Knife Rights Sues to Overturn Federal Switchblade Act Under the Supreme Court’s Bruen Decision

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From Knife Rights . . .

Knife Rights has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of portions of the Federal Switchblade Act, originally enacted in 1958, that restricts the introduction into interstate commerce of common automatically opening (“switchblade”) knives. It also challenges the ban on their possession on Native American reservations and in U.S. territories. The definition of a “switchblade knife” includes gravity knives and butterfly knives.

Joining Knife Rights in the case are members Russell Arnold and Jeffery Folloder and retailer members RGA Auction Services d.b.a. Firearm Solutions and MOD Specialties. They are represented by attorneys John W. Dillon at the Dillon Law Group and R. Brent Cooper at Cooper & Scully.

Named as defendants are Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the United States, and the United States Department of Justice. The lawsuit, Knife Rights, Inc. v. Garland, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Click here to read the complaint.

In its complaint, the plaintiffs allege that the Federal government’s restrictions and bans are unconstitutional and said that “there can be no question that knives are “arms” protected under the plain text of the Second Amendment.…And indeed, the Supreme Court made clear in [NYSRPA v. Bruen] that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect the right to acquire, possess, and carry arms for self-defense and all other lawful purposes.”

Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter said, “Under Supreme Court precedent, the Federal Switchblade Act cannot pass muster and must be enjoined. The Federal government has no right to restrict interstate commerce in commonly possessed automatically opening knives of any type, or to ban their possession. The interstate trade in automatically opening knives is essential to the right to acquire these common arms. After 65 years it is time to end this anachronism that was deceitfully enacted and which remains an insult to common sense.”

Since 2010, Knife Rights has led the charge to restore the right to keep and bear knives in 28 states, including repealing bans on civilian automatic (switchblade) knives in 16 states.

In its 2022 NYSRPA v. Bruen decision, the Supreme Court emphasized that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” In 2021, Knife Rights filed an important amicus (friend of the court) brief to the Supreme Court that was cited in the Bruen decision.

Attorney John Dillon said, “The Federal Switchblade Act has always been constitutionally questionable. After Bruen, there is no doubt this Act has been violating the Second Amendment rights of Americans for decades. Forty five states currently allow automatically opening knives to one degree or another, 36 with no restrictions whatsoever on possession. They are unquestionably common and therefore cannot be banned, either in interstate commerce or on Native American Reservations and U.S. territories. It is past time to free the switchblades.”

Federal Switchblade Act Background

In 1950, a sensationalist article by a known hack journalist titled The Toy That Kills appeared in the Women’s Home Companion, a widely read U.S. periodical. The article sparked a storm of controversy. It ultimately led to a nationwide campaign by political opportunists of the day that would eventually result in a number of state laws restricting switchblade possession or carry and in the Federal Switchblade Act. You can read that article at:

By the mid-1950s Hollywood’s fixation on the myth of the switchblade as the symbol of youth violence, sex, and delinquency resulted in demands from the public and Congress to control the sale and possession of such knives. State laws restricting or criminalizing switchblade possession and carry, of varying severity, were adopted by 24 states (16 of which have been repealed by Knife rights’ efforts since 2010). Only 14 of these states enacted full bans on switchblade knives, of which only 5 remain in force. In 1958 Congress passed the Federal Switchblade Act.

A more detailed history of switchblades and legislation against them can be found at:

NYSRPA v. Bruen Background

Broadly, in NYSRPA v. Bruen the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment includes the right to be armed for self-defense at home and in public. This right can only be limited to the extent that there is a historical tradition of limitation in the period immediately prior to and around the time of the Constitution’s framing in the late 18th century up to the late 19th century. A few restrictions on knives of various sorts that are outliers from that time period do not count. Restrictions imposed later, including on switchblades in the 1950s, including the Federal Switchblade Act, don’t count. Acquisition, possession and carry of knives survives this constitutional test.

NYSRPA v. Bruen upheld restrictions on weapons such as machine guns that are deemed by the court to be both “dangerous and unusual.” A weapon that is either not “dangerous” or not “unusual” cannot be prohibited. Automatically opening (“switchblade”) knives and other knife designs and opening mechanisms are neither “unusual,” being legal and common in most places today, nor any more “dangerous” than other non-prohibited knives or weapons. Knife bans existent today do not pass constitutional muster after Bruen.

NYSRPA v. Bruen also emphasized emphatically from the court’s prior Second Amendment McDonald decision that “the constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” Second Amendment decisions by courts must be made on the basis of strict scrutiny, just as with other rights. Intermediate scrutiny or “interest balancing” can no longer be used to decide Second Amendment cases. As such, the government can no longer defend knife bans, for whatever irrational basis it comes up with.

