Importing Knives into Canada
A recent Canadian Customs notice published January 5, 2018, has raised several questions about importing folding knives into Canada from the U.S., even though they are legal to sell and possess.
The American Knife & Tool Institute and Canadian stakeholders have been working towards a solution since mid-January. We are actively working behind the scenes on both sides of the border for a resolution as quickly as possible.
Please review AKTI’s white paper on the issue below. The most effective way to show your support at this time is to complete this form, so we can add your voice to our cause and demonstrate to government officials how wide and deep the impact is and much support we have.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Ruling AP-2017-012 Prohibits Export of Legal Folding Knives
On November 16, 2017, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) issued a decision in response to Case AP-2017-012, an appeal of a decision by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) to seize five Kershaw Skyline Model 1760 folding knives that were being exported to Canada by a T. LaPlante. In this decision, the CITT ruled that the CBSA was justified in seizing the knives, drastically expanding the CBSA’s authority to intercept shipments of knives that are legal under Canadian law. AKTI strongly disagrees with the CITT’s decision, and is working with Canadian stakeholders to seek additional clarity and resolution to this situation.
Existing Canadian Law
Canadian law, through Subsection 84(1) of the Criminal Code, bans “prohibited weapons,” which the Criminal Code defines as:
(a) a knife that has a blade that opens automatically by gravity or centrifugal force or by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the handle of the knife, or
(b) any weapon, other than a firearm, that is prescribed to be a prohibited weapon; (arme prohibée)
The CBSA’s jurisdiction for intercepting illegal shipments of knives into Canada rests on the above clause, supplemented by the following guidance, which includes the following definitions of the various classes of prohibited knives:
- Automatic knife – An automatic knife is one that houses a blade that will open automatically by applying hand pressure to a button, spring, lever, or other device, in or attached to the handle of the knife, including knives that have a button, spring, lever, or other device, located in the spine of the handle and attached to the inner part of the blade.
- Centrifugal knife – A centrifugal knife is one that opens automatically through the use of centrifugal force. Centrifugal force may be defined as a force, arising from the body’s inertia, which appears to act on a body moving in a circular path and is directed away from the centre around which the body is moving. That is, centrifugal force is established when the blade of the knife may be opened with the flick of the wrist.
- Gravity knife – A gravity knife is a knife which may be opened automatically by force of gravity. The knife may be additionally controlled by a lever or button, but typically, applying pressure to such a device and pointing the knife downward will result in the knife’s blade releasing and locking into place.
Traditionally, CBSA has determined that centrifugal force knives were those knives that could be reasonably opened with a “flick of the wrist.” This is the standard that most manufacturers and law enforcement authorities have applied in the past, both in the United States and in Canada. Under this standard, many U.S. manufacturers have exported their knives to Canada without mass seizures for years.
The CITT, in its November decision, evaluated whether it needed to determine a new standard or test for “determining whether a knife opens automatically by centrifugal force.” The CBSA, for example, proposed a test that determined whether the knife fully opens “with an arm and wrist motion, which may involve some skill and manipulation, applying the force of a normal person.” In this case, AP-2017-012, the appellant, LaPlante, opposed broadening the test, arguing that a “flick of the wrist” test has long sufficed.
Impact of CITT’s Decision
Ultimately, the CITT, in its decision, elected not to establish a new test, but instead applies the current test in what is unquestionably a more rigorous manner, despite asserting that the current test “has sufficed for over twenty years.” In its decision, CITT defines the centrifugal force test as determining whether “a simple and brisk outwardly flick of the wrist releases the blade from the handle into the fully ejected and locked position.” However, in testing the goods in question, the CITT admits that to open the knife, a “flick of the wrist is accompanied with minimal manipulation by the thumb of either the flipper or other non-edged parts of the blade, such as the nail nick, to overcome the initial resistance.” Although the CITT claims that it “has ruled in prior cases that a knife may still open automatically by centrifugal force even if it requires some preliminary or simultaneous manipulation of a flipper or part of the blade,” this assertion conflicts with the experience of stakeholders on both sides of the border. As such, CITT has essentially created a new test that has little basis in Canadian law.
The concern with CITT’s decision is that it potentially bans the import of a large class of knives that have been exported by U.S. manufacturers into Canada without incident for many years. It is AKTI’s position that the CITT decision was made in error and misapplies existing Canadian law, going far beyond decades of previous precedent.
Impact on U.S. Exports to Canada
U.S. knife companies export nearly $40 million in products to Canada annually, which accounts for nearly 5 percent of the industry’s gross annual revenue. The sudden and seemingly baseless decision by CITT will cost tens of millions of dollars annually in U.S. export business, and hundreds of jobs in the knife industry. Worse, it will deprive Canadian consumers of access to servicing, returns, and new products from south of the border, and create confusion about the legality of many knives that have been sold to and are utilized daily by every day Canadians.
The American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) is a non-profit organization (501(c)6) representing all segments of the knife industry and all knife users. Formed in true grassroots fashion by concerned industry leaders after considerable discussion with individual knifemakers, knife magazine publishers, and a broad section of the knife community, AKTI has been the reasonable and responsible voice of the knife community since 1998. AKTI’s mission is to ensure that Americans will always be able to make, buy, sell, own, carry and use knives and edged tools. To learn more, please visit www.akti.org.
AKTI’s Efforts on the Issue
AKTI leadership has been working closely with key Canadian stakeholders to identify and secure a solution since mid-January. We are actively working behind the scenes on both sides of the border for a resolution as quickly as possible. We welcome input and assistance from the knife communities in both the U.S. and Canada.
How the Knife Community Can Help
Show your support and help us gather the information necessary to show government officials the magnitude of the implications of this ruling by completing the form in this link – https://goo.gl/forms/zWAyGzRaT4TjxQy22
We’ll keep you informed and can assure you that your information will be held in the strictest of confidence.
What Individual Canadians Can Do
A petition, sponsored by Alberta Conservative Member of Parliament Matt Jeneroux, calls on the government to repeal the Canadian International Trade Tribunal’s (CITT) ruling on AP-2017-012. The petition will be tabled in the House of Commons later in the year. Once tabled, the government will have 45-days to issue a response.You can sign the petition here.
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