Officers make a traffic stop, smell marijuana and search defendant's pockets. They find a pocket knife with a retractable blade.
When the blade is folded into the handle, a little knob on it sticks out of the back of the handle. By applying pressure to this knob on the blade, the blade springs open just like a switchblade.
Here is the kicker. The defense is claiming that the knife is not a switchblade at all because 1) the knob you push is actually on the balde itself not on the handle and 2) because the packaging material sold with the knife (bought at WalMart) calims it is an "assisted opening knife" and thus distinguishable from a switchblade.
What does everyone think? Has anyone seen one of these knives?
Unfortunately, the Penal Code specifically states that the button or other device must be "located on the handle." If the button or other device in your case is not "on the handle," then the manufacturer may have successfully skirted the strict requirements of the penal code prohibition.
Virtually every wal-mart, academy, hardware store and other like store sells knives with this feature. They are almost a standard feature of pocket knives today. You rarely see a "modern" pocket knife without this feature.
The definition of "Switchblade knife" under 46.01(11) seems to rule out your knife as a switchblade.
(11) "Switchblade Knife" means any knife that has a blade that folds, closes, or retracts into the handle or sheath, and that"
(A) opens AUTOMATICALLY (emphasis added) by pressure applied to a button or other device located on the handle, or
(B) opens or releases a blade from the handle or sheath by the force of gravity or by the application of centrifugal force.
My opinion is that subsection (B) refers to what is commonly referred to as a "butterfly" knife, or any type knife where gravity or a "flick" of the handle would open the blade.
My Webster's defines centrifugal force as:
"using or acted upon by a force that tends to make rotating bodies move away from the center of rotation".
To me, this doesn't apply to a knife where physical force of a thumb must be used to open the blade. I see no difference between the big old 4" blade Buck pocket knives that every biker and cowboy and mechanic used to carry in a belt sheath and could open one handed with a thumbnail inserted into the blade opening groove.
It would seem that the statute is designed to prohibit knives that open automatically or with some force such as "flicking" the knife to swing the blade out, or in the case of a butterfly knife, flicking one of the two handles out of the way of the blade.
But where do you draw the line? I have seen many knives, like the Buck knives described above, that with sufficient oiling and use will come flying out of the handle with no finger touching the blade. Does that mean that due to wear and tear a normal knife becomes a switchblade?
Almost every police officer I know carries an assisted opening knife.
The knife described sounds like a Kershaw knife or a knockoff of one. This is a type of "assisted opening" knife because the user manually initiates the blade to move out from its sheath by pressing his or her thumb on the little knob on the blade. At a certain point, a spring kicks in and the blade automatically opens fully without any additional pressure by the user. It is not a true switchblade because (a) the knob is not on the handle, and (b) it doesn't really open by merely pressing the knob. Rather the knob is there so that the user can start the opening process. As one poster pointed out, it is a very common and popular knife. Many sportmen own them.
A couple of years ago, we had a cutting edge discussion on the Kershaw knife, here on this very website. The thoughts were sharp and to the point -- until the knife-talk folded and the subject was pocketed until now.
Banjos were never even brought up.
That's well-honed commentary, A.P. Edgy and pointed.
Like my head
A stabbing synopsis on the subject, A.P.
Well, Greg, my money's on you for resolution-keeping. When the Statute is up though, I expect some whittling-away at the brotherhood of the Mastertone.
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