Knife Preemption Laws Gaining Traction

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Even though we’ve seen a stunning blow delivered by the anti-freedom caucus out of Colorado on Saturday, with the signing of a bill that removes firearm preemption, all is not lost in the country. The right to keep and bear arms is not just limited to firearms, but extends to all arms as outlined in the Heller decision, as the Supreme Court made clear when they remanded a case to a lower court with instructions:

The Court has held that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,”

Some very important legislation has been advancing in a number of states like Michigan and Ohio. On June 17, 2021 news about bills in both of these states were reported by Knife Rights, an organization that aims to protect the rights of the people when it comes to bladed instruments.

From one release, we have news that the Michigan House has passed a piece of legislation, the Michigan Knife Rights Act, HB 4066. It was noted that the bill passed by 69-41, with bipartisan support. From the text of the bill:

(1) A political subdivision in this state shall not enact any ordinance, rule, or tax relating to the transportation, possession, carrying, sale, transfer, purchase, gift, devise, licensing, registration, or use of a knife or knife making components that is more restrictive than state law.

(2) A political subdivision in this state shall not enact any rule or ordinance relating to the manufacture of a knife that is more restrictive than any rule or ordinance relating to the manufacture of any other commercial goods.

(3) Any rule or ordinance adopted by a political subdivision in this state that conflicts with this section, enacted before or after the effective date of this act, is void.

The bill still has a journey, as it needs to pass in the Michigan Senate, then work its way to the Governor’s desk. And yes, I can’t really imagine Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signing the bill.

Prospects look better for a very similar preemption bill in Ohio, which just had its first committee meeting. It’s the first of three planned hearings for the Ohio Knife Law Preemption bill, also known as HB 243. The text of the Ohio bill is very similar to the Michigan bill and reads in part:

(B) No political subdivision shall enact an ordinance, resolution, rule, or tax relating to the transportation, possession, carrying, sale, transfer, purchase, gift, devise, licensing, registration, or use of a knife or knife-making components in this state.

(C) No political subdivision shall enact an ordinance, resolution, rule, or tax relating to the manufacture of a knife that is more restrictive than any ordinance, resolution, rule, or tax relating to the manufacture of any other commercial goods.

(D) An ordinance, resolution, or rule relating to the transportation, possession, carrying, sale, transfer, purchase, gift, devise, licensing, registration, or use of a knife or knife-making component is hereby repealed and is null and void, whether the ordinance, resolution, or rule was enacted before or after the effective date of this section.

According to Knife Right’s website they have supported legislation in 23 states with 33 bills repealing knife bans. The importance of knife preemption laws is outlined in one of their statements:

Knife Law Preemption is a Knife Rights criminal justice reform effort that repeals and prevents local ordinances more restrictive than state law which only serve to confuse or entrap law-abiding citizens traveling within or through the state. Preemption ensures citizens can expect consistent enforcement of state knife laws everywhere within a state.

Knife Rights passed the nation’s first Knife Law Preemption bill in Arizona in 2010 and has since passed preemption bills in Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

I reached out to Doug Ritter, the chairman of Knife Rights and this is what he had to say:

Having repealed knife bans in state statutes, the next step is to ensure that citizens don’t have to worry they will be arrested by crossing a city, town or county line because they can each have different ordinances more restrictive than state law. Knife law preemption ensures consistency in knife law throughout the state to provide fairness to all knife owners.

I’ll be watching the progress of these bills as they advance. It’s important to remember that our right to keep and bear arms is not just limited to firearms, but all bearable arms. The repeal and reversal of laws such as the famed “wrist flick test” of New York City, which landed many responsible and law abiding citizens in jail, needs to continue. The further advancement of American civil liberties in the way of less restrictions on bladed weapons requires embracement.