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  1. #1
    Spyderco Forum Registered User KaliGman's Avatar
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    Reflections on Restricted Items

    This post is not directed at those knife aficionados on the forum who live outside of the United States, as the laws regarding balisongs and automatic knives vary greatly from country to country. I am sure that some will take this post as a personal affront, be offended, or get angry with me, but so be it. This message needs to be posted here, as people on the forum continue to exhibit behavior that needs to be addressed. If you are a member of the forum and are not law enforcement or military I would suggest that you not post photos or otherwise discuss your illegally owned Spyderco balisong or automatic knives, discuss how to circumvent the law and obtain a Spyderco automatic or balisong, or otherwise discuss breaking the law, Many people seem to be under the mistaken belief that, as their state law does not prohibit the possession of an automatic or balisong knife, they can legally possess a Spyderco auto or balisong. This is incorrect. By way of explanation, let us discuss the applicable federal statute and some recent history.

    Here is the applicable statute (source—United States Code):

    “United States Code
    TITLE 15 - COMMERCE AND TRADE
    CHAPTER 29 - MANUFACTURE, TRANSPORTATION, OR DISTRIBUTION OF SWITCHBLADE KNIVES
    Section 1241. Definitions
    As used in this chapter -
    (a) The term ''interstate commerce'' means commerce between any State, Territory, possession of the United States, or the District of Columbia, and any place outside thereof.
    (b) The term ''switchblade knife'' means any knife having a blade which opens automatically -
    (1) by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle of the knife, or
    (2) by operation of inertia, gravity, or both.
    Section 1242. Introduction, manufacture for introduction, transportation or distribution in interstate commerce; penalty
    Whoever knowingly introduces, or manufactures for introduction, into interstate commerce, or transports or distributes in interstate commerce, any switchblade knife, shall be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
    Section 1243. Manufacture, sale, or possession within specific jurisdictions; penalty
    Whoever, within any Territory or possession of the United States, within Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18), or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7 of title 18), manufactures, sells, or possesses any switchblade knife, shall be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
    Section 1244. Exceptions
    Sections 1242 and 1243 of this title shall not apply to -
    (1) any common carrier or contract carrier, with respect to any switchblade knife shipped, transported, or delivered for shipment in interstate commerce in the ordinary course of business;
    (2) the manufacture, sale, transportation, distribution, possession, or introduction into interstate commerce, of switchblade knives pursuant to contract with the Armed Forces;
    (3) the Armed Forces or any member or employee thereof acting in the performance of his duty; or
    (4) the possession, and transportation upon his person, of any switchblade knife with a blade three inches or less in length by any individual who has only one arm.”


    Case law (judicial interpretation) and legislative action have expanded the “military” exemption to law enforcement (and usually fire/rescue) in the performance of their duties. Those who have been here awhile or who have closely followed Spyderco understand that Spyderco has had some issues with its balisongs (source American Law Newswire):

    United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that Spyderco, Inc., a Colorado corporation, pleaded guilty and was sentenced today to mailing butterfly knives, which are nonmailable, to pay a $75,000 criminal fine, a $125 special assessment, and to forfeit all such knives seized by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement from its corporate offices in Golden, Colorado (estimated to be valued at over $400,000). The guilty plea and sentence is the result of an investigation by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE").

    In pleading guilty, Spyderco admitted that from June 2005 through January 2007, it had mailed butterfly knives, after importing the knife components from Taipei, Taiwan, through the Port of San Francisco and the Port of Oakland, to Golden, Colorado. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol had issued a ruling to Spyderco holding that these knives fit the definition of "switchblade knives" as an imported knife "with a blade which opens automatically by operation of inertia, gravity, or both" and were therefore not allowed into the United States pursuant to the Switchblade Knife Act, 15 U.S.C. 1241-1245, and were further not to be mailed in the United States.

    Spyderco agreed to issue a Notice of Recall on its internet site for these butterfly knives and to mail this recall notice to reasonably identifiable customers. Spyderco also agreed not to import, transport, distribute, manufacture, sell, introduce, or attempt to introduce into interstate commerce knives defined as switchblades under the Switchblade Knife Act, in violation of the law.

    The sentence was handed down by U.S. Magistrate Judge Wayne D. Brazil following the corporate guilty plea to one violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1716(j)(1), a class A misdemeanor.

