Doug Ritter Testimony before the Arizona House Committee on Government

Prepared Testimony by Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter before the Arizona House Committee on Government, March 16, 2010

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Doug Ritter and I am Chairman of Knife Rights and a resident of Gilbert, Arizona.

Knife Rights is an Arizona based, national 501(c)(4) GRASSROOTS member organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the rights of Knife Owners.

We started Knife Rights in 2006 after a highly inaccurate article appeared in the Wall Street Journal railing against so-called Tactical Knives and I had an epiphany. If we didn’t organize and create a strong grassroots organization to fight for our rights, we could lose them as have citizens in many other countries. We believe that knives are essential tools, tools used daily by millions of honest law-abiding hardworking Americans, tools that are part of the American tradition.

This past summer Knife Rights was instrumental in preventing U.S. Customs from arbitrarily redefining as a Switchblade fully 80% of the folding knives sold in America today. In response to this absurd proposed Customs ruling, an amendment to the Federal Switchblade Act to specifically exempt one-hand opening and assisted opening knives was passed by Congress with strong bipartisan support.

Knife Rights chose Arizona to launch our National Knife Law Preemption Campaign because our state has a long tradition of individual rights and Arizona has always been a Knife Friendly State. We felt Arizona should lead the way in the protection of knife owners from archaic, unnecessary and restrictive knife ordinances. It is a matter of fairness and civil rights. SB1153 will serve as model legislation for other states to enact in order to protect knife owners.

A number of towns and cities in Arizona have their own restrictive ordinances concerning knives and what is legal and illegal. Most use ambiguous and vague descriptions, such as Yuma’s restrictions on knives “designed or intended for fighting.” How can an honest citizen possibly know the ordinances in every jurisdiction in Arizona? This is exactly the sort of thing that leads to abuses of civil rights. When the hundreds of thousands of honest and law-abiding Arizonans who carry a knife daily for use in their work or recreation leave their home, they should not have to worry about inadvertently committing a crime because they cross a city or town line.

Firearms preemption was enacted over a decade ago with no problems whatsoever, despite dire predictions from opponents. Preemption created continuity, consistency and fairness for citizens and law enforcement alike. Knife Owners deserve no less.

Thank you Mr. Chairman and the committee for your time. I will gladly answer any questions, but may defer to my colleague, Todd Rathner, on technical legal questions, should, they arise.