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October 22, 2009

Pocketknife owners earn a victory

Congress passed the Homeland Security Appropriations Act (H.R. 2892), including the outrageous detainee abuse cover-up provision.

But there is also a bright side. The bill clarified the definition of “switchblade.” As you may recall, Customs was going to arbitrarily redefine the meaning of “switchblade” to include all pocket knives that can be opened with one hand. This could have made “criminals” of many people involved in trades or the outdoors who have used pocketknives all their lives.

The new bill added language to existing law preventing bureaucrats from inventing strange new definitions of “switchblade.”

While we celebrate this victory for knife rights, we also antipicate questions from committed DC Downsizers. Isn’t this provision out of place in a spending bill like the Homeland Security Appropriations Act? Doesn’t this contradict the principles of the Once Subject At A Time Act (OSTA)?

Had the One Subject At A Time Act been in force, the switchblade provision probably would have been worded differently. Nevertheless, the switchblade provision was in reaction to a proposal from an agency, Customs, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security and which is funded by this Act. Unlike the detainee abuse cover-up, the switchblade provision was relevant to the overall subject of this Act. OSTA was written to prevent unrelated bills from getting attached together in one big bill. But the switchblade policy is related to the Deptartment of Homeland Security. It’s relevant. It’s germane.

However, we want to point out that the bureaucratic redefinition of switchblade could not have happened if DownsizeDC.org’s Write the Laws Act was in force.

In any case, we thank DC Downsizers who sent letters in support of pocketknife freedom. And we congratulate pocketknife owners everywhere for this victory.

If you are pleased with this outcome, send Congress a letter urging them to pass the Write the Laws Act. Congratulate them for reigning in Customs by clarifying the definition of “switchblade.” Tell them that all agencies would also be reigned in if Congress passed the Write the Laws Act. You can do so here.

 

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