Move Over, NRA. Meet the Knife Lobby.
Doug Ritter was carrying two pocketknives and a Leatherman on his belt as he entered a suburban barbecue restaurant near his home in Gilbert, Arizona. “If we were in New York City right now, I could be arrested and sentenced to a year in prison for carrying these knives,” he told me as we stood in line at the counter.
Sitting down to carve into a big platter of pork and brisket, Ritter, the founder and chairman of Knife Rights Inc., laid out his arguments for restoring our right to carry switchblades, double-edged daggers, combat knives, bowie knives, stilettos, and cutlasses on any street in America. “Knives are essential tools used by millions of Americans every day, at work, at home, at play,” he said. “And on rare occasions, they’re also used as an arm in self-defense, or to defend one’s family. When the Second Amendment talks about the right to bear arms, it doesn’t specify firearms in particular.”
Still, knives remain regulated by a complicated, contradictory patchwork of state and local laws. That’s how it used to be in Arizona: In Phoenix, you could carry a concealed pocketknife, but not a dagger or bowie knife. In neighboring Tempe, knives were banned only in bars and liquor stores. Down in Tucson, you could carry any kind of knife, openly or concealed, just about anywhere except libraries. After a lobbying campaign led by Knife Rights, the state Legislature overturned all these local restrictions in 2010, and Arizonans are now free to stroll down the sidewalk with anything from keychain pocketknives to samurai swords.
My preferred model:
Available only as a t-shirt, so far….