Virginia Governor Youngkin cuts up switchblade ban

AP Photo/Steve Helber

In January I reported on a bill being introduced in Virginia to repeal their switchblade knife ban and the bill was signed into law on March 11, 2022. The bill, now signed into law, lifts an archaic provision in Virginia’s weapons law prohibiting the possession of switchblade knives. The law does not go into effect until July 1st. From a press release issued by Knife Rights, the organization that has helped champion the abolishment of unconstitutional knife laws, we have more information.

Knife Rights’ Virginia Switchblade Ban Repeal Bill, SB 758, that passed with broad bipartisan support, has been signed into law by Governor Glenn Youngkin. We sincerely appreciate Gov. Youngkin signing this bill after nearly 5 years of effort to repeal the ban.

NOTE: Repeal does not become effective until July 1st. Until that date, possession of automatic knives remains illegal in Virginia.

NOTE: The concealed carry knife bans in Virginia, including of switchblade (automatic) knives, will still remain in effect: “If any person carries about his person, hidden from common observation, (i) any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, … or (v) any weapon of like kind as those enumerated in this subsection…”

Knife Rights will never stop until all archaic knife restrictions in Virginia are repealed.

Our sincere thanks and congratulations to sponsor Senator Todd Pillion for his efforts that have resulted in the repeal of Virginia’s longstanding irrational switchblade ban.

With the repeal in Virginia, only five states remain with a complete ban on civilian possession of switchblade (automatic) knives. 

The passage and signing of this bill into law is an important step in the advancement of our Second Amendment right. The measure had almost unanimous support from both legislative bodies in Virginia, with only three members of the house voting against the repeal of the ban; Kory, Mullin, and Murphy. Perhaps those three members need to stop watching West Side Story and come to grips that a rumble won’t break out spontaneously with gang members knifing each other up with switchblades.

It’s beyond commonsense to have the ban cut to shreds and Governor Youngkin was on point to slice his pen across the page carving the bill into a law. Knives are just like any other tool and can be wielded with responsibility or used for malicious purposes. Unlike other tools though, knives, including switchblade knives, are bearable arms protected by the Second Amendment.

The full text of the bill is as follows:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That § 18.2-311 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 18.2-311. Prohibiting the selling or having in possession blackjacks, etc. If any person sells or barters, or exhibits for sale or for barter, or gives or furnishes, or causes to be  sold, bartered, given, or furnished, or has in his possession, or under his control, with the intent of  selling, bartering, giving, or furnishing, any blackjack, brass or metal knucks, any disc of whatever configuration having at least two points or pointed blades which that is designed to be thrown or propelled and which that may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart, switchblade knife, ballistic knife as defined in § 18.2-307.1, or like weapons, such person is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. The having in one’s possession of any such weapon shall be prima facie evidence, except in the case of a conservator of the peace, of his intent to sell, barter, give, or furnish the same.

The work that’s being done across the country by Knife Rights is commendable. The group has acted to repeal so many unconstitutional laws on the topic of these arms. These efforts naturally help the case for the deregulation of many other arms, including firearms.

The knife law in the United States is a patchwork of often quite confusing laws. Prohibitions on the carrying and or possession of knives regardless of construction might be subject to stricter scrutiny in the upcoming post NYSRPA world.