Knife Rights is America’s grassroots knife owners’ organization; leading the fight to Rewrite Knife Law in America™ and forging a Sharper Future for all Americans™. Knife Rights efforts have resulted in 44 bills enacted repealing knife bans in 28 states and over 175 cities and towns since 2010.


Please support this Knife Rights’ lawsuit with a tax-deductible donation to the Knife Rights Foundation at: (select Knife Rights Foundation)

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  1. Of course. A Switchblade knife just allows the holder to open the blade automatically. No issue here!

    How many kitchen knives do you own and they all have the blade automatically exposed!

    Reality check.

    Also, folks need to be able to carry their knives and nail clippers and tweezers on a plane in their carry on! They are not fully automatic machine guns, just common, every day tools that all of us use day to day. Terrorists use violent weapons, not a pocket knife!

    • a ban on switchblades doesn’t make much sense in the age of the Glock switch….

    • is there anything more beautiful…in an elegantly sinister way….than a classic Italian stiletto?

      • ….they even named a plane after it…it’s sitting in a hangar in Dayton right now….beautiful, exotic aircraft….

        • I like the twin Mustang they have out there…

        • the x3. Nice now that the x planes and presidential are at the museum instead of over on the base.
          About a 3 hour drive for us and we have relatives about 20 miles from there. Usually hit it once a year with whichever grandkids we can borrow

      • A knife that actually is substantial enough to work as a close combat tool (vs a toy for peeling an apple)?

    • I am making effectively tirelessly $15k to $20k basically by doing coordinate work at domestic. Multi month once more i have made $45890 from this development. astounding and smooth to do work and standard pay from this can be stupefying. i have propose each last one of you to connect this advance right specifically as moo security and get than full time compensation through take after this affiliation.
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  2. Another Act of Control that sidesteps criminals and steps on the rights of law abiding citizens…Knife Control like Gun Control needs to go.

  3. These are assault knives. No one needs a machine knife. You push the trigger button and a continuous blade is produced. I shutter to think what would happen if these were allowed. God help us!

    • guess you never heard of the “the knife that shoots”…that one would really blow your mind!

  4. Could they force buyers to pass a background check and submit to a 3-day wait to own and carry one?

    • Actually, in Florida, you have to have a carry permit to legally carry a switchblade…

  5. From the magazine article ‘Toys that Kill’ :

    “Police officials, judges, teachers and social workers all over the country are disturbed about the increasing number of juvenile accidents in which switchblades figure. Now these authorities are not alarmists or bluenoses. They don’t want to deny boys their pocket- knives. They know that a knife to a growing boy is as important as a lipstick to a young lady.

    But they also know that a switchblade, which is fast replacing the old-fashioned pocketknife, is another story. Its chief purpose—as any crook can tell you—is for committing violence.”

    • Given the time frame, I’ll bet you that if I really look into this I’ll find Ed Bernays’ fingerprints all over it.

      • Interesting at the time they had no problem with standard folding pocket knives in minor child’s pockets…

        There’s a gun show tomorrow in Tampa, I might have to pick me up an OTF switchblade.

        Any recommendations, ones to stay far away from?

        • I’ve found Beast Blade (dunno how widespread they are) has good function and a wicked spring and always includes a glass break but a pretty cheap blade on their OTFs. Just doesn’t hold an edge very well at all.

          The ones I’d expect you to just find at a show that’s not specifically a knife show and that are major companies would be… MicroTech, Kershaw, Boker, Schrade, HK, S&W, SOG and Benchmade.

          They’re all *decent* depending on your standards and mostly what you’d probably expect based on their reputation. The only one I’d say might be questionable is the S&W… but I might be jaded on them like I am about revolvers.

          Dunno what you care to spend, so…

          MicroTech and Benchmade will be the higher price point, expect $300 or more.

          There’s some float in the higher half of the price range with HK, SOG and Boker. They’re all good. I’d expect them to run between $100 and $500 depending.

          S&W and Schrade would be the lower end of the price range, like <$100 and probably <$50 in a lot of cases. I'd go with Schrade over S&W, personally, but that's because S&W's knives have mostly sucked in my experience overall but, to be fair, I haven't tried their OTFs because I stopped buying their knives.

          Kershaw will run the gamut on price I would think, like they do with everything else but they don't have very many OTFs, maybe even only one.

          I'm sure there are a ton of others that I'm unaware of since OTFs have become legal in a number of states they previously were not legal in. Caveat emptor in that case.

