By David Codrea
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Two knife owner protection bills are making their way through Congress, one backed by an industry group and the other backed by an owners’ advocacy group. An analysis of the bills shows that although they share similar purposes, they offer vastly different protections, making it evident that changes will be needed to gain acceptance by both interests.
H.R. 84, the Knife Owners Protection Act (KOPA), introduced in January by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-5), is currently in the House Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committees. With four cosponsors at this writing (all Republicans), the stated purpose of the bill is:
To protect the right of law-abiding citizens to transport knives interstate, notwithstanding a patchwork of local and State prohibitions, and to repeal Federal provisions related to switchblade knives which burden citizens.
On May 10, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced S. 1092, the Interstate Transport Act of 2017, now assigned to the Senate Transportation and Science and Transportation Committees. The five co-sponsors include two Democrats for the bill that is intended:
To protect the right of law-abiding citizens to transport knives interstate, notwithstanding a patchwork of local and State prohibitions.
The House and Senate versions appear to advocate for the same goals, with the exception of the repeal of the Federal Switchblade Act in the House version. But a breakdown of details shows protections being offered are not equal:
The Senate bill is being backed by the American Knife & Tool Institute, “a non-profit organization … representing all segments of the knife industry and all knife users.” The House Bill was authored by Knife Rights, a grassroots membership group that “can count 32 legislative victories in 21 states, plus Congress, and is standing up to the largest city in America in our Federal Civil Rights lawsuit against New York City.”
“The bill will ensure federal protection for lawful knife owners traveling through the current patchwork of state and local knife laws,” AKTI claims. “It is the continuation of an effort AKTI has lead for many years in an effort to better protect lawful knife owners traveling across the country.”
Perhaps. But KOPA was specifically written to address flaws found in the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) that can actually result in increased prosecutions in states like New Jersey and New York, and the Enzi bill appears to have adopted essentially identical language as the flawed FOPA. In essence, a false sense of security could be created for citizens not realizing the transportation provisions don’t apply to knives otherwise deemed illegal in such jurisdictions.
“Knife Rights congratulates Senator Mike Enzi on the introduction of S. 1092, the Interstate Transport Act,” Chairman Doug Ritter responded to the introduction of the bill. “We note that H.R. 84, the Knife Owners' Protection Act, introduced by Representative Andy Biggs at the request of Knife Rights, provides knife owners more robust protections while traveling with knives. It also includes repeal of the Federal Switchblade Act.
“Knife Rights is committed to work with Senator Enzi, all members of congress, industry and stakeholders to pass legislation that will ensure that law-abiding knife owners are not subject to often malicious prosecutions in states that ban certain types of knives and those in which knife laws are ambiguous. Knife Rights is committed to doing what's best for America's knife owners and our friends in the industry.”
There’s one thing that's clear from the recent tangentially-related conflict between grassroots groups and a gun manufacturer lobbyist in Illinois: It’s better for the ultimate unity of the community if legislative differences are resolved and if customers are confident the industry is protective of their interests too.
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.