Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

DHS invading my pocket

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The Department of Homeland Security has had the bright idea of classifying any knife that can be opened with one hand (like almost all of the pocket knives I own) as a "switchblade." Whoever made that decision doesn’t live in the real world. A pocket knife with one-hand open is invaluable—the other hand is free to hold the string or whatever, while the one hand reaches into my pocket, gets the knife, and opens it.

I think the rule stems from knife-phobia, which is more common than I thought. I once took a box to be mailed, and when asked if anything inside was fragile, liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous, I said no, it was just a knife—a knife with a 9" blade. The postal clerk (a woman) blanched and said, "I don’t think you can mail that."

What?! I told her I bought it on-line and it was delivered by mail, and what was the problem with mailing a knife? She didn’t answer but started flipping through a big book of regulations—no way was she going to accept that package if she could possibly avoid it. A big knife! Too scary! (I wonder how she cuts vegetables in her kitchen—or maybe she has a big pot and cooks them all whole.)

She finally asked the clerk next to her if knives could be mailed. He looked at her as if she was from another planet (Venus, I guess) and said, "Yes."

At any rate, Shawn Zeller for Congressional Quarterly reports:

The National Rifle Association strikes fear in politicians and bureaucrats who might be tempted to restrict gun sales. Now it’s warning the Department of Homeland Security that it also won’t tolerate efforts to restrict knife imports.

The spat centers on a decision by Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection division last month to classify knives that can be opened with one hand as switchblades — even if they don’t open with the simple press of a button, the method best understood in popular culture. The sparsely worded announcement said the department was planning to revoke previous guidance to manufacturers that knives that open with the help of spring mechanisms are not switchblades.

Customs spokeswoman Jenny Burke said in a statement that the agency had in the past issued conflicting rules — some permitting spring-loaded knives, others forbidding them — and that the rule change would clarify the agency’s stance. “Health and public safety concerns” were an important consideration in banning the knives, she added.

But in an e-mail message sent to members earlier this month, the NRA warned that the proposal “could make hundreds of millions of knives, now in regular use, illegal” — and in so doing adversely affect hunters.

The American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI), a trade group, and Knife Rights, which says it represents individual knife owners, are lobbying to block the proposal. The institute’s lobbyist, J. Nicole Bivens Collinson of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, has pressed lawmakers to weigh in, and last week more than 80 House members, led by Republican Bob Latta of Ohio and Democrat Walt Minnick of Idaho, signed a letter asking Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to reconsider the proposal.

“We’re struggling to understand the rationale for this, because there’s been no rash of crime having to do with folding knives,” says David Kowalski, the AKTI spokesman. Nor, Kowalski says, is there any evidence that the knives pose a safety hazard. The institute claims that about four in five new knives sold in this country would fall under the switchblade definition, including such ubiquitous models as the Swiss Army knife…

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2009 at 9:49 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

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