Recently, Knife Rights, a non-profit 501(c) organization that defends Knife Rights across the United States (similar to the NRA’s defense of Firearms Rights), was instrumental in the drafting and lobbying of House Bill 2548, which would legalize switchblades and provide for knife preemption, similar to the firearms preemption of 18 PA.C.S. 6120. While Representative Michelle Brooks (R-17) is the sponsor, it enjoys bipartisan support. Rep Brooks, in relation to HB 2548, was quoted as stating “when Knife Rights brought to my attention the need to reform Pennsylvania’s knife laws, I was pleased to sponsor this legislation as a way to make things better for the people of Pennsylvania. In a state like Pennsylvania which cherishes its outdoor heritage and to respond to the needs of our many sportsmen and sportswomen, as well as rescue teams, knife law reform just makes good sense.”
HB 2548 would remove from the definition of a prohibited offensive weapon found in 18 PA.C.S. 908(c) the language “dagger, knife, razoror, cutting instrument, the blade of which is exposed in an automatic way by switch, push-button, spring mechanism, or otherwise;” thereby legalizing switchblades. Also, two new sections, 18 PA.C.S. 6190 and 6191, would be added. Section 6190 would be the definition section with Section 6191 being a limitation on the regulation of knives and knife making components.
Unfortunately, in looking at the Bill, it appears that Sections 6190 and 6191 seem to be conflated, as the Bill only lists Section 6190, but then clearly goes into knife preemption language. The preemption language would prevent a municipality (a county, city, borough, incorporated town or township) from regulating the “lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of knives and knife making components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.” This is an extremely important and welcomed Bill. as many municipalities, including Philadelphia, have their own knife regulations; thereby, hindering individuals from being able to cross into other municipalities (or otherwise subjecting them to criminal prosecution) and as a result, limiting commerce. Since it is impossible for any individual to know each and every municipalities restrictions on knife ownership and possession, this would provide for uniform laws and enforcement across the Commonwealth, where the Legislature, and the Legislature alone, could control the legality of knives and their possession.
I think the preemption language needs to be beefed up a bit to include similar language to that found in HB 1523, which would provide a person adversely affected by a contrary action of a municipality with damages and attorney fees. Furthermore, a section, akin to 18 PA.C.S. 6105.1, should be included so that individuals who have been previously convicted under Section 908 can obtain relief.