Temporarily stymied in its efforts to move a gun control agenda forward because of strong public backlash, the administration of President Barack Obama is shifting its regulatory focus to pocket knives. No kidding. In a little noted proposed regulatory decision issued in May by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (”CPB”), the administration is seeking to ban the import of any pocket knife that partially opens with a flick of the wrist.
The government is able to reach into the pockets of America’s millions of pocket knife users to limit the type of knife they can own, thanks to a novel and expansive interpretation of the 1958 “Switchblade Knife Act.” This half-century old law prohibited the importation into the U.S.of, or the interstate commerce in, automatic switchblade and stiletto knives. As recently as last August, the CPB interpreted the law with a common sense view, in approving requests by knife companies to import and market new products. Lawful, modern-day pocket knives do not have prohibited, spring-released blades, but many are able to be opened by one hand with a flick of the wrist; and for this reason are very popular, especially with hunters, campers, and handymen. Now, the new administration is moving to revoke “permission” it gave earlier to importers of these popular knives; deciding they are dangerous “switchblades” after all. This is assinine.
If the Obama Administration has its way, such pocket knives will no longer be lawfully imported into the country, and could not be sold or transported in interstate commerce; thus effectively outlawing their sale or shipment.
The Customs agency is playing hardball in this process. It just last week denied a request by the knife industry for additional time to respond to the initial revocation proposal issued in late May; such requests for additional time to comment on such rulings are usually allowed. The government also is allowing only written comments, as opposed to e-mail comments which are normally permitted.
The Obama Administration may be going slow with regard to gun control, but its knife-control effort is on a very fast track.