SALT LAKE CITY -- Owning and carrying a knife is the right of every American citizen and Utahn, says an Ogden lawmaker.
That is why Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, is sponsoring House Bill 271, which prohibits counties and cities from creating ordinances regulating the use of knives.
HB 271 was passed unanimously Thursday by the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Standing Committee and now goes before the Senate floor for further consideration.
Wilcox said some of his constituents who are sportsmen came to him about concerns they had after learning some municipalities in neighboring states had banned certain types of knives.
"These are your average fishermen, hunters and sportsmen, who wouldn't know they may have the 'wrong' type of knife when they came into town," Wilcox said.
Owning and carrying a knife is protected under the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment, which allows citizens to carry and bear arms, Wilcox said. It is also protected under the Utah Constitution.
"We don't have a problem in Utah, but in some of the surrounding states, their cities have imposed restrictive ordinances," Wilcox said.
One of those states was Arizona, said Todd J. Rathner, director of legislative affairs with Knife Rights, a nonprofit organization similar to the National Rifle Association.
Phoenix had an ordinance on its books that made it illegal for anyone to have a knife with a blade longer than 3 inches in a city park unless it was being used to serve food, Rathner said.
Phoenix and 12 other Arizona municipalities have recently repealed their knife ordinances, he said.
"Bad actions should be punished, not the tools," Rathner said.
He said it should be up to the state, not the local governments, to create ordinances concerning the use of knives.
"If there is a problem in the Salt Lake area, it is probably affecting the St. George area, too."
Jim Brown, owner of Blade HG in Lehi, said knife regulations would affect his business, which receives orders over the Internet.
"We'd have to know every county and city ordinance," Brown said.
Many who carry knives are sportsmen who like to camp, hike, fish or hunt.
Wilcox said cities such as San Francisco have made carrying a knife illegal in hopes of curtailing gang activity.
"But," he said, "the gangs are still there."