          You can always do some research on OTFs on like knifecenter or bladeHQ in terms of reading the reviews (Never trust stars on those sites, soooo many people review something two days after they got it and haven't really used it. Read a few high and low end reviews.) so that you have some idea of brand quality and what specifically to stay away from if you see it.

          I know knifecenter has a specific OTF section, dunno about BladeHQ, haven't been there in a while.

        • I like the microtechs. But, I would be very hesitant to buy one at a show as it would probably knock off (although I ordered one on a lark and it was about 99% as good as the original).

        • Thanks for the knockoff warning, that’s always an unpleasant surprise. 🙁

          I think I’ll stick to authorized shops…

    • believe that article said “you have to have a permit to carry a pistol”….how naive can you be?

      • A ‘gun permit’ back then was code for “not being Black”.

        Literal ‘Jim Crow’ laws…

    • these restrictions apply to another time..another age…when juvenile delinquency was our major (and only)..concern….seems silly and antiquated these days…except when it comes to black youth who’ve upped the ante significantly…..

  6. Right wing politics was really just housewife outrage before trump came along, wasn’t it?

  7. “In 1950, a sensationalist article by a known hack journalist titled The Toy That Kills appeared in the Women’s Home Companion…

    What a fascinating choice of place to publish given the timeframe that it was done.

    Gosh, I wonder why that happened. /s

  8. Between District of Columbia v. Heller and Caetano v. Massachusetts, no honest court can uphold a knife ban. It’ll be good to see Merrick Garland get benchslapped.

  9. California (no surprise here) Penal Code § 21510 PC prohibits a person from carrying, possessing in public, selling or giving away a switchblade.

    P.C. § 17235 defines a switchblade as a pocketknife with a blade of 2 or more inches that can be released by a flick of a button, pressure on the handle, a flip of the wrist, or another mechanical device.

    Mere possession of a switchblade is legal (similar to 10+ rd mags), but Sacramento has declared from On High that they must never see the light of day and must remain yours (no transfer) and in private only.

    Interesting to note, however, that the law here doesn’t specify a prohibition on bringing/importing them into the state, unlike the prohibition on 10+ rd mags.

    • *snicker*

      I’m waiting for the spork equality movement. It’s the “trans” of utensils.

      Fucking perverts if you ask me.

      • “I’m waiting for the spork equality movement. It’s the “trans” of utensils. ”

        Wow. I forgot all about sporks.

        Probably because they don’t have a flag.

        • Yet™

          They don’t have a flat Yet™. Let CEI and such run a few more cycles. Equality will be had. Or else.

        • Equity, not equality.

          Spork *Equity*. That has highly loaded implications.

          The words are *not* the same…

        • No, Geoff. [Critical] Equality. It’s a precondition for [Critical] Equity.

          This is what CEI and MEI are all about, they’re part of the matrix to get your DEI score so that you can get your ESGbux.

          You’re playing word games against people with PhD’s in English or Sociology with a minor in English. Bring your A game.

          I gave the broad strokes of MEI and CEI here:

        • You weren’t kidding on the critical crap :

          CriticalEquity (dot)com

          “Organizational Justice Model · Rebuild with Equity in Mind · Develop a Culture of Inclusion · Draw Strength from Differences.”

          *Shudder* 🙁

        • Yeah, now realize that they control several hundred trillion dollars in investment capital worldwide which they’re using to gain entry to cities, states, counties and major corporations.

          Then realize that in Europe ALL retirement management must meet ESG requirements and that Euro capital is starting to flow to the US but must still follow EU regs for ESG…

          Interesting, huh? It’s almost like they’ve kinda thought about this in advance.

          Starting to see why I say you’re not winning? Why I use words like “myopic” all the time? Why I ask about international shipping’s relationship to your 2A rights?

          You think the courts will protect you from this? Nah, son. At best, even when inclined to your position, they’re 35 years behind. You let this keep running the way it is now and they’ll steamroll you right into a civil war, turn the entire country into an open air gulag or start up the death squads. IRL, you’ll get a mix of #2 and #3.

          Maybe, just maybe, this is why I don’t waste my time with our local trolls. They’re, at best, a distraction from a much larger game that’s running in the background. And if you let them win by ignoring it, you won’t be breathing much longer.

          I’d suggest that you familiarize yourself with the real and intimate history of “kulaks” and “wreckers” because that’s what you are. That’s not a bad thing. Embrace it. (You don’t really have much of a choice, to be honest.)

