Switchblades, daggers and other banned knives are no longer illegal in the state of Kansas. A new law that took effect July 1 allows the types of knives to be carried inside most public places, and is one of the most lenient in the country.
The president of the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police said the law puts officers in danger because it legally puts more knives on the streets. Those who support the law say it allows law-abiding citizens another way to protect themselves.
She's a Pistol, LLC owner Rebecca Bieker said more customers are buying knives now that the law passed. Before Kansas passed the more lenient knife law, customers could purchase only certain types of knives.
"This is a traditional folder that has been legal in the state for a long period. It just folds up and opens with the thumb," she explained as she handled one knife.
Under the new law, customers can buy knives with larger blades, as well as switchblades that open quickly and daggers.
"I think it's a great thing. I think everyone from a farmer to someone living in the city has a need for a knife," Bieker said.
Bieker said, besides daily tasks, knives can also be used as a back-up for self defense.
"The truth is criminals will get what they want. It is the law-abiding citizens that need to have the tools available to them legally to protect themselves. It is not going to stop a criminal whether it's legal or not, so why put us in jeopardy?" she said.
President of the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police Sean Wallace said the law could put law enforcement officers in jeopardy.
"We are the first line of defense. We are the ones that are going to encounter those knives, not the lawmakers who passed the law," he said during a phone interview. "Most average citizens don't carry switchblades around. Those who do carry them usually have dubious reasons for carrying them. A switchblade was created as a fighting weapon. It was not created to carve a birdhouse."
Wallace also worries that the appropriate training won't accompany the purchase of these types of weapons.
"We seem to be on this trek in Kansas to make sure everyone has a weapon on them. Not everyone is trained on when and how to use a weapon. Police officers are. Your average citizen isn't. To have that weapon with them, anything can happen," he said.
Wallace said it's too soon to say if the law has had any impact on violence.
The new law does prevent knives inside school districts, jails and juvenile detention facilities.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed the law in April. The House passed the legislation 95-26.
The driving force behind the law was a national group called Knife Rights. Members of the group said the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear bladed instruments, as well as firearms.
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