. Fiotto Esq., counsel representing Stoddard’s was next. He did a terrific job presenting his argument and going over the letter submitted to Councilman Conley. Fiotto then asked to present a modified version of the proposed Ordinance, blacklined, encompassing the suggestions in his letter. Conley not only agreed but was downright enthusiastic about seeing it. Conley commented that ‘this is how good government works.’ Fiotto’s blacklined rewrite was very well received (in fact, it was adopted
verbatim as the language of the new ordinance).
ISC/AKTI was next. We spent a good deal of time explaining who and what AKTI is. We stressed AKTI’s experience helping communities write sensible legislation that deals with youth violence, recapping our successful effort in California in 2000 and 2001 to save one-hand opening knives.
Mr. Mel Herman read a letter about why he carries a knife and how important that freedom is to him. Conley’s reaction was very positive.
Mr. Jerry Rinder gave background on Swiss Army, including the fact that they are the official knives of both the Boy and Girl Scouts. He also pointed out that Boston was one of America’s gateway cities for European tourism and that a great many visitors carry his product everyday and would have no idea they are violating the law. This proposed ordinance would not be a very nice way to welcome them to the ‘Freedom Trail.’
Nobody else spoke. The Councilman informed us he was very pleased with the input at the hearing. There would be a re-write of the ordinance and he would send it to us.”
The rewritten ordinance:
CITY OF BOSTON
Be it ordained by the City Council of Boston, as follows:
That CBC, Ordinances, Chapter 16 be amended by inserting the following new language:
16-45 PROHIBITING THE CARRYING OF KNIVES OR SIMILAR WEAPONS
16-45.1 Carrying of Weapons Prohibited. No person, except as provided by law, shall carry on his person, or carry under his control in a vehicle, any knife having any type of blade in excess of two and one-half (2 1/2″) inches, (except when actually engaged in hunting or fishing or [delete … in going directly to and/or returning directly from such activities, or any employment which requires the use of any type of knife), … end delete] any employment, trade or lawful recreational or culinary activity which customarily involves the carrying or use of any type of knife, or (b) in going directly to and/or returning directly from such activities, or (c) if the knife is being transported directly to or from a place of purchase, sharpening, or repair, and if packaged in such a manner as not to allow easy access to the knife while it is being transported), ice picks, dirks or similar weapons that are likely to penetrate through police officer’s ballistic vests, or other object or tool so redesigned, fashioned, prepared or treated that the same may be used to inflict bodily harm or injury to another.
16-45.2 Distribution Exception. This section shall not apply to persons who, through entities or establishments engaged in a recognized retail or wholesale business, are involved in the sale, purchase or repair of knives for trade, sport, hobby or recreation, including without limitation persons engaged in the transportation to or form such entities or establishments.
16-45.3 Applicability. Nothing in this section shall be construed to enhance or diminish any duties of persons described in section 16-45.2, and this section shall not be introduced or cited in any proceeding as evidence of negligence, recklessness, or similar state of mind of such persons.
16-45.4 Penalty. Violators of any provision of this ordinance shall be subject to a fine of not more than three hundred ($300.00) dollars for each offense.
16-45.5 Severability. The provisions of this section shall be severable and if any section, part, or portion hereof shall be held invalid for any purpose by any court of competent jurisdiction, the decision of such court shall not affect or impair any remaining section, part or portion thereof.
16-45.6 Effective Date. This section shall take effect immediately upon its passage. [Ed. Note: Passed 12/12/01]