U.S. Customs attempts to hinder knife industry with import regulations, knife classifications

U.S. Customs is proposing to bypass Congress and expand the…

U.S. Customs is proposing to bypass Congress and expand the switchblade definition to include all knives that open with one hand. These include multi-tools, traditional pocket knives, one-hand openers, and assisted-openers.

More than 35.6 million law-abiding Americans now own one-hand-opening knives in one of the above four categories.

The majority of Americans who carry and use one-hand-openers every day need them for their jobs. They use them to save lives. They use them for gardening and scores of recreational activities. If U.S. Customs succeeds, they will effectively ban all folding knives from interstate commerce. Individuals who cross state lines into states where switchblades are banned will be subject to arrest and prosecution.

The definition of a switchblade or automatic knife has been clear and explicit in federal law since 1958. There have been several court cases in California, Texas, Illinois and Michigan on the issue of assisted-opening knives. Every judge in every case has ruled they are not switchblades because they do not possess an activating button on the handle.

The only exception the American Knife and Tool Industry (AKTI) is aware of is one Texas appellate case in 2007 and the Texas legislature has agreed with AKTI that the decision was made in error. The court incorrectly focused on a thumb stud on the blade (which is typical of many one-hand-opening pocket knives and is not banned by federal law, in Texas or in any other state). A thumb stud is not part of either the Texas or federal statutory definitions of a switchblade knife which clearly state that a switchblade must have a release button on the handle.

This case forced AKTI to introduce a bill in the 2009 Texas legislature to clarify the state’s switchblade statute, reaffirm the 50-year-old federal definition, and clearly distinguish one-hand openers and assisted-openers from the entirely different class termed switchblades or automatics. The Texas House and Senate unanimously agreed and sent our bill H4456 to the governor’s desk for signature on May 29, 2009.

To register your opposition to the U.S. Customs’plan (19 CFR Part 177) to re-classify assisted openers and all folding knives, address your comments by June 21, 2009, to:

19 CFR Part 177
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Office of International Trade, Regulations and Rulings
Attention: Intellectual Property and Restricted Merchandise Branch
Mint Annex, 799 Ninth St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20229

Industry Facts:
U.S. Sporting Knife Industry – $5.9 Billion Economic Impact on U.S. Economy

• 3,881 direct U.S. Employees at 61 Companies
• 19,405 Ancillary Support Jobs in other industries
• $986.87 Million Gross Revenues (2007) at manufacturer/importer level
• $5.921 Billion Total Economic Impact on U.S. Economy
Source: 2007 Report – The AKTI State of the Sporting Knife Industry

Anglers and Hunters Spend Nearly $65 Billion Annually

• 30 Million people fished in 2006 (16 and older)
• Anglers spent $42 Billion
• 12.5 Million people hunted in 2006
• Hunters spent $22.9 Billion
Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish & Wildlife Service, and U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

35.6 Million Households Own Pocket Knives; 24.8 Million Own Hunting Knives

• 35,595,000 Million U.S. Households own an outdoor or pocket knife
• Of all outdoor and pocket knife owners – 68.8 % are men, 31.2 % are women
• Of total U.S. population – 22.97 % of pocket knife owners are men, 9.72 % are women
• 24,775,000 Million U.S. Households own a hunting knife
• Hunting knife owners are 60.46 % men, 39.54 % women
• Of all hunting knife owners – 13.84 % are men, 8.77 % are women
Source: 2008 Doublebase Mediamark Research & Intelligence

Assisted-opening and One-hand-opening Knives are 80 % of All Knives Sold

• Courts in California, Texas, Illinois and Michigan have expressly ruled that assisted-openers are not switchblades
• 90 % of all hunters and fishermen use knives, often the same knives they carry every day
• 80 % of new knife sales in past five years were one-hand openers and assisted-openers
• Multi-tools with one or more knife blades are considered one-hand-openers for purposes of this study. They are generally banned as carry-ons by airlines and school districts with zero-tolerance policies.
Source: 2007 Report – The AKTI State of the Sporting Knife Industry (unpublished data)

30-40 Million Public Safety, Non-Issue Military, Construction, Recreational Users

• 900,000 active law enforcement officers employed (2006) – 90 % own at least three knives
• 2.1 Million EMTs, firefighters, security guards (2006) – 90 % own knives or multi-tools
• 2.2 Million active and reserve military servicemen/women – 90 % own at least two knives
• 7.7 Million construction employees (2008) – 60 % own at least two knives, 35 % own multi-tools
• 17.7 Million campers (2005) – 70 % own knives, 20 % own multi-tools
• 16.9 Million boaters/sailors (2007) – 40 % own knives, 30 % own multi-tools
• 4 Million Boy Scouts and volunteer/leaders (2007) – 75 % own knives
• 140 Million hikers, bikers, landscapers, gardeners (2008) – 20 % own knives
Source: Estimate of total calculated by AKTI as range due to overlapping hobbies and job functions. 2008 Proprietary Report prepared for AKTI member company from data supplied by New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, Congressional Budget Office, nmma.org, usdoj.gov, undercurrent.org, outdoorindustryfoundation.org, National Garden Association and other sources deemed reliable but unnamed per confidentiality agreements with AKTI .

Load Comments
  • jesse

    the only way the gov. will get my multi-tool is to pry it from my cold dead hand. it seems the liberal weenii city dwellers wont be satisfied until all we can carry is a butter knife. they don’t seem to realize that rural folks still have enough common sense to use and carry a knife. (in the South for instance a man isn’t properly dressed until his pocket knife is in his pocket). i use my leatherman multiple times per day and would feel lost without it. DON’t they have better things to do????!!!