It begins.....

At the AKTI Board Meeting in Chicago in mid-February, we did discuss the tragedy of the murder of the Dartmouth professors. And I am currently being sent further information provided by the manufacturer of the alleged murder weapon. If there is someting instructive for the industry in the material, I will relay it.

I certainly understand the frustration of commentators on this thread. But the biggest challenge for AKTI is to try to channel these kinds of frustations into tangible, positive, impactful action.

The AKTI Board and AKTI members often have different views of what AKTI should and can do. And it's not only an issue of money. Our publicity efforts, for example, are really dependent on how much time we can hire to do this job with the monies received from membership. Since we have limited resources, our discussions of action plans always involve setting priorities and trying to get as much impact as we can with our limited funds.

AKTI has been in existence for three years, having celebrated our anniversary in January. By comparison, the NRA has been in existence since at least the 1920s. Therefore, to judge our influence and progress by comparison to the current NRA is not even possible.

It is AKTI's current position that we have to fight the battles that involve the largest numbers of companies and individuals in the industry. And they have to be battles we have some likelihood of influencing given our limited resources. When members start leaving us $1,000,000 gifts, we will have more resources for these pending battles. IN the meantime, all we can do is to promise to use memberhsip monies as wisely and efficiently as possible.

Since I came on board in October 2000, the knife magazines have been getting regular monthly articles and updates on AKTI business. And we have been trying to get those updates on our website as they have been written.

If you visit us at on a monthly basis, you will see new information.

Now we have added more than 40 hunting, fishing and outdoor magazines to our list of monthly update recipients, as well as executives at all the major knife companies.

We have also recognized we need to get involved in the very time-consuming process of influencing legislation and developing contacts with lawmakers. AKTI has made significant progress in California and the District Attorney's Association in that state knows who we are and responds to our concerns. We believe our strategy there can be used productively in other states. It's not fast or particularly glamorous, but it is an efficient use of member dollars.

To give you a better sense of what we are trying to do in the real world of state politics, I am including the recent monthly update I just sent to my contact list about our efforts in California.

We need the support of all of you. And we appreciate your support. Here's the update....

Hello Knife Industry Executives:

The companies that are currently in AKTI are contributing thousands of dollars to help keep knives in American lives. The situation in California is the clearest example I can give you of what they're doing to support this industry. That means AKTI is supporting your ability to do business in California and potentially every other state.

I will also be sending you an update soon on pending legislation in New York that would outlaw carrying a knife longer than four inches. We are active and involved there.

AKTI has hired a lobbyist to work for us in California. That commitment amounts to $50,000 over two years (2000 and 2001 sessions).

We need your financial support to carry on this fight and others pending.

As for California, here's the news I just received from our lobbyist....

"Our bill amending Penal Code Section 653k has been introduced. It is SB 274 (Karnette). Senator Karnette is a Democrat from Long Beach and is a member of the Rules Committee. She is also a close confidante of Senate leader John Burton. I expect our first committee hearing in late March/early April."

Now here's the significant background ...

AKTI Proposes New Language to Save One-Handers in California in 2001

February 8, 2001. The American Knife and Tool Institute (AKTI) continues in 2001 to move forward to save the exemption for one-hand opening knives that is in jeopardy in California.

In early 2000 the California District Attorney’s Association (CDAA), prompted by the concerns of the Deputy District Attorney for Ventura County, began taking a hard look at striking the exemption to the switchblade law that allowed carrying one-hand opening knives. Too many gang members were getting their knives back after being arrested and released. AKTI learned about the issue, hired a lobbyist, then met with the CDAA representatives to negotiate a compromise that would protect one-handers in the state.

Meetings with CDAA led to several positive results in 2000. First of all, CDAA learned that AKTI exists to represent and protect the responsible uses of knives and responsible members of the knife industry. CDAA also agreed that if a one-hand opening knife has a "bias toward closure" then it would not be a threat to police officers concerned about "surprise attacks" by gang members. Finally, CDAA agreed that before it proposed new regulations, it would consult AKTI.

The 2000 legislative session passed without further action on the proposal. In short, AKTI’s quick and strong response saved one-hand openers for users in the state in 2000. And it’s negotiations saved the California marketplace for responsible manufacturers.

However, the issue has come up again in the 2001 legislative session that began in December 2000. And AKTI continues to move forward with a positive and responsible position that represents both the knife industry and helps law enforcement officials in the state deal with the cheap one-handers, the so-called "junk knives" that can be tampered with by gang members to give them an easily concealed and easily used weapon.

Chris Micheli, representing Carpenter Snodgrass & Associates, the lobbyist firm hired by AKTI, offered this background information on January 24, 2001 …

More Background on the problem:

Proposed Amendments to Penal Code Section 653K

"In Ventura County, judges have read the PC 653K statute (the definition and its exception for one-hand opening knives to the law forbidding switchblade knives) to be conflicting. As such, they are finding the language to be in favor of Defendants and ordering prosecutors and peace officers to return dangerous knives to young gang members and dismissing cases against them. This has occurred dozens of times in the past 12 months in Ventura.

