Pocket knives now in feds’ gunsights

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.

52 comments Add your comment


June 17th, 2009
10:27 am

Is there a big problem with switchblade-related violence? I sure haven’t heard of any. Maybe Obama could give us a solid reason why he thinks certain knives are inherently evil, than I could get behind this. But there’s no real reason other than “Knives ae bad! What about the children?”

Wat Tyler

June 17th, 2009
10:55 am

Next they’ll be coming for our pitchforks. Oh well, let’s hope they bring cake.


June 17th, 2009
11:02 am

I always carry a small tactical pocket knife with me. It is a tool I use around the office, around the house, in my garden and in the woods while hunting and fishing. Sometimes there is a need to have a knife open with one hand. What’s next, a ban on fixed blade knives? Utility cutters? X-acto knives? Straight edged razors?


June 17th, 2009
11:12 am

Next: no more scissors, butter knives, forks, spoons. We’ll all go back to eating w/ our hands.


June 17th, 2009
11:21 am

You would think Obama would have bigger fish to fry.What a waste of time!

M D Cain

June 17th, 2009
11:25 am

Wake up people. The ultimate goal of people such as Obama is to make everyone subjects instead of citizens.


June 17th, 2009
11:27 am

He is the KING long live the KING! He knows best! He is god!


June 17th, 2009
11:32 am

This is of course, absurd. However, absurd laws are hardly the private domain of any one president or one party. Years ago in California, I attempted to buy a little pocket canister of mace/pepper spray, yet told I had to take and pass a class first, but I could’ve bought a gun without doing so……
And here in the county Mr. Barr & I share as home, students have been subjected to horribly arbitrary “no tolerance” weapon rules, and expelled for little toys, or even PICTURES of guns!


June 17th, 2009
11:33 am

What’s next? Sharp rocks and pointy sticks!


June 17th, 2009
12:27 pm

I always carry a tactical folding knife as well. I’m thinking that I won’t be carrying it across the border next time I go. Who knows how they will interpret the law.
Thanks for posting this information.

Chris Broe

June 17th, 2009
12:46 pm

A knife like that, could keel your brudder. Don’t weild a blade, go find anudder…. dont stick your own kind, dont stick your own kind. A blade that keels, hides in your heel. a switchblade keels, and cannot feel. dont stick your own kind, dont stick your own kind……

Sarah Palin is the only person in America who needs a switchblade. (Moose skinning). Sarah Palin’s daughter proves that stiletto heels should be banned, cause they make underage girls look too hot, obviously. Everything is connected. We need to fully grasp this concept.

If not, we’re finished.


June 17th, 2009
12:59 pm

It’s all about control, folks…..


June 17th, 2009
1:03 pm

Zero Tolerance for all things politicians / DAs / police consider bad for you! Don’t complain, you elected them!!!


June 17th, 2009
1:25 pm

Idiotic government policy. Can’t expect much more from the teleprompter in chief.

Bill H.

June 17th, 2009
2:09 pm

Mr. Barr,
Thank you very much for giving this matter your attention.
Pockets knives are simply very handy tools and even in this digital age, they remain important tools for work, field use, law enforcement officers and military personnel. The popularity of one handed opening pocket knives comes from the simple utility and usefulness of the tool.

The greater United States Knife and Tool industry is very concerned about the non specific language used in the proposed US Customs rule change banning the import of pocket knives that can be opened with one hand. This may well cover more types of pocket knives than US Customs is stating. Again, as Mr. Barr states, these are not switchblade knives and no one in industry is asking for these to be made legal for import into the United States.
Many states rely on US Customs for their own state laws. Industry lawyers are concerned that the customs rule change could result in making these pocket knives also illegal for interstate sale and transport.

The pocket knives produced by today’s industry are better built, stronger and safer to use than ever before. The one handed opening knife is a result of the hard work by many to make good tools available to the American public.

This is about a lot more than a pocket knife, it’s the loss of another freedom.