    Maureen Bessette is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case with the assistance of Cynthia Daniel. The prosecution is the result of a one year investigation by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”


    It is my understanding that the Newswire did not get all of the facts completely correct, but the gist of the matter is that Spyderco took a financial hit and had to change the way in which it was doing business in regard to balisong knives. What all of the above means to all the “knife people” on this forum is that Spyderco is complying with rulings and opinions handed down in the 10th Circuit, District of Colorado. As the District of Colorado is treating balisongs as automatic knives (switchblades), it is illegal for Spyderco to introduce into interstate commerce (i.e. to sell or ship such items outside of the state of Colorado) balisongs and automatic knives unless such knives are being sold to a distributer or dealer which has agreed to sell such items only to law enforcement or the military, or Spyderco sells the knives directly to the military or law enforcement officers. Spyderco distributors have signed agreements with Spyderco regarding this practice. If Spyderco discovers some distributor/dealer is not honoring their agreement, Spyderco will discontinue doing business with said dealer.

    Spyderco is doing all that it can to remain on the “good side” of this “bad issue.” Do I like what has happened? No. Do I think that automatic knives and balisongs are going to cause any real problems out in society? No. Do I make federal law? No, but I do enforce it. This brings me to my final point in this monster-length post.

    For those who have obtained the Spyderco balisongs or automatic knives and who are not law enforcement/emergency response or military, you are illegally in possession of such knives. Now, as in the peer-to-peer music and file sharing realm, where sometimes a person who had just downloaded a few songs was prosecuted, you are putting yourself at risk by posting about your illegality on a public forum. You can be sure that Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement is watching to make sure that Spyderco honors its agreements. If ICE or another federal agency decides to proceed with a criminal investigation, it would take merely a couple of subpoenas to get your IP and email addresses from Spyderco, and then your name and other identifying information from your email or Internet service provider. Some people may be charged “as an example” or sample group to show the “extent of the problem.” Do I know if this is being planned? No, and if I did I sure would not disclose it. Could this happen? Yes, I have seen similar tactics used in other investigations. Please note that, if you can’t legally possess a Spyderco balisong or automatic knife and are crowing about your ownership of such a knife on a public forum, all you are doing is putting Spyderco in the cross-hairs of another potential federal investigation and are possibly inviting yourself along for the ride. In addition, you put every federal law enforcement agent on the forum who has jurisdiction in regard to U.S. Code Title 15, Chapter 29, Section 1241 in an awkward position. Does such an officer report you to ICE, initiate his or her own investigation, or what? As for me, I will get a few of the restricted items as I am federal law enforcement. I don’t plan to be in this section of the forum much. I do hope that everyone plays nice over here. I would hate to see more bad stuff go out toward Golden for no good reason. For the record, if you have a Spyderco balisong or automatic knife and bought it in violation of the law I encourage you to dispose of it properly. Now, as Johnny Storm would say “Flame On” for I am sure to be blasted for this one.
    Last edited by KaliGman; 05-06-2008 at 02:35 PM.
    "There is no weapon more deadly than the will." Bruce Lee

    "The most pervasive and least condemned form of dishonesty is not doing the best you can." Colonel Jeff Cooper

  2. #2
    Spyderco Forum Registered User raven's Avatar
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    Hey KaliGman, I Totally Agree With What You've Stated.

    My Fellow Spydie Family and Forumites, What you need to understand here, is that KaliGman is doing nothing more than sticking up for Our Beloved Spyderco and Trying To Keep You All Out Of Trouble . It's hard to understand where We're Coming From, From The Law Enforcement Point Of View ... We All Also Have Our Opinions, and It's A Free Country and We Know Many Will Voice Those Opinions. KaliGman is speaking From A Federal Law Enforcement Point Of View and Probably Knows More Than Most Here regarding the Law. It takes but only a few Strategic Phone Calls and Investigation, before you know it Spyderco is taking a MAJOR Hit In The Knife Industry and Their Reputation Is In The Crapper!!! Along with that, some may get dragged into an Investigation and Possibly Charged, Attorney Fees, Bad Feelings. All I know Is It Can Get Really Bad and Just Go Down Hill in A Heart Beat.

