Knife Rights and AKTI Competing Federal Bills on Collision Course

In early January, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs introduced legislation authored by Knife Rights called the Knife Owners’ Protection Act of 2017 (KOPA), (H.R. 84), a follow-on to their earlier KOPA bills first introduced in 2013. The legislation would protect knife owners traveling with their knives through states where the knives are illegal and would repeal the infamous Federal Switchblade Act of 1958, eliminating restrictions on interstate trade in automatic knives.

Rather than support the Knife Rights’ bill, earlier this month, the American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) announced it would be introducing a bill of its own. The industry group offered a different solution to the travel problem in the form of the Interstate Transport Act (ITA), (S.1092), a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Mike Enzi and Ron Wyden. The bill would not repeal the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958, a law that has affected the sale of automatic knives across state lines in one way or another ever since.

“I’ve examined both pieces of legislation very carefully and I’m concerned about the approach the AKTI is taking and knife owners should be too,” attorney Evan F. Nappen tells us. Nappen, an expert in knife and gun laws and author of Knife Laws of the U.S., Loopholes, Pitfalls and Secrets, suggests that the AKTI bill would give knife owners the false impression that they were protected when in many instances they wouldn’t be. “In states where anti-weapon and anti-knife attitude problems are the worst, it would leave them vulnerable to arrest and prosecution with little to no recourse,” Nappen says.

Nappen tells us that the Interstate Transport Act (ITA), (S.1092) suffers many of the same drawbacks that the 1987 Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA) does. “It would put knife owners at the same risk that traveling gun owners have faced for decades.”

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Nappen, who has also written gun law books, says that in many respects the knife rights movement has been more successful than the gun rights movement, and in large part it’s because of the work of Doug Ritter and Knife Rights. But he points out the knife rights movement can still learn something from the gun rights movement.

“The NRA [National Rifle Association] and NSSF [National Shooting Sports Foundation] were also once at each other’s throats,” Nappen says. “Knife Rights and the AKTI haven’t been able to get in sync the way the NRA and the NSSF have been able to. It’s very important for knife owners and the industry that they figure out a way to present a unified front on Capitol Hill.”

Nappen concludes, “I have no idea why the AKTI would promote a bill that would do so little to help knife owners. Knife Rights’ Knife Owners’ Protection Act is vastly superior and it also gets rid of the Federal Switchblade Act. The AKTI should do the right thing and support that legislation instead of trying to pass a terrible bill.”