Switchblade prohibition in Keystone State unlocked. Ban reversed in PA!

(New York Police via AP)

The ban on any and all bearable arms is presumptively unconstitutional, just not all our lawmakers, executives, and judges know that yet. Pennsylvania has been gracing the pages of Bearing Arms quite a bit as of late, with coverage on multiple cases involving the ban of shooting ranges on private property. Some good news, for a change, on November 3, 2022 the prohibitions on switchblade knives in the Commonwealth have been repealed. While the repeal does not come into force until January 2nd of 2023, this is still cause for celebration. Knife Rights, a pro Second Amendment organization that focuses on bladed bearable arms, announced this wonderful news.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf today signed House Bill 1929, repealing Pennsylvania’s ban on automatic knives!

The repeal is effective on January 2, 2023. Until then possession of automatic knives (except as a curio) remains illegal in Pennsylvania. We still have work to do in Pennsylvania; without knife law preemption, cities and towns can still prohibit automatic (and other) knives, and many do. Download our LegalBlade App 2.0 to find your local knife laws. Also, concealed carry of an automatic knife “…with the intent therewith unlawfully and maliciously to do injury to any other person…” remains illegal in Pennsylvania.

Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter said, “I would like to thank all who emailed their legislators to support Knife Rights’ efforts on HB 1929. We worked diligently with our friends in the House and Senate to get HB 1929 bipartisan support resulting in votes of 202-1 in the House and 50-0 in the Senate. I am especially appreciative of Governor Wolf signing this bipartisan bill to advance freedom and criminal justice reform in Pennsylvania.”

It’s great to see restrictions on our civil liberties get lifted willingly, and overwhelmingly, from the legislature, rather than having to crush the laws under the weight of a gavel. Unfortunately the courts can only render so much aid, especially when there are activist judges on benches across the Union. At least with amicable changes in the law, there’s an admission that what was former statute did not make sense, or was understood to be unconstitutional.

In a memorandum from one of the primary sponsors, Representative Martin T. Causer, he outlined his legislative intention back in April of 2021.

Currently, Section 908 of the Crimes Code prohibits individuals from repairing, selling, dealing, using or possessing an “offensive weapon.” Offensive weapon is defined to include a wide range of inherently dangerous weapons such as bombs, grenades, and machine guns. However, it also includes knives which feature one-hand push-button operation, also known as automatic knives. These knives are commonly used by outdoor enthusiasts like hunters, boaters, hikers and tradespeople like contractors, landscapers and mechanics.

Public misconception of automatic knives as used predominately by criminals in the 1950s led many states such as Pennsylvania to enact legislation to restrict even merely possessing them. Recently, twenty-three states have repealed or revised laws regarding the sale and possession of automatic knives paving the way for their use in constructive daily work and recreational activities. As a result, Pennsylvania is among just seven states that still criminalize the mere possession of an automatic knife.

The text of the bill specifically removed several items from the “offensive weapons” list including any; “dagger, knife, razor or cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism”. The legislation, as noted by Knife Rights, was looked after closely as it went through the legislative process.

Knife Rights Director of Legislative Affairs Todd Rathner worked closely with our team on the ground in Pennsylvania to assure this bill’s passage and to stop a potentially destructive, last-minute amendment which could have doomed this important legislation. Our team in Pennsylvania worked successfully with Governor Wolf’s office to educate him on why he should sign SB1929.

Knife Rights would like to thank HB 1929 sponsor Representative Martin Causer (R-HD67) who said, “It was a team effort getting HB 1929 to Governor Wolf’s desk for his signature. I want to thank Knife Rights and their mobilization of their members to support HB 1929. It’s that support that helped secure passage of a good piece of legislation.”

Knife Rights would also like to thank Senator Shariff Street (D-SD3) who sponsored our similar bill in the Senate, for assisting in this bipartisan effort to get HB 1929 through the Senate. Sen. Shariff said, “I was honored to work with Knife Rights on House Bill 1929 to secure bipartisan passage of this important criminal justice reform bill.”

We are proud of the collaborative process by which this issue was discussed, supported and eventually passed and signed into law.

A hearty congratulations to Knife Rights and the people of Pennsylvania. I’m glad to hear that since the retirement of the Jets and the Sharks (HT to Evan Nappen), the Commonwealth can now repatriate the citizens with their right to have these items. Remember Keystoners, the repeal does not go into effect until January 2nd, 2023, so don’t get cut by the law in the meantime.