Knife Rights 2010 Appeal Letter

Dear Knife Enthusiast:

Today, in many parts of the world, knife ownership and carry is severely restricted. In many so-called civilized nations the one-hand opening, lock blade pocket knives that represent 80% of the knives sold in the U.S. today are either outlawed entirely or their carry is illegal except in very restricted circumstances. Even simple non-locking traditional pocketknives are illegal in some places or their length severely restricted.

If you don’t believe that these sorts of restrictions common elsewhere in the world cannot come to the U.S. you are in serious denial. Wake up! If we don’t act now, we will lose our rights to own and carry the knives we want.

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Just 18 months ago the Federal government tried to redefine as a switchblade these same practical and useful one-hand opening knives. That misguided effort was beaten back only after an expensive and intensive defense, but that hasn’t stopped renewed attacks on our pocketknives. The same anti-freedom zealots who have been promoting gun-control for decades, with decided setbacks of late, have now turned their attention to our knives that we carry daily.

The fight for our knife rights is the Second Front in Defense of the Second Amendmentâ„¢. America’s Grassroots Knife Owners Organizationsâ„¢, Knife Rights and Knife Rights Foundation, are fighting these efforts, but we need your help to stop this new assault on our individual rights.

On the one hand, it is ironic and sad that we must fall back on the rare use of our tools as weapons to defend our right to own and carry them. On the other hand, thankfully, as Americans, we have that constitutionally protected right. One can hope commonsense prevails, but when it doesn’t, having a strong legal argument is the ultimate defense.

They’ve attacked pocketknives because they haven’t seen any grassroots based organization representing knife owners putting up a fight. To them, knives represent an easy, incremental target that will move them ever-closer to what they are really after: total disarmament of American citizens. To these extremists, knives are viewed only as weapons, not the tools that we know them to be.

Don’t let anti-freedom extremists like Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. reach into your pocket and take your knife and your freedom! Support Knife Rights and Knife Rights Foundation with your end-of-year contributions so we can stop them in their tracks right now.

We urgently need your help to turn back their assaults on all our rights. Today, only two grassroots organizations are willing to stand up to these anti-freedom extremists attacking our knives: Knife Rights and Knife Rights Foundation. We are leading the charge to defend your rights in this battle.

We know how to fight them and WIN! Last year, when the Obama Administration attacked our pocketknives by trying to reinterpret the 50-year-old Federal Switchblade Act, we were able to mount a truly bipartisan effort to get an amendment to that Act that specifically exempted one-handed and assisted opening pocketknives from the definitions of switchblade or gravity knife.

But, sad to say, that didn’t slow the efforts to ban those knives. Despite the clear bipartisan victory in Congress, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has targeted the very same knives. Should DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. succeed, he will have banned eighty percent-—yes, 80%—-of the pocketknives sold in the United States today. We’re talking about the same practical knives that electricians, plumbers, contractors, police and EMS workers count on every day to do their jobs. The same incredibly useful knives that outdoorsmen, hunters and sailors use all the time. We are talking about your knives.

Should District Attorney Vance succeed in New York, every DA or Mayor with an anti-Second Amendment agenda will follow suit. There’s really no option, we must STOP this insanity – before it spreads.

DA Vance launched his anti-knife campaign by targeting major retailers, claiming they were selling illegal knives and reportedly threatening millions of dollars in fines and jail time—on trumped up charges. As a result, retailers were intimidated into making millions of dollars of so-called “contributions” to what we believe is an unaccountable “slush fund” controlled by his office in exchange for deferred prosecution agreements.

More than a dozen retailers, including Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Orvis, Eastern Mountain Sports and Paragon (the largest sporting goods store in Manhattan) appear to have made these "contributions" under threat of fine and imprisonment rather than fight the District Attorney Vance ‘s prosecutorial machine. For them, it seems it was easier to just pay up to make the DA go away-—even if it cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars-—than it was to take a stand and fight. To that, we have only one comment: shame on all of you!

If This Intimidation Succeeds, Popular Pocketknives Disappear

These retailers didn’t just pay these so-called "contributions," they also turned over their existing stock and promised to never, ever sell so-called gravity knives and switchblades. In fact, according to documents released by independent dealers, Ace Hardware not only agreed to DA Vance’s demands for Manhattan, they made their deal for the ENTIRE STATE of NEW YORK! It has also been reported that one of these major retailers was so spooked by this intimidating and expensive experience that it is no longer buying assisted-opening knives for any of its stores anywhere in the U.S.!

These major corporations virtually abandoned their Manhattan customers, and in some cases more than just in Manhattan, and gave DA Vance the money he needed to widen his attack. As you might expect, in fear of this rogue DA, independent retailers pulled these most popular, functional and perfectly legal knives off their shelves.

