Canada Border Services Agency Seizing One-Handed Opening Pocket Knives

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has sent shock waves through the knife community after it announced that its interpretation of a ‘prohibited weapon’ had changed to include most everyday folding pocket knives.

The organization points to a November ruling by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) which denied an appeal (AP-2017-012) to reclaim an imported shipment of seized Kershaw Skyline knives. The tribunal determined that the knives were outlawed because they could be ‘wrist-flicked’ after minimum manipulation to partially open the blade.

According to Section 84(1) of Canada’s Criminal Code a pocket knife is a prohibited weapon when it “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.” The scope of Canadian enforcement originally targeted automatic knives and balisongs. But, in 2015 the CBSA began seizing flipper knives after a similar CITT ruling.

In a statement issued to KnifeNews, the CBSA clarified their new authority based on the most recent CITT decision. “This means any folding knife is not permitted for import into Canada where the blade can be extracted and locked into place with centrifugal force when, prior to use of centrifugal force, an item on the blade, such as a stud, disc or flipper; or a hollowing in the blade is used to partially open the blade.”

An attorney with Daley, Byers, a Toronto criminal law firm, tells us that the new interpretation seems to target one-handed opening folders and likely won’t affect Swiss Army knives or slip joint folders equipped with back springs to hold the blade closed.

A Canadian knife dealer, who asked to remain anonymous, tells us the ruling should be a concern to every Canadian. “Even Australia, a country renowned for having some of the harshest anti-knife laws, has recently legalized many of these knives. Somebody has to realize just how ridiculous this is before every Canadian has to carry a fixed blade around,” he says. “I’m contacting my MP (Member of Parliament) and I urge every Canadian to contact their MP. We can’t just talk, we need to do something about it.”

It remains unclear if Police forces across the country would also reinterpret Canada’s Criminal Code in light of the CITT ruling, leaving Canadians to wonder if they are now breaking the law by owning or carrying the pocket knives already in their possession. The maximum penalty in Canada for possession of a prohibited weapon is 10 years in prison.