    All I ask ... PLEASE GIVE IT SOME THOUGHT BEFORE SAYING OR DOING ANYTHING. THANKS FOR LISTENING. Take Good Care All and Be Safe Always.

    God Bless


    -raven-
    Last edited by raven; 05-06-2008 at 10:11 PM.
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  3. #3
    Spyderco Forum Registered User tonydahose's Avatar
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    i have no problem with the post...spyderco needs to cover their butt. Like Rodney Dangerfield said "Watchout for number 1 and don't step in number 2" . I figure getting to own one legally is one of the perks to putting your life on the line. My only question is the fire/rescue clearly exempt from the law like police and military...it seems like that is the grey area.
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User butch's Avatar
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    dang and this all had to wait till i got out the corp
    i i want a smallfly to play with ("play" cause i have many more useful spyders to carry)
    its a shame that even after i get my carry permit for a pistol still couldn't have a fly

    o well what can you do right
    Lloyd R Harner III (Butch)
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  5. #5
    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    Thanks for the great explanation, KaliGMan. I own neither automatics nor balisongs and have often wondered about the regulations. It seems pretty cut & dry to me after your post.

    It is a shame, though, that we continue to elect governments that do nothing but erode our liberties in the name of safety. Maybe some day we can win back our freedoms and be able to own these fine bladed pieces of art.

  6. #6
    Spyderco Forum Registered User amen74's Avatar
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    KaliGman. You are actually doing us all a favor by posting this. If anyone does not understand that Spyderco and Co are just covering their butts, well I don't know what to say about that.

    This post was very informative and was the right thing do to. I read it twice.
    Aaron

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    NEXT: Rock Lobster, Manix2, TiMil

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User DrBlade's Avatar
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    Is it better not understood... for who?

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaliGman View Post
    (2) by operation of inertia, gravity, or both.
    .
    This would include most of the Spyderco line-up and many other folding knives .

  9. #9
    Spyderco Forum Registered User RJNC's Avatar
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    Butch had a funny point, you can carry a concealed pistol in the U.S., but not a balisong or auto if you're an ordinary citizen. You should be able to obtain a license for auto knives like pistols.

  10. #10
    Spyderco Forum Registered User Knife Crazied's Avatar
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    Does a correctional officer fall in the ALLOWED group??

  11. #11
    Spyderco Forum Registered User FreeRider67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knife Crazied View Post
    Does a correctional officer fall in the ALLOWED group??
    yes!!!!! and so do EMS and Fire Fighters.

    I just wouldn't take it into resticted areas. you may find out what it was intended for.

    you know... that Law of Unintended Consequence

  12. #12
    Spyderco Forum Registered User The Deacon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeRider67 View Post
    yes!!!!! and so do EMS and Fire Fighters.
    I'd say that may (or may not) be true at the Federal level. However, I'm disinclined to think it would be true in all states at the State level. It would depend on how the exemptions in the State law were worded combined with the status of Corrections Officers in that state. Here in New York, for example, there is even some question as to whether Police Officer's are legally entitled to purchase automatics as individuals.

    That said, out of "professional courtesy", if nothing else, the chances of a Police Officer actually arresting another cop, or a CO, Fireman, or EMS worker on a weapons charge unless said person had been caught on camera doing something outrageously stupid with one, is pretty remote.
    Paul
    My Personal Website ---- Beginners Guide to Spyderco Collecting ---- Kiwimania ---- Spydiewiki
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User thibaud.1.80's Avatar
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    Hey!!!!

    I think at the brand Benchmade....
    Lot of auto , balisong and others....
    And no problem to buy...By anyone... Why ???
    Sorry for my ignorance of your law... I am French.
    Thank you.

    Tibo.
    Last edited by thibaud.1.80; 07-29-2009 at 07:24 PM.
    Rockkkkk nn rroollllllll !!!!!!!!!

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User FreeRider67's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    many of our laws attempt to prohibit what the criminals may posses. however, in doing so; it prohibits the honest people for possessing the same item. and the criminals do not obey the laws anyway. so the only persons that are truly effected by the laws, are the people the laws are meant to protect.

    I hope this answers your question and provides you some insight to a portion of our legal system.