Overnight, Vance pulled off what was nothing short of a virtual "shakedown" of legitimate businesses selling legal products and virtually banned these perfectly legal knives in Manhattan. And, he isn’t done yet. In a press conference, he announced his next wave of criminal prosecutions will go after Internet Knife Retailers. Already, many internet retailers have stopped shipping knives to New York City. Many are so spooked that they have stopped selling to the entire state!.

These tactics employed by Vance would be viewed by most as extortion if the mafia or a gang did it and have set a potentially devastating precedent. If he’s not stopped, the lure of huge amounts of "shakedown" cash may simply be too much for anti-Second Amendment politicians to resist. In fact, he’s already offered to use some of this cash to bankroll other District Attorneys who might jump on board his campaign.

If Cyrus Vance, Jr. isn’t stopped—soon—it won’t be long before major retailers decide it’s just not worth the potential consequences to sell knives. It won’t just be an economic disaster for hard-working knife companies; it will be a devastatingly effective limitation on all our rights and freedoms.

Overnight, an illegitimate attack on a legal product has established a virtual ban on these the most popular category of pocketknives. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? If Vance isn’t stopped, all our Second Amendment rights are threatened. When he’s stopped, however, we will have struck another huge blow for all our freedoms. We at Knife Rights are committed to stopping Vance–but we urgently need your help.

What We’re Doing About It

We’ve taken the first step in creating the Knife Rights Foundation and the Sharper Futurâ„¢ Legal Fund to carry the legal fight to those who would limit our rights. We’re directly fighting for the civil rights of knife owners, but ultimately our fight protects all our freedoms.

We have an experienced legal team of skilled attorneys. Alan Gura, who won both recent precedent-setting Heller and McDonald decisions at the Supreme Court, is our lead constitutional law attorney. Joining him is a team of lawyers well-known to Second Amendment supporters: Evan Nappen and Hugh Jasne. We have agreements to cap the cost of litigation­all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. Our legal team’s first foray against DA Vance Jr’s witch hunt has resulted in dismissal of charges, as expected, but the fight has only just begun. Additional defendants are being signed up to challenge DA Vance’s prosecution of honest knife owners and perversion of New York’s laws on statutory and constitutional ground. We also anticipate filing civil litigation. One way or another, the issue will likely make its way into the Federal Courts.

Knife Rights Foundation has taken a stand and raised nearly a quarter-million dollars in cash and commitments for the Sharper Futureâ„¢ Legal Fund, but that’s only forty percent (40%) of our current needs. It’s allowed us to start, but we have to finish. The old saying “Freedom isn’t free” has never been truer than today. We urgently need your financial support to see this through to the end.

We founded Knife Rights in 2006, knowing that—sooner or later—the anti’s would imitate the ridiculous laws already in place across Europe that ban the majority of pocketknives. Here, in the United States, we knew that grassroots Americans wouldn’t buffalo so easily, but only if they organized.

We knew an organization that focused on grassroots support of knife owners’ rights had to be formed. Gun owners had a list of organizations, including the NRA, CCRKBA, SAF, GOA and others, but knife owners were on their own. At first many were skeptical, but today no one’s laughing.

When the first attack came in 2009, we were all blindsided. Instead of the frontal assault we expected, we were hit by a sneak attack from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Obama Administration and Customs were hell-bent on redefining the switchblade. Their new interpretation, for no apparent reason, was broadened to cover 80% of the knives sold in America today. As we’ve seen too often, bureaucrats were going to use rulemaking to change the law, sidestepping the political process, threatening an entire industry and the knives carried and used by many honest hard-working Americans today.

Knife Rights led the aggressive and, ultimately, successful grassroots defense of our assisted and one-hand opening folders. With the cooperation of a coalition of industry and grassroots organizations, our successful defense opened a lot of eyes to the threat and support for Knife Rights.

When Congress amended the Federal Switchblade Act to specifically exempt today’s incredibly popular, practical and safer one-hand and assisted opening pocketknives, it wasn’t just the first affirmative knife law enacted at the Federal level, it was a victory for all our Second Amendment rights.

Our Defense Can’t Rest

But DA Vance’s actions tell us those same extremists and politicians aren’t through. They want to tell you what knife you can own, carry and use–and would just as soon get rid of all pocketknives. Even at the local level, these people believe they know-—better than you-—what’s best for all of us. Today, it’s not just the high profile battles in Congress that threaten our rights, it’s the smaller battles in towns and cities where we’re seeing individual rights eroded. But, we don’t have to stand by and watch it happen.

