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Thread: A question about WI switchblade law

  1. #1
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    A question about WI switchblade law


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    Hi all,

    Here is WI switchblade law:

    "Wisconsin - 941.24. Possession of switchblade knife. (1)
    Whoever manufactures, sells or offers to sell, transports,
    purchases, possesses or goes armed with any knife having a
    blade which opens by pressing a button, spring or other
    device in the handle or by gravity or by a thrust or
    movement is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor... [Note: the
    wording of this statute is different from all other state
    switchblade statutes.]"

    Now, it mentions that a knife with a blade that opens by a thrust or movement is prohibited. In your opinion, would that prohibit Kershaw assisted openers? In my opinion, it seems like that would outlaw all folding knives in WI because all folding knife blades open with some type of movement, whether it be one-handed or two-handed.

    Opinions, comments? (Yes, I do know the disclaimers of seeking legal advise on a public forum, and that I should talk with the DA about specific questions, etc.)

  2. #2
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    Personally, I wouldn't risk it.

    The tricky part about assisted openers is that they're not switchblades as far as the Federal Government is concerned. This means you can find them in pretty much any state, even at places like Wal*Mart. People figure that if you can get them at Wal*Mart, they're legal to carry. Which isn't necessarily true.

    IMO, in regards to WI's laws, the difference between an assisted knife and a knife (like a Spyderco) which you can whip open with a wrist flick is that the expected method of opening a Spyderco is normally manually moving the blade. The assisted only opens assisted. What I mean is a Spyderco is intended to be opened normally, while the assisted can only open in a snap. Which would be much harder to explain to a cop or argue in court.

    That's the way I see things, but I'm not a lawyer, blah, blah, blah, etc.
    -Aaron

  3. #3
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    That's what I thought too. I wasn't planning on carrying an assisted opener, (even though you can buy them here) I was just curious what others thought.


    The part about opening the blade with a movement stills seems like a dangerous gray area to me, though. I assume they mean a movement which isn't a normal movement like a push open with a thumbstud, or a lift with a nail nick, but it still seems to me that if someone really wanted to make trouble for you they could because folding knives open either with a movement of the thumb on the thumbstud, or a lift of the blade by the nail nick.

  4. #4
    I am in NY, but the law is similar in that any folding knife will at some point become subject to opening with the snap of a wrist or centifical force. There are a very few that will not open this way, and I have several that I have set aside to carry solely for the reason that you can not force them to open via gravity or centifical force. The assisted openers maybe legal but I do not carry them due to the general feeling that they are quite close to a switchblade. They just barely get around the NY law, because you apply pressure to the blade and not a button in the handle. I did the gun and badge thing in NYC for several years, and I can tell you most law enforcement officers would view them as switchblades, and the DA may see things you way in the end, but you may end up with an arrest due to the type of action of the knife. There was a court ruling in NY that determined butterfly knivers were not garvity knives since they did not automatically lock when opened, but the NYC Patrolman's Guide still directs officers to arrest someone who possess them. Good Luck!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosine
    Opinions, comments? (Yes, I do know the disclaimers of seeking legal advise on a public forum, and that I should talk with the DA about specific questions, etc.)
    A quick caselaw search yielded no annotated results with that specific statute, other than a Wisconsin Attorney General opinion from 1987 which is summarized as follows:
    "Possession of balisong or butterfly knives is prohibited by W.S.A. § 941.24, since their blades open by a thrust or movement. Op.Atty.Gen. 21-87, April 15, 1987."

    The statute is vague at best. I would think you should be safe with a Kershaw assisted opener. Hell, I have a Kershaw Leek myself, and I've even worn it to court. If you ever were to get in trouble with the law for mere possession, I would think it would be fairly easy to defend.

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