I was in Portland, Oregon, a week ago, in large part to talk with knife manufacturers about USKTA. That included holding a briefing for industry during Blade Show West. The fine folks at Blade made available a meeting room and we had a good sized group in attendance. That briefing turned into an hour and a half long meeting with a lot of valuable discussion, suggestions and input.
Speaking of Blade Magazine, Editor Steve Shackleford wrote an excellent editorial, "They Are Coming After Us," in the November issue. His conclusion is most apropos to our effort to organize; "In his efforts to bring down an industry, it may just be that he (Mike Fritz, author of the WSJ article) stumbled on a way to unite it." All I can say is, "amen to that."
You can access and read his entire editorial at: http://www.uskta.org/media.htm#novemberunsheathed (opens a new browser window)
I returned from that trip very pleased with the support I have garnered. For the most part, even those who were initially skeptical are coming around to realize that if we don't get ourselves organized so that we become a major force to be reckoned with, we're just sitting ducks. I was stopped by many individuals at the show who told me that they had signed up at www.USKTA.org and who were enthusiastic in their support.
Perhaps most importantly, a number of those who lead the industry pledged financial support needed to get this off the ground. I believe others will follow their lead. It will cost thousands of dollars to reach the point where we can offer you membership in a viable organization. I think it is telling that many of these executives and business owners are giving as individuals, not corporately. This serves to emphasize that this new organization is owner and enthusiast driven. We need the support of industry, but this will be a grass roots organization, controlled by knife owners.
Those who make substantial contributions that provide seed money for this organization will be accorded Cornerstone Founding memberships status in recognition of their critical role in establishing the organization. If you or someone you know might be interested in making a substantial contribution at this time, Please email me directly.
I continue to receive emails and calls from supporters asking why we don't just start collecting member dues and get on with it. The first response is that we don't feel comfortable asking members to join something that's not yet a reality and about which we cannot provide full disclosure. A related answer is that we are in this for the long haul and any substantial endeavor requires a sound foundation to give it the best chance for success. The NRA, AOPA, and the like have had decades to grow and develop. We don't have decades, but we also have to get it right the first time. If we screw up, we all lose. Doing this right isn't the easy or quickest path, but it's an investment in our future. Please be patient as we set the stage; we are going as fast as limited resources allow.
I and our lawyers and accountants continue work on articles of incorporation, bylaws and our IRS tax-exempt organization applications. We will be forming two organizations, operating with a common board of directors, as allowed under IRS regulations. One will be a 501(c)(4) "social welfare" member based advocacy organization. While this organization is tax-exempt, member dues and any contributions are not tax-deductible. The other will be a 501(c)(3) foundation that will focus on education and outreach. A 501(c)(3) non-profit is prohibited from engaging in advocacy and political activity, in exchange for which contributions are tax-deductible. Eventually, assuming things go well, a political action committee (PAC) will be formed as well to allow more direct political activity in support of candidates for office, where that may be appropriate. But, that's a ways down the road.
Both organizations will be guided by a common mission and we are refining that mission statement with input, in part, from the meetings I have been holding. I have also been in discussions with active members of the industry's group, www.AKTI.org (American Knife and Tool Institute), in an effort to ensure that we avoid stepping on each other's toes and that we will be able to cooperate towards common goals when that's critical to success.
More than one person has suggested that United States Knife and Tool Association is an awkward and not particularly memorable name. I can't argue against that. It was developed in a matter of hours when we had to find something to get this Web site up and running and we were limited by what short domains were available, as well as, perhaps, somewhat limited imagination as a result of the short deadline we were dealing with. We are working to rectify that. We have identified the perfect domain and now we just need to convince the owner to contribute it for our use. Please keep your fingers crossed. If this effort fails, we'll be seeking some other more memorable name. With so many domains already taken, this is not an easy task and in this day and age, a good, short domain that we can easily publicize and incorporate in our logo and recruiting materials and that anyone can remember will be an extremely important element of our strategy to grow the organization and become a force to be reckoned with.
Somewhat related, there's been some discussion of a logo for the organization and the need for it to be bold and readily identifiable. You'll get no argument from me about that. We have received a few offers to design one and have even had some designs sent to us. Until the name of the organization is finalized, this is a moot point. Once the name is finalized, we will have essentially two options; either we hire a professional design team or have a contest. The latter option is appealing if for no other reason than the fact that financial resources are so tight. And, it doesn't hurt that the knife world is home to many extremely talented and creative individuals.
We are also planning the Web site, which is both central to our recruiting strategy and also the most significant means of providing members with services they will find valuable. At this point it is simply an outline, but one which is allowing us to at the same time map out the critical services that we feel we need to provide to members. Actually implementing the Web site will be a resource intensive and expensive proposition and we anticipate phasing in portions of the site as membership (and available resources) grows. Bearing in mind that this is very much a work in progress, you can view the outline as of this date at: http://www.uskta.org/uskta_website_draft.htm (opens a new browser window)
At the bottom that page you will also find a link to email us your comments. I welcome suggestions for services or information you feel would be valuable to you or that would serve as incentive for others to join the organization.
Once again, Britain offers up an example of the sort of society that those we oppose want to see take hold here in the U.S. The following link is to an article relating that police in South Cheshire have received hand-held metal detectors so that officers on patrol can more easily identify those carrying pocket knives so they can be arrested and prosecuted for that heinous crime. To quote, "Assistant Chief Constable David Baines, who is leading the knife enforcement campaign, said: 'This equipment will help our officers to check more people, identify more offenders who carry weapons (by which he means knives) and play a significant part in making Cheshire safer.'" Reading this article should send shivers down the spine of any freedom loving American. These same misguided activists that have stripped away the rights of these British citizens, and those of Australians and others around the world, are aiming to do the same thing here.
Read the whole article at: http://tinyurl.com/l3lnj (opens a new browser window)
YOU hold the success of this effort in your hands. If everyone who has signed up could just get 5 of their friends to sign up, and they get five of their friends, and so on, we'd soon have thousands signed-up. There's no other way to build up an organization like this from zero. Make it your personal goal to get five sign-ups in the next week. www.USKTA.org (opens a new browser window)
Besides outright appeals to your friends and associates who also own and use knives and edged tools, you can also help with more subtle efforts. Knife writer Dexter Ewing deserves credit for being the first (that I am aware of) to add a plea to his email and online forum signatures. I've followed suit and I urge you to do so as well. Just add this to your sig:
Have you signed up? Go to: www.USKTA.org United States Knife & Tool Association Protecting your right to own and carry knives and tools