Utah leads way in 'right to bear knives' movement

Friday , May 08, 2015 - 4:41 PM

By Mekenna Malan
Standard-Examiner staff

The Texas Legislature is considering a Knife Law Preemption Bill in an attempt to eradicate the state’s inconsistent local knife laws. Oklahoma this week approved a similar bill, following the example of Utah, Arizona, Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire and Tennessee.

Utah was a trendsetter for the movement as the second state to enact a knife control preemption in 2011, supporting a “sharper future” for knife owners by allowing citizens to own and open- or concealed-carry any type of knife.

Knife Rights, a knife advocacy group and the creator of a model preemption bill, views preventing limits on the ownership and carrying of knives as “the second front of the defense of the Second Amendment.”

Since his sponsorship of the Utah bill four years ago, Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, said he believes the preemption has performed the way he hoped.

“It has been what we wanted,” Christensen said. “I’m very pleased with the way it has played out.”

John Harvey, deputy director with the Ogden Police Department, said he has not seen a noticeable difference in the way the bill has affected communities and law enforcement since Utah alleviated knife bans four years ago. 

Despite the increase of states siding with the knife rights movement, Christensen believes some states might decide to keep knife bans intact.

“Different states look at the rights independently and they have a right to do so,” he said. “I am much in favor of keeping it independent and not making it a federal issue.”

The Knife Law Preemption Bill adopted by Utah retains restrictions for certain persons concerning knife ownership, including citizens who have been convicted of a violent felony or are adjudged mentally ill. For these individuals, the ban on owning and carrying knives remains.

Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, hopes to see the Utah knife law expanded to offer freedom for individuals now banned from knife possession.

“After so many years, when someone’s lived a good life, there ought to be some restoration of constitutional rights,” Oda said. “They have a right to live and defend themselves as well.”

The right to own and carry knives has been likened to the right to own and carry guns, with Knife Rights activists claiming knife restriction laws threaten civil rights. Oda views both knives and guns as instruments of self-defense.

“Restrictive laws only affect the law-abiding,” he said. “Why are we looking at these instruments the way we do?”

Contact Mekenna Malan at 801-625-4280 or mmalan@standard.net.

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