Doug Ritter and his Arizona-based advocacy group Knife Rights has used tactics borrowed from the National Rifle Association to rack up legislative victories. Twenty-one states have repealed or weakened their knife laws since 2010, many with bipartisan support, including Colorado, Michigan and Illinois.
Doug Ritter and his Arizona-based advocacy group Knife Rights has used tactics borrowed from the National Rifle Association to rack up legislative victories across the nation. Many changes have escaped notice amid the nation’s focus on guns, the Washington Post reports. Ritter, 65, says knives, like guns, should be considered arms protected by the Second Amendment. He doesn’t support any restriction on knives, not on switchblades or push daggers or even the ballistic knives that shoot like spears from a handle. Twenty-one states have repealed or weakened their knife laws since 2010, many with bipartisan support, including Colorado, Michigan and Illinois. Ohio could be next. Texas passed its bill last year despite a high-profile stabbing death before lawmakers voted. Knife Rights, with little financial backing, has been working behind the scenes to help make it happen. “A lot of people said it would be impossible to repeal a switchblade law in any state. Insane. Tilting at windmills,” Ritter said. “Turns out they were wrong.”
The success of Knife Rights comes as calls for weapons bans have intensified after mass shootings. Guns are by far the leading cause of homicides. Knives are No. 2, making up 11 percent of killings in 2016 and a growing number of violent crimes. Knives have escaped comparable scrutiny. The FBI records about 1,600 knife slayings a year, a number dwarfed by the 7,100 handgun killings. There are mass stabbings, too, but they get less attention. Little is known about knife violence in the United States. No national statistics track the kind of knife used in crimes. Knife Rights is going after its biggest legislative target: overturning the 1958 Federal Switchblade Act, which bans the interstate shipment or importation of knives that open at the push of a button. It’s a long shot, but Ritter met this month with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.