Monday, August 21, 2017

Illinois Reform of Switchblade Ban Signed into Law

On 14 August, 2017, Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 607, the reform of the Illinois ban on switchblade knives, into law. From
(2) The provision of paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of this Section prohibiting the sale, manufacture, purchase, possession, or carrying of any knife, commonly referred to as a switchblade knife, which has a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife, does not apply to a person who possesses a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card previously issued in his or her name by the Department of State Police or to a person or an entity engaged in the business of selling or manufacturing switchblade knives.
There are about 2.1 million FOID card holders in Illinois. This is a significant reform, because it eliminates the statewide ban on these knives for 2.1 million people.  Any resident of Illinois with a clean record can obtain an FOID card for $10 and the trouble of filling out an application.

Illinois residents can thank the busy and productive people at Knife Rights for this much needed reform of Illinois law. Knife Rights Director of Legislative Affairs, Todd Rathner, was able to negotiate this reform through the labyrinthine Illinois political system. At one point, a compromise was set to allow people with concealed carry permits to carry switchblades. Todd Rathner was able to enlarge that group to all people who have FOID cards, a 10 fold increase.

It is not a complete solution, but it is an incremental step in the right direction. Unfortunately, only Illinois residents may apply for and receive an FOID. There is precedent in Illinois weapons law to treat people who can legally carry a firearm in their home state as if they had an FOID.  At present, it only applies to firearms.

There is a state preemption law for firearms. There is no knife preemption law in Illinois at present. Local laws, particularly a Chicago ordinance, can be used to prosecute people for the carry of many knives. The Chicago ordinance bans the carry of *any* knife with a blade over 2.5 inches in length. From Chicago ordinance 8-24-020:

No person shall carry concealed on or about his person a pistol, revolver, derringer or other firearm or dagger, dirk, stiletto, bowie knife, commando knife, any blade of which is released by a spring mechanism, including known knives as "switch-blades" or any other type or kind of knife, any blade of which is more than two and one-half inches in length, ordinary razor or other dangerous weapon except that no person 18 years of age or under shall carry concealed on or about his person, any knife, the blade of which is two inches in length or longer.
The firearms sections are partly overridden by Illinois State preemption law, but not the knife sections. Knives are arms protected by the Second Amendment, and should be at least as protected as handguns.

From their history, Knife Rights will likely be back in Illinois to lobby for a statewide knife preemption law. 

I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the Internets.   The links above take you to the law, so you can decide for yourself what it says.   It is likely that case law and the courts will provide further clarification.

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