          But it’s not all bad. Every move comes with a time frame of vulnerability where what you’re doing is out in the open and can be countered. That time is now. If you’re smart, you’ll be the one burying your adversaries. Hopefully metaphorically but the alternative is also acceptable.

          Do you know why commies love to use food as a weapon? It’s not just because it’s relatively easy to gum up the works of food production that actually takes effort and brains.

          It’s also because it contributes to demoralization via a truly evil version of the “decision dilemma” Alinsky loved so much. See, if you comply with the rules, you starve to death. If you don’t, your own body betrays you to your enemies. The mindfuck is half the reason they prefer this kind of methodology. Because it tortures their adversaries to death en masse.

          Nice people, huh?

        • “Nice people, huh?”

          More than a bit concerning.

          So, what concrete strategies do you recommend for dealing with this?

          As is, this is heading right into a new dark ages… 🙁

        • For ESG or the dark ages?

          The latter is easy, bring a light. The former requires an explanation of the basics of how ESG actually works. The answer here would be, ultimately, in finding some smart lawyers because the games ESG plays run smack-dab into “fiduciary duty” at some point.

          That may already be in the works in terms of AB InBev and Target.

          Outside that, at this point, you need to make people aware of what it is so that folks like your governor can stop virtue signalling on the topic and actually use the bully pulpit to beat your legislature into some serious action. (Your governor’s anti-ESG stuff means fuck all. Florida’s State pension system is many times larger and is still with companies using ESG scores.)

          Realistically, in the short term that’s going to be the biggest bang for your buck. Getting Red States to move their pension systems by banning investment in companies that use ESG. Take what the EU did and reverse it.

          That will start to get attention. Fast. Most of the people involved in the financial side of this are not ideological about it, they’re making money off the ideologues.

  10. nice to know I can finally get my collection out of hiding and show them off a bit!……

  11. @strych9
    “They don’t have a flat Yet™.”

    When they do, I will expect Spoons to have equity.

    • They demand equity, not equality.

      BIG difference, and don’t you forget it… 🙁

  12. @Geoff
    “Spork *Equity*. That has highly loaded implications. The words are *not* the same…”

    Just so. Sporks should have the same outcome as knives, regardless of the difference in capability of the two. Both are eating utensils (tableware)

  13. @strych9
    “No, Geoff. You’re playing word games against people with PhD’s…”

    I think Geoff is just playing along with the Spork gag.

    • “I think Geoff is just playing along with the Spork gag.”

      I was, but… 🙁

    • Not to be overly severe here like some sort of killjoy teacher, but the difference between Critical Equity and Critical Equality is not a joke. It’s, quite literally, deadly serious. A third to half the country dead sort of serious.

      I’m not trying to be a dick here. I like jokes the same as the next person, hence why I brought up sporks being perverts but those terms are not jokes. At all.

      The Right leaning folks in this country do not recognize the danger they are in and most of the normies are totally asleep too. They’ve been lulled, by design, into a false sense of security mixed with a bunch of confusing fringy shit that obscures the hostiles designs against them.

      The Left read their Sun Tzu. While you were “working” they were working to take everything you have and maybe even kill you just for funzies. That’s not an exaggeration. They’ve been doing this, quite diligently, across a host of fronts for longer than anyone here has been alive. They’ve used entryism alternatively to take over organizations and discredit others that they thought posed a threat to them.

      Like it or not, believe it or not, you’re losing your country. You’re getting your ass kicked so badly you should be embarrassed yet you laugh about basically meaningless court victories because you’re playing a game from 50 years ago and thinking you’re on the cutting edge.

      Look how many people here honestly thought Alec Baldwin would even see court. What did I tell you from day fucking one? How’d I know that?

      • “the difference between Critical Equity and Critical Equality is not a joke.”

        Consider it foxhole humor.

        On the whole I agree with you. As noted earlier, some of we boomers saw this coming in the mid ’60s. Traditionalists did not believe us then, nor were they energized in the decades of wealth building since.

        In the meantime, we attended anti-communist lectures, and contributed money and time to those traditionalists who were affiliated with our observations and thinking. In polite societies, we were called “reactionaries” (when you hear that word, you know you are dealing with communists), John Birchers, fascists, and a menu of other slanders. We knew the best we could do was delay the inevitable. Santa Clause would eventually run the world.

  14. Some localities have even more restrictive regulations leftover from the 1950s-60s.

    For example, in the unincorporated areas of Clark County, Nevada, such as the Las Vegas Strip, you can’t even carry in your pocket a folding Swiss Army knife with a 3-inch blade, even with a CCW permit and a concealed pistol, UNLESS you have personal permission from the sheriff, not the police/sheriff’s department, but a letter from the Sheriff himself (and you better have a copy of the letter on you). There is not a form or application for this permission. Instead you mail a letter to the sheriff, making your case, and ask for a letter of permission.

