The Canada Border Services Agency (the equivalent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection) will ban knives capable of opening with one hand, per a recent announcement made on Jan. 10. The prohibition is in effect now.
The Exact Language of the Ban
Specifically, the restriction covers knives meeting these conditions, as specified here:
- a knife has a blade that opens by centrifugal force, when the blade is released from the handle into the fully ejected and locked position with a simple and brisk outwardly flick of the wrist; and
- it includes knives that require some preliminary or simultaneous minimal manipulation of either a flipper or other non-edged parts of the blade.
Applies to Most Folding Knives
This applies to flippers, assisted openers, automatics or any blade that doesn't require two hands to open. Much sway is given to CBSA officers' judgement. A cautious traveler to Canada may want to leave all folding knives at home.
This development comes after the resolution of an appeal in the T. LaPlante v. President of the Canada Border Services Agency case. That case came about after the CBSA seized five imported Kershaw Skyline Model 1760 knives (pictured above) at the border in August 2016.
This isn't the first time the country banned a wide category of knives. The decision adds to Canada's growing list of prohibited weapons, available here. That includes:
- Bladed finger ring
- Push daggers
- Devices shorter than 30 cm containing a concealed blade; including canes, daggers and multitools
- Belt buckle knives
- Morning stars
- Spiked wristbands
Big Changes for Canadian Collectors, International Tourists
Note that this doesn't prohibit the exportation of these items, only the importation. This doesn't spell the end of the Canadian knifemaking industry.
It does, however, mean the end of bringing a large category of knives into Canada. It's likely this will especially impact Canada's hunting and fishing tourism industries. Canadian knife collectors purchasing internationally will also be hit hard.
We actually were planning a 3-weeks adventure trip to Canada next summer. Now seriously reconsidering. 🙁
— Blades4Sale (@Blades4Sale) January 16, 2018
One Way Around It: An Exemption for FBL License Holders
There is one way around the prohibition. From the CBSA:
Importation by a business is permitted if a Firearms Business Licence has been presented with import – prohibited weapon, listed as a business activity on the licence.
Despite this workaround, obtaining an FBL may be challenging or out of reach for smaller knifemakers and companies. Individuals may also be unaware of or unable to meet this requirement, and will have their knives confiscated at the border.
U.S. Does Not Have a Similar Prohibition
Coincidentally, this is similar to what happened in the United States 10 years ago. U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized imported assisted openers at the border, claiming they violated the 1958 Federal Switchblade Act. The pushback led to an amendment exempting assisted openers and all manual folders capable of opening with one hand, signed into law in 2009 by President Barack Obama.
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