Friday, June 23, 2017

MI: Reform of Antique Knife Law Goes to Governor Snyder

Michigan is on the verge of repealing its antique ban on automatic knives.
Michigan was the first state to ban switchblades.  It was an early test of the power of the post-war media to push emotional, irrational, legislation. The law, which had an exemption for one-armed people, was passed in 1952. 

The impetus for the ban is believed to have come from a November, 1950 article  by Jack Harrison Pollack. The Toy That Kills was published in  the Woman's Home Companion. Call it propaganda, yellow journalism, muckraking; it had little to do with fact, and everything to do with pushing legislation through emotion. Here is one of the passages.
“Designed for violence, deadly as a revolver — that’s the switchblade, the ‘toy’ youngsters all over the country are taking up as a fad. Press the button on this new version of the pocketknife and the blade darts out like a snake’s tongue. Action against this killer should be taken now. It’s only a short step from carrying a switchblade to gang warfare.
For 65 years property was confiscated, lives were disrupted and people were fined and jailed, for the "crime" of carrying a pocketknife. Many believe the law was selectively enforced against minorities.  An analysis of knife arrests for a similar law in New York, found that 86% of the arrests were of black and Hispanic suspects.

After Michigan passed the ban on switchblades, or "automatic" knives, other states followed. New York was the next in 1954. In 1957, the federal government banned the interstate shipment and the importation of switchblades.  In the 1950's legislators and judges still believed that interstate commerce had to actually involve an item actually crossing state lines.

The switchblade ban became a template for future bans on guns. In 1968, the 1968 Gun Control Act forbade people from one state from buying guns in another state. This turned the prior premise of the Interstate Commerce Clause, which had been designed to prevent the states from interfering with interstate commerce, on its head.  Now the federal government used to clause to prevent interstate commerce.

Michigan legislators have overwhelmingly voted to repeal the offending law.  From
Lansing – Michigan’s Republican-controlled House on Tuesday unexpectedly voted to legalize switchblade knives for Michigan residents.

The legislation is now on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder and would scrap a longstanding ban on knives that use springs to open after the Senate OK’d the plan in April saying that the danger of such knives was overblown.

House lawmakers voted for the legislation 106-1, with Rep. Rose Mary Robinson, D-Detroit, the sole dissenter. There was no debate.
The Senate voted to repeal the law 36-1.

The bill, SB-245, will be sent to Governor Rick Snyder.  It seems likely that he will sign it.  If he vetoes it, there is a good possibility of a veto override. The governor has 14 days from the time he receives the bill to sign it or veto it.  There is plenty of time left in the legislative session for a veto override if legislators decide to do so. If the bill becomes law, it will go into effect after 90 days.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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Anonymous said...

I used to know a guy that loved to knife fight. He carried a folding knife that was at least six or seven inches long. He would take his knives apart and work them over so he could give a flick of the wrist and the blade would flip out and lock. He was right handed and his left arm was used to take the blade of any knife he was fighting. His left arm was full of through and through scars. His knife was razor sharp. once he had the other guys blade in his arm he started cutting. he collected a lot of knives. I had a push button knife when I was 10 years old, they were very poorly made and the metal was too soft. Now I have at least 4 knives with 12 inch blades and they take an edge. I learned knife sharpening as a meat cutter for a grocery store meat department. I have an antique, German made, steel from my grand fathers store.

Anonymous said...

The same argument used to get the push buttons out lawed in the first place right after the movie grease cam out. a legal ice pick would do the same job.

Anonymous said...

What really pisses me off is that we have laws that are being ignored for political correctness. it is a crime to ignore laws that exist. the oath of office for every appointed or elected Official requires them to uphold and enforce all laws, Fact it is the law judges can not change law they can not pick and choose between the ones they like and do not like. It is a basic tenant of American law that judges are required to enforce the law as written not the way they think it should be written. trey gowdy is always stating words have meaning. laws are made of words that have specific meaning and judges have no authority to change the meaning of words. I have written emails to people in position that should be addressing these issues, they never answer. especially Trey Gowdy. I exposed a flaw in the government email system so they fixed it. I tried for several years to get off of trey gowdy's email list, nothing worked until I emailed all of congress asking someone to tell him to take me off of his email list. Now you cant email directly any one in congress.