June 17th, 2009
2:40 pm

Obama = assinine.

Turd Ferguson

June 17th, 2009
2:50 pm

Just use a box cutter.

Wat Tyler

June 17th, 2009
3:20 pm

They say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I say we place a ban on the import of people.

conservative democrat

June 17th, 2009
3:38 pm

How’s an amputee supposed to get his pocket knife open? I guess when they send him to jail he can get the guy Georgia sentenced 100 years for growing pot to open it for him.

Chris Broe

June 17th, 2009
3:52 pm

In the movie, From here to eternity, switchblades got a best supporting prop award. In the movie, West side Story, the switchblade was critical to the Romeo and Juliet parallels which form the plot of the movie. Take the switchblade away from those movies, and you get a watered down episode of the Flying Nun. Hollywood would be finished as an institution.

Look People: Switch blades are America! We need to import more switchblades, with accessories, like a bottle opener, and a little saw, and a nail clipper, and a ice pick, and a screw driver. We need larger switchblades too. Imagine a Bowie Knife that comes spring loaded. Now go with me a little further: Imagine a shark with a stiletto attached to it’s head. That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

So, in conclusion, Obama needs to focus his efforts on healthcare, cause with all these stilettos and switchblades, (and knife wielding sharks), American’s are going to need it.


June 17th, 2009
4:24 pm

Where is the ADA lobby on this one? Seems an easy enough argument to me. Of course, they can easily sidestep that by requiring a permit to carry a knife I suppose with a special license to purchase a one-handed opening knife.


June 17th, 2009
4:55 pm

Well done, Mr. Barr. While nothing in your post is TECHNICALLY a lie, you did manage to slip Obama’s name into this proposal from the CBP no fewer than three times, to give the impression that the President is working personally on an agenda to deprive U.S. citizens of their pocketknives.

Of course, this is untrue. The proposal orginated from the Customs and Border Protection agency, not the Oval Office. But you gotta make your audience happy–and they want to gripe about Obama.


June 17th, 2009
5:06 pm

To Copyleft…..It all comes from the top so quit trying to make this an attack on Obama.


June 17th, 2009
5:33 pm

Since 30 percent of the homicides not committed with firearms this is long overdue. We need to outlaw the selling and possession of “saturday-night-special” knives and “assault” knives and any knife that is sold, for other than police or militart or Obamas Elite Guard must be registered, microetched with a distingishing traceable serial number on every blade (so anyone cut with one will be traceable), and knive magazines must be limited to no more than 10 rounds of blades.


June 17th, 2009
5:40 pm

Look at the absurdities that the Big O has pushed through and what he wants to push through. This is a result of the lack of rational thought by the majority of the voters in the last presidential election. Then the morons in Congress go along because they wish to remain in power through their elected office. Term limits and being certain that one political party is not in control of the Presidency, Senate, and House of Representatives.


June 17th, 2009
5:49 pm

Does anybody remember the days when every young boy carried a Barlow knife (that their dad or granddaddy had given them when they were 6 or 7) to school and it never crossed anybody’s mind to pull it out to cut up a fellow student. If there was a fight between kids it was with fist, because we knew that the teacher, principle, and /or parents would tear up our butts with a paddle or belt or we would go to jail. We are just soooooo much better off now with the girlyman/liberal brand of discipline, with our children’s psyches intact due to better potty-training and no corporal punishment.

Red Foreman

June 17th, 2009
6:37 pm

Presbo da Clown iz gunna saves us all…


June 17th, 2009
7:24 pm

Since kinetic knives are much more dangerous that pot or firecrackers they should be banned immediately. Or tax the heck out of them like cigarettes, which is just a ban for those who lack the backbone to call for a ban.

It’s funny that the extreme right and extreme left both want a nanny state that protects everyone from things they dislike. The only real difference is the list of things they want banned.