Knife Rights has begun a bold legislative agenda intended to positively impact knife owners’ civil rights throughout the country.

Knife Rights’ National Knife Law Preemption Campaign was launched in Arizona, and we successfully passed America’s first Knife Preemption Law. This new state legislation not only prohibits political subdivisions from enacting new ordinances and rules, it voided all the existing local knife ordinances.

Like firearms preemption laws in place in 46 states, Knife Law Preemption removes a confusing and discriminatory patchwork of local knife restrictions that entrap people traveling within or through a state. Otherwise, a person traveling in a state can be charged with a violation specific to a community and unknown to them.

Knife Law Preemption is a giant step forward in the elimination of unreasonable, unfair and often unconstitutional local restrictions so law-abiding knife owners are subject to the same rules wherever they travel within a state.

Honestly, we see no reason that every state with firearms preemption shouldn’t have a knife preemption law. It won’t happen overnight, but the passage of our model legislation in Arizona is a big first step in that effort. Already, a number of legislators in other states are looking to follow our lead in their own states.

Right now, Knife Rights is working in over a dozen states to introduce Knife Law Preemption legislation when their new legislative sessions begin next year. But we need your help to continue the success we began last year.

At the same time, we’re working to remove existing restrictive state laws. Many states have confusing legislation based on the original 50-year old Federal Switchblade Act. The New York statute is one of those pieces of confusing legislation. It’s also the same New York statute DA Vance is abusing in his assault on our civil rights.

In New Hampshire, Knife Rights provided lobbying and legislative support to pass a Knife Rights Bill that completely eliminated restrictions on knives, including switchblades, dirks, daggers and stilettos.

The success in New Hampshire is proof you can eliminate irrational and outdated restrictions—if you organize carefully and lobby hard. Those efforts take money.

At the same time, we must be strong to fight back new restrictions. Just this December 13th a Washington state representative has introduced a bill amending Washington law to outlaw concealed carry of knives with blades longer than 3 1/2 inches. While Arizona, New Hampshire and other states are making progress in the personal choices law abiding citizens make regarding the type of knives they carry, Rep. Sherry Appleton (D – LD23) is looking to set her state’s knife laws back decades. Knife Rights is the only defense against such efforts.

We have proven that Knife Rights can make a difference. We have accomplished a lot-—with very minimal resources. But, fighting the good fight, even if you are careful to always get the most from every dollar, costs money. Without your support we cannot step up our efforts to meet the crisis in New York and stop a threat that will, if not stopped, ultimately impact us all.

The best defense is a strong offense. Knife Rights is committed to an aggressive strategy to protect our freedoms. After all, the Second Amendment applies to knife owners, too.

We Can Win These Battles, But Only With Your Help

Knife Rights is a volunteer run, very lean, very efficient and very focused organization. We don’t have the overhead of a large advocacy organization. We don’t have the ancillary issues or services of large organizations. We are a lean, mean and very effective fighting machine.

We’ve proven we can get results. But, we are at a critical stage where we need to raise significantly more funds to meet current challenges-—like the illegitimate assault on knife owners launched by District Attorney Vance. We need your contributions to fund our legislative and litigation efforts going forward.

Freedom isn’t free, and neither is the fight to protect our existing freedoms. Knife Rights and Knife Rights Foundation have a keen focus that enables us to get measurable results from every dollar donated. But, we need your help, we need your dollars.

Please help us continue to push back—hard—against these anti-freedom extremists.

You can make your contribution online at: or you can click here to download a contribution form to fill out and send in with your check or credit card contribution, or you can call us toll-free1-886-889-6268 to make your contribution.


Doug Ritter
Knife Rights, Inc.
Knife Rights Foundation, Inc.

P.S. I pledge to you that every penny you contribute will be used to stop this insanity, to stop these anti-freedom zealots. Nobody gets more done with your donation than Knife Rights. Please support both the Sharper Futureâ„¢ Legal Fund and the Second Frontâ„¢ legislative campaign. Both will provide you an unparalleled return on your investment in protecting your Second Amendment rights.

Statement of Tax Deductibility of Contributions:

Knife Rights Foundation, Inc., is an Arizona non-profit corporation with IRS Form 1023 application for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in process. Contributions to the Sharper Futureâ„¢ Legal Fund are tax-deductible.

Knife Rights, Inc. is a an Arizona non-profit corporation with IRS 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. Contributions to Knife Rights, Inc., and the Second Frontâ„¢ fundraising campaign are NOT tax deductible.

Please consult your tax professional.

Knife Rights, Essential Tools-Essential Rights & Knife Rights logo are trademarks of Knife Rights, Inc. and Knife Rights Foundation, Inc.