A bill designed to expand switchblade/automatic manufacture and carry, and to exclude one-hand-opening knives—an example of the latter, the Vulcan from SOG Specialty Knives shown above—from the Washington state definition of switchblade passed the state senate March 2.
According to the American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI), HB 2347 is headed to the governor's desk and should be effective around June 1. AKTI’s Jan Billeb stated that Mike Vellekamp of Fox Knives USA did a great job spearheading the effort to expand switchblade/automatic manufacture and carry in Washington state.
Meanwhile, clarifying the definition of switchblade/automatic knife (or spring-blade knife as it is known in Washington) is important to protect the rights of the individual knife owner. It eliminates potential misinterpretation about the legality of one-handed and assisted-opening knives that can result in inconsistent and wrongful conviction of individuals for owning or carrying a knife that is a valuable and potentially life-saving tool.
AKTI advisory member Spencer Frazer, founder of SOG Specialty Knives & Tools, testified at the state house judiciary committee hearing the same day in support of HB 2347. “The definition of switchblade needs to be clarified, and this bill does that,” he commented regarding changes to Sec. 1 RCW 9.41 that includes “a knife that contains a spring, detent, or other mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade and that requires physical exertion applied to the blade by hand, wrist or arm to overcome the bias toward closure to assist in opening the knife is not a spring blade knife.” This is the same “bias toward closure” language that AKTI introduced and has been successfully passed in other states and incorporated in to the 2009 amendment to the Federal Switchblade Act.
Senator Kastama reported to the Senate Judiciary Committee that SB 6179 corrects technicalities and would put Washington state in alignment with the Federal Switchblade Act. Before that committee on Jan. 25, Vellekamp stated, “We want to make it so Washington state is friendly for manufacturing all types of cutlery products.” Passing the new Sec 2 to Chapter 9.41 will make it legal to manufacture switchblade/automatic knives in the state of Washington, subject to certain restrictions.
The proposed changes will also extend the legal possession and carry of switchblades/automatics to include active military, firefighters and rescue responders, in addition to law enforcement and state patrol officers. “We need to get rid of the stigma that these are weapons and we need to start calling them tools because that’s what they are,” Vellekamp testified. “The push for this bill is so that we can ensure the local law enforcement branches, our military and our firefighters get to use these valuable tools because when they get trapped, they need to get out. They need a tool at the ready that’s going to be there without needing another hand to open it.”
For more info click on www.akti.org
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