Bronco Bob

June 17th, 2009
9:28 pm

I don’t see what all the hub bub is all about.First of all Obama will never disarm America. As for
pocket knives,I believe that this to will never happen,I think that we as free thinking Americans
should quit buying into the madness.The way I see it the pocket knife industry is envious of
the gun industry sales,and what better way to boost sales,than to start talk about the confiscation
of pocket knives,with the amount of guns out here today,the worst thing one would do is pull out A
knife today with the intent on doing harm to someone,you know what they say about bringing A knife to A gun fight.


June 17th, 2009
11:12 pm

The only people this affects are the law abiding citizens anyway – just like gun laws. Do ya think all the hoodlems that use knives for fighting are going to run and turn thiers in or NOT know who to turn to to get them a new one? Paaalleease!
How much longer we have to put up with this nut case? Leave us the heck alone. Protect our borders, help with nat’l disasters, but please, stay out of our homes! Work on food safety or something will ya? Anyone see FOOD, Inc. yet? They got MUCH bigger things to deal with!

T. Butler

June 17th, 2009
11:23 pm

Dear AJC and spellchecker-less followers.

It’s spelled “asinine.”

Meanwhile, I agree with Copyleft. And then I remember that my home state of Georgia was originally a penal colony, the mindset of which has filtered down since before Oglethorpe. Any idea what that kind of isolation and deprivation does to a bunch of fellers who live in the piney woods? (Read your history. If you can.)

You darling rednecks, seeking comfort in fear, racism, xenophobia, and every other kind of fear that you ingested in churches who would rather have scare you than feed you. For shame!

My .02 (to quote Joe Bob Briggs): If you’re doing God’s work, you’re feeding people and not scaring them.

Chris Broe, your wit is probably wasted on the witless.

P.S. I have a pocketknife and carry it w/me. It’s not dangerous to anyone EXCEPT me. I have been known to break a nail when I try to open the blade for my latest eBay purchase.


June 18th, 2009
12:27 am

I am going to be a criminal then. I am not giving up my right to own a gun, I am not giving up my Swiss Army knife or my Buck knife. I knit, is the government going to tell me next that I can’t use my steel needles?


June 18th, 2009
7:52 am

my knife is not a switchblade but looks scary, will the dems want it to.


June 18th, 2009
7:54 am

If Obama watched the news in Atlanta and all the crime we have in this city and how utterly impotent our elected city leaders are, can you here me Queen Shirley…. when it comes to keeping the citizens of Atlanta safe, he’d mandate that we carry weapons for self-defense. Pocket knife my rear. I live close to the city, I don’t venture to the end of my driveway to get my mail or collect my garbage can with less than a 9mm on me.


June 18th, 2009
8:15 am

I’ve owned many pocket knives through the years. None of them opened with a flick of the wrist. If one did, it would be like a switchblade. In fact, I dare say no pocket knives until recently opened with a flick of the wrist. It’s not a problem to have to use two hands. Construction workers have all kinds of tools available with various types of blades ready for use without opening. Surely there is something more important to write about.


June 18th, 2009
9:09 am

I collect switchblades. Now I’m going to be RICH!

[...] In the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. [...]


June 18th, 2009
12:57 pm

Oh, I forgot to provide one correct to Mr. Barr’s opening line:

“Temporarily stymied in its efforts to move a gun control agenda forward because of strong public backlash…”

That should be >i?”because of the evere-predictable NRA campaign of hysteria and blackmail.” Please try to fact-check before posting future entries.


June 18th, 2009
1:45 pm

Stop and think for a minute here, this is just stupid. I own a striaght blade hunting knife, it only takes 1 hand to remove it from its sheath. Is it going to be outlawed as well? When will this stupidity end? Hopefully after the 2010 elections, when the dumbocrats lose their majorities in both houses.


June 18th, 2009
2:38 pm

Time for a revolution, fight for freedom!

