POINTS OF INTEREST
SWITCHBLADE BAN REPEAL GAINS MORE GROUND
This job and process is never simple,” says Knife Rights Director of Legislative Affairs, Todd Rathner. “After 20 years of lobbying, I’ve learned that I should never be surprised by an argument and to never count someone out because of party affiliation or their initial objection to an issue.”
As Rathner and Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter will attest, there’s been plenty of activity on the Knife Rights front, even as the year is winding down.
Knife Rights’ bill to mostly repeal Illinois’ switchblade ban, SB 607, was signed on August 11, 2017. It was effective immediately upon signing. The new law allows possession of automatic knives by those who have a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card, which allows the individual to purchase firearms and ammunition. This is not a possession with CCW law, as some have suggested. The new law also allows for manufacture and sale of automatic knives by those not holding a FOID card.
Ritter explained that this bill, which was finally passed and signed into law, started out last year as a full switchblade ban repeal. Then the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee insisted it be amended, so a switchblade would only be legal with a Firearm Concealed Carry License (FCCL).
Rathner went to Illinois and was able to negotiate a compromise that allowed for possession and carry by holders of a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card.
To put this into perspective, in Illinois there are approximately 2.1 million FOID card holders versus only 223,637 FCCL holders (Illinois was the last state to legalize concealed carry).
“I never disclose precise strategy or private conversations,” says Rathner. “What I will say is that I put issues in terms that my audience can relate to.”
While there, he said he spent a few days on the ground in Illinois meeting with the bill sponsors and the committee chairman, as well as folks from leadership.
“We discussed how these knives are tools useful to everyday workers and tradespeople, as well as for sportsmen and women and that it’s about the person, not the tool,” he says.
It must be noted that without state knife law preemption, Chicago and other cities can still ban switchblades.
“It is always gratifying to convince folks of the value of my argument,” says Rathner. “As a long-time knife nut, it’s especially satisfying to enable folks to possess and carry their knife of choice.”
Once the Colorado bill was enacted, knife manufacturer Spyderco in Golden, Colorado, graciously hosted an enactment ceremony for the repeal of the state’s switchblade ban.
At Spyderco’s enactment ceremony, Ritter said, “You often hear that one person can make a difference, although lots of people are skeptical about that. I am here to tell you that it’s true, and in this case that person is Air Force Master Sergeant (Retired) John Bloodgood. He was the spark that got this going. He persisted over a number of years in pressing his Senator, Owen Hill, to repeal Colorado’s Switchblade ban. We’d not be here today but for his perseverance and passion to get this done. We honor and congratulate John for his efforts.”
Bloodgood and sponsors Sen. Owen Hill and Rep. Steve Lebsock all received awards, as well as knives donated by Spyderco. KI
Above: John Bloodgood (left), pictured with Doug Ritter of Knife Rights, receiving an award for his persistence in pushing Sen. Owen Hill to repeal the Colorado switchblade ban.