    Clark County, Nevada – Code of Ordanances
    12.04.180 – Concealed weapons prohibited without permit.
    It is unlawful, within the unincorporated area of Clark County, for any person to carry upon his person a concealed weapon, not permitted in accordance with state law, of any description, including a knife with a blade of three inches or more, capable of being concealed, without first having received written permission therefor from the sheriff.
    (Ord. 242 § 18, 1965)
    (Ord. No. 4332, § 7, 10-12-2015)

  15. “Yeah, now realize that they control several hundred trillion dollars in investment capital worldwide which they’re using to gain entry to cities, states, counties and major corporations.”

    Talking to the old ones. We understood what would happen, without a revolt, politically, against the take over of institutions by what we called “communists” (“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”).

  16. Knives are considered to be weapons/arms. As are swords, axes, spears, bows, and cannon.
    Some arms are also considered to be common tools. Many tools such as bill hook/pruning hook, threshing flail, axe or hatchet, or even the lowly masons or blacksmiths hammer could be considered a weapon.
    At present a Bowie Knife is considered a prohibited weapon here in Alabama. While it is more or less legal to wear a sword. Funny thing is I can carry my GI K-Bar but can’t carry a Bowie of the same size.
    I’ve often said on here a firearm is a tool. And as a chef I made my living using knives as tools of my trade. Many of the tools I use out here on the homestead could be very dangerous if used in a fight.
    A switchblade is no more dangerous than the liner lock with the thumbstud for single hand opening I carry every day. Of course a switchblade was popular amongst street thugs at one time.
    Honestly, a knife of any type, just as a firearm of any type, is a tool and only as dangerous as the hand, mind and intent of the person holding it.

    • The prohibition against switchblades was not predicated on its usefulness as a weapon peer se, but upon the idea that a visible knife can be countered, or fled from; switchblades were concealed in the hand, until the attacker was right up against the victim, then used to quickly dispatch the victim before he/she could defend or flee.

  17. I have never been able to comprehend any limitation imposed by any local, state or federal authority over knives of any type. We live in a nation that has a constitutional right to bear arms that protects each individual’s ability, their *right*, to own and use the tools and means necessary to self-defense – including GUNS. In *that* nation, where we all can, with varying degrees of regulation, possess guns, how can there be even a moment of attention paid to whether or not we can possess certain kinds of knives? It is as if we lived in a world where someone said we are permitted to have fire but we may not possess matches.

  18. ….they even named a plane after it…it’s sitting in a hangar in Dayton right now….beautiful, exotic aircraft….

  19. I’ve never known a Native American that spoke with an eyetalian accent.
    Yoh , “He Who Shoves Treaties Up White Mans Ass”, houss yah doing? Yah fckin goombah guinny. Here. Have a switchblade, hous yah like me now?

  20. I had no idea this was a federal reg. How is then that I am able to order automatic opening knives online? And Texas law was changed 5 or 6 years ago to allow carry of auto knives. Who enforces this law, the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and knives?

    • Cops enforce the law when you get caught with one in a state that will not let you have one.
      And as the cop told my cousin, ” Just because you can buy it through the mail doesn’t make it legal. ” my cousin told the cop it was not a switchblade but a novelty letter opener.
      Moral of the story: Anything is legal as long as you dont get caught.

  21. “So, what concrete strategies do you recommend for dealing with this?”

    Strategy? Resist as long as possible.

    Tactics? Support pro 2A movements as finances allow. Vote for advertised pro-2A candidates. Help keep the LGS in business through purchases and attending training classes. Pay for ongoing firearms training. While moral victories are actually losses, legally resist, even futilely. Be gray man.

  22. “The answer here would be, ultimately, in finding some smart lawyers because the games ESG plays run smack-dab into “fiduciary duty” at some point.”

    Not a lawyer.

    Seems ESG runs up against “fiduciary duty” at the moment ESG is discussed at all. Do governors have any “fiduciary duty” when a state is determining which investment company will manage pension money? Does the federal govt have any “fiduciary duty” when making the same evaluation for those pension funds?

    The proof of failing to exercise “fiduciary duty” is visible for all to see, yet we see zero attempts to sue for failure. Thinking that ultimately, “fiduciary duty” will be expanded to include the responsibility to ensure pension funds are managed to “protect the earth”; essentially the duty to ensure both human clients and the earth are to benefit from pension investment services.

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