How goffy

June 18th, 2009
3:20 pm

Pocket knives. I’m more concerned about those who are against the US Constitution. I’m more concerned about people with aids not warning the public. I’m more concerned about gay pride marchers screwing with little children. I’m more concerned about EPA outlawing carbon dioxide and causing the world to be barren of oxygen because plants can’t perform the photosynthesis function. I’m more concerned about wasting $13,000 per inner city child for education only to have an unfunctional illiterate be a product of the education. I’m more concerned about the government telling americans how to run our lives while they steal from the public caufers and award contracts to their cronie friends. I’m more concerned about illegal aliens being allowed to take american jobs. I’m more concerned about homosexuals espousing there lifestyle from congress. I’m more concerned about communists that have infiltrated american government. I’m more concerned about people who say that china will lead the world out of the economic downturn. I’m more concerned about people who take pictures of military funerals without permission and only for some belief that political opportunism will occur. I’m more concerned about people who fund welfare recipients better than military men and women. I’m concerned about people concerned about pocket knives and how stupid they are. You know stupidity costs society more dollars than anything else along with making america look stupid.


June 18th, 2009
3:37 pm

//I’m more concerned about gay pride marchers screwing with little children. I’m more concerned about homosexuals espousing there lifestyle from congress.//

You are absolutely right that the gubmint has much bigger fish to fry than pocketknives. But you need not worry about the above. We don’t mess with little children (the vast majority of pedophiles are straight; please look it up), and our lifestyles affect people like you only in your fearful gut, so stop blaming gays for all your problems.

You might also want to consult a dictionary. I hate to be one of those grammar police, but really, if you want to make a cogent point, spelling and grammar DO COUNT. I’d have given your rant much more credit if you paid more attention to that stuff. Just saying.

Chris Broe

June 18th, 2009
6:40 pm

America ain’t stupid. Far from it. We’re probably the most culturally integrated, socio-infiltrated and theo-conglomerated society in history. Why, we know TOO much. Bush tried to dumb us down. He gave it the old college try, and he damn near succeeded too. But in the end, the damn internet keeps people sharp as tacks. The blogging. The tweeking. the instant news. Why, I’ll bet most people here could build a battery in their kitchen using only a potato, a quart of vinegar and a slinky. That’s not just smart, that’s a good idear.

Well, I’ve got to go Tivo some scrambled porn. But I’ll be back. Count on it. I got’s more figurin’ to do.

Peter Courtenay Stephens

June 18th, 2009
9:22 pm

We are probably going to give them our nooses. We can even show them how they are used.
Death to Tyrants and corrupt politicians


June 20th, 2009
9:40 am

Better stockpile your favorite everyday carrys now!

Obama is putting another industry out of biz- the tens of thousands of knife industry related jobs.

The American Knife & Tool Institute states 80% of knife purchases are knives affected by this re-definition of a switchblade.

R. Lee Keel

June 20th, 2009
7:11 pm

I wish this bastion of arrogance would come down to earth. Maybe he should talk pretty to the Muslims and have them put their swords away. The guy in my opinion is a total fool looking to go down in history as some kind of savior of the american people. He’ll go down, at the rate he is going,
in history alright like a train wreck.

Hannibal the Cannibal

July 8th, 2009
3:25 am

Ahem.. talking about banning knives is a whole lot different from doing it

Terrry Harper

October 5th, 2009
8:45 pm

I agree..obama must have bigger fish to fry…what a waste of America’s time!…It is surely just a matter of loosing another right!..
Many States have all switch blades legal if you have a hunting license!

S. Powers

October 25th, 2009
6:35 pm

I dont understand . why…it seems like all the things, like pocket knives for instance, are being threatened. why? My family came here with the first ships a very long time ago. I love my country but we are going to save ourselves to death. Look out! Marbles are next. They are going to save us to death. Freedoms are next folks.

Gary Ried

January 31st, 2010
1:32 pm

I can’t believe the comments here. Explain to me why all you people need switch blade knives.