Houston Lawmaker’s Bill Draws Bipartisan Support
As the gun control debate rages in the aftermath of last December's deadly elementary school shooting in Connecticut, there's another debate gaining steam nationwide and here in Texas....knife control. The Texas state House is considering a bill by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) that would remove the state's ban on carrying switchblades in public. Dutton, who is a strong gun control advocate, argues that it doesn't make sense to have automatic knives on a list of prohibited weapons while so-called "assault-style" firearms are still legal. While Dutton's reasoning is different from Second Amendment supporters, his plan does have the backing of many conservatives and gun rights advocates.
Doug Ritter, Executive Director of the group Knife Rights Incorporated, is backing Dutton's bill and has already helped get similar bills passed in other states. Ritter tells KTRH these laws are outdated. "The switchblade laws came about as a reaction to Hollywood's demonization of switchblades in the 50s and an overreaction by a number of states." He argues it's ridiculous to ban switchblades when larger, regular knives are not restricted. "The vast majority of crimes committed with knives--assaults, fatalities, and that sort--are committed with kitchen knives which are entirely legal," he says. Moreover, Ritter says pocketknives and switchblades are generally used as tools and are no more dangerous than any other sharp object somebody could carry. "The fact that a knife will open automatically if you press a button shouldn't make it illegal," he says.
The knife rights movement appears to be gaining momentum. Ritter says 30 states have now legalized switchblades, and earlier this month federal policy was changed to allow small pocketknives on airplanes. Ritter also notes the movement to end knife bans has bipartisan support. "It think it's indicative that (these laws) didn't make sense in the first place, and it's time to fix it."