    George

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    Spyderco Forum Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeRider67 View Post
    many of our laws attempt to prohibit what the criminals may posses. however, in doing so; it prohibits the honest people for possessing the same item. and the criminals do not obey the laws anyway. so the only persons that are truly effected by the laws, are the people the laws are meant to protect.

    I hope this answers your question and provides you some insight to a portion of our legal system.

    George
    That applies to a lot of things. A small percentage of people misuse something and other people, who don't use the item in question, decide to outlaw the knife, gun, motorcycle, etc. Funny that nobody ever tries to outlaw cars to prevent all the car-related deaths each year.

  16. #16
    Spyderco Forum Registered User thibaud.1.80's Avatar
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    O.K...
    Thank you....
    Strange......

    Tibo.(France).
    Rockkkkk nn rroollllllll !!!!!!!!!

  17. #17
    Spyderco Forum Registered User The Deacon's Avatar
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    Another explanation. Unlike many other countries, laws made by the US government are not always interpreted the same way throughout the country, unless there has been a specific ruling by our Supreme Court. Our federal court system is divided into 11 geographic regions, called Circuits. Each Circuit can, and sometimes does, interpret a given law differently.

    In the case of automatics and balisongs, the 10th Circuit, where Spyderco is located, has interpreted the law more strictly, and many feel inaccurately, when compared with other Circuits. That means their balisongs are subject to rules no other maker's balisongs are, since no other makers are located in the jurisdiction of the 10th Circuit.

    It also means Spyderco must make more effort to insure their dealers comply with the laws governing automatics than any other manufacturer must. According to Federal law, the only state where persons other than LEOs and the military can purchase any make of automatic legally is in the state where that maker is located. In reality, most manufacturers do not enforce compliance by their dealers and so, in states where state law allows private citizens to own autos, you can buy pretty much any brand.

    The good news for you is that the law here doesn't govern overseas sales, so if autos are legal in France, you should be able to buy a Spyderco auto.
    Paul
    My Personal Website ---- Beginners Guide to Spyderco Collecting ---- Kiwimania ---- Spydiewiki
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  18. #18
    Spyderco Forum Registered User thibaud.1.80's Avatar
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    O.K Paul ....

    Thank you !!!
    Great explanation.
    Now, i understand.

    Tibo.(France).
    Rockkkkk nn rroollllllll !!!!!!!!!

  19. #19
    Spyderco Forum Registered User SolidState's Avatar
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    So where do trainers stand? Officially they don't seem to be a knife because they are unable to cut or divide things. Can I buy one of those if I am not law enforcement? I don't see why I could not, but laws don't always make sense.

    Also, what if I buy it in Oregon? I was recently at a show here where I saw hundreds of balis. I understand that the court jurisdiction is totally different than Colorado, so is it illegal to sell balis across state lines if the two states allow them? What about if they were produced in Colorado?
    "Nothing is so fatal to the progress of the human mind as to suppose that our views of science are ultimate; that there are no mysteries in nature; that our triumphs are complete, and that there are no new worlds to conquer."
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  20. #20
    Spyderco Forum Registered User The Deacon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolidState View Post
    So where do trainers stand? Officially they don't seem to be a knife because they are unable to cut or divide things. Can I buy one of those if I am not law enforcement? I don't see why I could not, but laws don't always make sense.

    Also, what if I buy it in Oregon? I was recently at a show here where I saw hundreds of balis. I understand that the court jurisdiction is totally different than Colorado, so is it illegal to sell balis across state lines if the two states allow them? What about if they were produced in Colorado?
    Please keep in mind that my understanding may not be correct. That said, as I understand it, if you are outside the jurisdiction of the US 10th Circuit Court and are violating no laws in your own state by purchasing a SmallFly Trainer. You would only have a problem if it needed service. At that point you'd be out of luck, because Spyderco could not legally return it to you or, AFAIK, send you parts for it. The same would be true of live blade Spyderco balisongs.

    That is, of course, unless you're planning on annoying Uncle Sugar enough to encourage him to think up creative ways to screw you.
    Paul
    My Personal Website ---- Beginners Guide to Spyderco Collecting ---- Kiwimania ---- Spydiewiki
    Dead horses beaten, sacred cows tipped, chimeras hunted when time permits.
    WTC # 1458 - 1504 - 1508 - Never Forget, Never Forgive!

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