"Los Angeles County reports similar confusion. I was contacted by this county last year and the D.A.’s office there is now rejecting law enforcement agency requests for criminal complaints. They are doing so because of the vague nature of the statute that makes proving the crime and seizing the weapon near impossible.

"I was contacted by Howard Welch of Shasta County D.A.’s office. He too indicated that his office has been "declining to issue" criminal complaints in this area due to ambiguity.

"Finally, Lassen County contacted me to report the same. They are rejecting complaint requests due to statute’s ambiguity.

"It is generally thought that this statute could be interpreted two ways. One interpretation undermines prosecution efforts to remove flip knives from the streets. The other interpretation undermines the drafters’ original efforts to create an exemption for law-abiding sportsmen."

While the Ventura County situation prompted the entire issue in 2000, further polling of District Attorneys throughout the state by both CDAA and AKTI revealed the above concerns and law enforcement frustrations in other parts of the state. As a step in the process of resolution, Chris Micheli and members of the AKTI Board of Regents drafted new wording for the current exemption for one-handing opening knives that exists in the California Penal Code Section 653K. (This statute regulating switchblades follows … with proposed new wording in italics.)

Proposed Amendments to Penal Code Section 653k

Every person who possesses in the passenger’s or driver’s area of any motor vehicle in any public place or place open to the public, carries upon his or her person, and every person who sells, offers for sale, exposes for sale, loans, transfers, or gives to any other person a switchblade knife having a blade two or more inches in length is guilty of a misdemeanor.

For the purposes of this section, "switchblade knife" means a knife having the appearance of a pocketknife and includes a spring-blade knife, snap-blade knife, gravity knife or any other similar type knife, the blade or blades of which are two or more inches long in length and which can be released automatically by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle, flip of the wrist or other mechanical device, or is released by the weight of the blade or by any type of mechanism whatsoever. "Switchblade knife" does not include a knife that is designed to opens with one hand utilizing thumb pressure applied solely to the blade of the knife or a thumb stud attached to the blade, provided that the knife utilizes a detent or other mechanism that (a) provides resistance that must be overcome in opening the blade, or (b) biases the blade back toward its closed position.

For purposes of this section, "passenger’s or driver’s area" means that part of a motor vehicle which is designed to carry the driver and passengers, including any interior compartment or space therein.

Rationale (by Chris Micheli)

The purpose of the proposed amendments is to address the prosecutorial concerns about the current statute, primarily the "designed" language which has been interpreted by several trial courts to provide a blanket exemption for all one-handed folding knives. The proposed amendments would only allow knives to fall under the exemption from the switchblade law if the knife contains a detent or similar mechanism. Such mechanisms ensure there is a measure of resistance that prevents the knife from being easily opened with a flick of the wrist. Most of the knives that are being confiscated by law enforcement are "junk knives" that do not have such resistance mechanisms. This is why junk knives are easily opened, often with the flick of a wrist, rather than through the use of the thumb to rotate the blade into its open and locked position. The exception for one-handed opening knives was designed to decriminalize the legitimate use of these extremely functional tools by law-abiding citizens. The proposed amendments accomplish this important purpose by establishing more objective criteria for determining whether a knife meets the intended exception to the switchblade law.

Where are we in this entire process? First of all, AKTI continues meaningful communication with the CDAA through Chris Micheli. He has also offered these recent and very encouraging updates….

January 29, 2001. "We have a tentative OK from Senator Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach), to carry our switchblade knife. I should know for sure in the next day or so. She is a member of the powerful Rules Committee, and is a close confidante of Senate leader John Burton. We will be starting our effort in the Senate Public Safety Committee. The hearing will likely be in late March. I will give you a bill number and other relevant information as soon as it becomes available. However, I wanted you to know this good news. It is the right way to start this legislative effort."

February 2, 2001. "Yesterday I met with the Governor's Deputy Legislative Secretary who handles public safety / penal code legislation to explain our bill. She indicated that they would be supportive of the measure. She suggested that Larry {Larry Brown of CDAA} and I get the CA State Sheriffs Association and PORAC, Peace Officers Research Assn of CA, to support the bill as well. We will work to get them on board. Our bill will be introduced in the next two weeks."

What began as a potentially devastating blow to law-abiding knife users and to knife sales in California is now proceeding through the legislative system with AKTI input and scrutiny. We are optimistic about the chances for success. And we will continue to provide updates as we progress.

David Kowalski

AKTI Communications Coordinator

(715) 445-3781
What is really sad, is that once again, MA is jumping on the bandwagon. This crime was not committed in MA. The criminals are not from MA. The victims are not from MA. The weapon was not purchased in MA. The knife was not shipped from out of state to MA. Yet the press and the politicians in MA are going to have a field day.