Bill to legalize spring-assisted knives in Michigan passes Senate, sent to Gov. Snyder

Posted at 10:40 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 22:41:39-04

WYOMING, Mich. -- A bill allowing the sale of spring-assisted knives in Michigan is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder's desk. It passed 36-1 in the Senate on Thursday, which would repeal the ban on spring-assisted knives. It's a law some have called outdated and unnecessary.

Currently, law enforcement officers are the only people allowed to purchase and carry any spring-assisted knives, but the lawmakers behind the bill say enforcement of the ban is inconsistent. In some counties, police might let it slide while in others, you could be put in jail for up to a year.

A press release from Senator Rick Jones says the bill applies to "spring-assisted knives", but in interviews with Fox 17, both Senator Jones and sales manager at Silver Bullet Firearms Jeff Kelly say the bill applies to both spring-assisted knives and switchblades.

You've seen them in Hollywood movies: a shiny, dangerous switchblade used in fight scenes like 'West Side Story,' or to intimidate, like in Stephen King's 'It'. Currently, it's illegal to carry or purchase any spring-assisted knife in Michigan, but it's a law that could be changing very soon.

"Michigan is one of the few states that still outlaws switchblades and we're very much in the minority on that," said Jeff Kelly, sales manager at Silver Bullet Firearms in Wyoming. "It's honestly kind of silly."

Kelly says there's very little difference between a spring-assisted knife and some other knives currently legal to purchase.

"The difference is very minute," said Kelly. "For some with a disability or someone who didn't have good hand dexterity it could definitely assist them in opening their knife in a timely manner. To me, it's not a tremendous difference."

Sen. Rick Jones (R) is behind the bill and says the current law is outdated.

"It's not the double-edged stiletto knife like you see in the movies," said Jones. "This is the one-edged utility knife that police officers carry and the National Guard commonly carries. We wanted to make it legal for everybody because they're commonly sold everywhere and we don't want people to be criminalized for buying one."

Jeff Kelly says a switchblade or spring-assisted knife does no more damage than any other utility knife. He says even if they do become legal, he doesn't anticipate many more people buying them.

"To be honest with you, there's not a huge demand for them and not really a gigantic need to have one, at least in my opinion," said Kelly.

Sen. Jones says the bill is backed by Michigan State Police and he anticipates Gov. Snyder signing it into law in the next few weeks.

"There's certainly no reason for giving anyone a year in jail for buying one that's not any more dangerous than any other jackknife," said Jones.

Jones said the bill should be on the governor's desk in the next two to three weeks.