On 20 February, 2017, Governor McAuliffe (D) Virginia vetoed HB 1432. The bill would have reformed Virginia law to remove the blanket prohibition on carrying, possessing, trading or selling switchblade knives.
The law was a holdover from the 1950's when bans on the ownership of switchblade knives swept the nation, based on groundless hysteria about their supposed use by street gangs. The play “West Side Story” was said to have a role in the passage of these laws. A federal statute banning the interstate sale of switchblade knives was passed. From the excellent article by Bernard Levine, published in 1990, which details how the ban came into existence:
Congressman Delaney's mind was made up, so it probably would have been pointless to confuse him with the facts. Switchblades came into common use in the United States, not around 1950 as he stated, but around 1850. After the turn of the century, thanks to the inventive genius of George Schrade (and the “protection” of the Tariff Acts of 1891 and 1897), American made switchblades of all sizes became popular and commonplace.
Wikipedia has a good bit of the history on their article about switchblades. From Wikipedia:
In 1954, Democratic Rep. James J. Delaney of New York authored the first bill submitted to the U.S. Congress banning the manufacture and sale of switchblades, beginning a wave of legal restrictions worldwide and a consequent decline in their popularity. In 1955, U.S. newspapers promoted the image of a young delinquent with a stiletto switchblade or flick knife with lurid stories of urban youth gang warfare, often featuring lower class youth and/or racial minorities.
All of the laws were pushed based on propaganda and unfounded assertions by a congressman from New York City. It sounds eerily familiar to gun control pushes made during the last eight years. Knife Rights has had considerable success in removing these antiquated and irrational knife bans. Reforms have been passed in Wisconsin, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Alaska, Missouri, Maine, and New Hampshire.
Gun Rights has found that when legislators are educated about the history and effect of these knife bans, they can be persuaded to remove them. In Virginia this year, the process happened fairly quickly.
On January 14, HB 1432 as introduced by Delegates Scott Lingamfelter and Lee Ware. On January 24th, the bill was passed out of the Courts of Justice Committee. The vote was 13 for, 7 against. On January 30, the bill passed the house 57-Y to 39-N. On February 2nd, HB 1432 passed the Senate, 22-Y to 16-N. On February 20th, Governor McAuliffe (D) Virginia, vetoed House Bill 1432.
With house votes of 57 – 39, and Senate votes of 22-16, there were not enough votes for a veto override.
Switchblade knives are just another tool that has been demonized by those who worship the power of the state. It never made any sense to ban them. Knife law reform in Virginia awaits a Governor who is willing to move forward.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.