Rick Hinderer started with art knives in the 1980s then transitioned to tactical tools. State law now allows him to manufacture switchblades, spring-assisted and gravity knives.
Ohio Senate Bill 140, a knife law reform bill advocated by the grassroots knife owner organization Knife Rights, took effect Monday and eliminated “the prohibition against manufacturing, possessing for sale, selling, or furnishing certain weapons other than firearms or dangerous ordnance.”
On Tuesday, Hinderer hosted a factory tour at his Shreve-area business Hinderer Knives to celebrate the bill’s passage. Attendees included Knife Rights Founder and Chair Doug Ritter and Director of Legislative Affairs Todd Rathner, state Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and state Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster).
Without the change in the law, Hinderer seriously considered moving his business out of Ohio so he could entertain military contracts for automatic knives. He now projects his business will double overnight, and he can expand his workforce beyond the 18 employees now working for him.
“If the military comes to me before this bill is passed and asks about getting a knife that I produce, I wasn’t going to turn it down. I was just going to move outside of Ohio,” said Hinderer, founder and CEO of Rick Hinderer Knives. “It’s a huge benefit for us and the business. Plain and simple, it’s jobs.”
Like Hinderer, Massillon native Michael Rice feared Ohio's knife regulations would force him to leave the city he grew up in.
Rice, is the inventor, founder and CEO of Gripknife, a vertical foregrip for a firearm that could double as an immediately accessible secondary weapon.
Gripknife attaches to the rail system of an AR-style weapon to be used as a normal foregrip, but with the push of a button, it can deploy into a combat-style knife.
Knife Rights worked for six years to get SB 140 passed in Ohio. The group’s work continues “so people can carry whatever tool they want in their pocket, at work, at home and don’t have to worry about being arrest because of how the tool opens, the length of the blade, or the shape of the blade,” Ritter said.
(Jake Zuckerman. 'Law takes effect legalizing concealed knife carry; also allows for brass knuckles.” Ohio Capital Journal. April 13, 2021.)
Why would I worry about people carrying knives when I grew up in a rural Ohio grade school environment in which seemingly every young man had a pocket knife? I even remember boys routinely playing “mumblety-peg” (aka “mumbley-peg”) on the playground at recess.
Then, there was little
worry about students using knives to settle disputes or to injure
others for whatever reason. Gone are both the morals and the common
sense that prevailed in the 1950s and 1960s. We live in violent days.
Times have changed. Attitudes have changed. And, unfortunately, recent political and social divisions and resulting fears have driven state legislators to pass laws that make brandishing weapons perfectly legal. I worry that these new laws will endanger all – young and old – and present angry young men easy access to overwhelming force and concealed weapons made to kill.
For once, I agree with gun advocates who say that if a person intends to harm another, a knife or a club could be an instrument as deadly as a firearm. This fact did not stop Ohio's Republican lawmakers from passing Senate bills and preventing legislation on the local level that would limit this newfound right to carry automatic, combat-style knives.
After previously approving legislation (2021) that allows Ohioans to carry an array of different knives and weapons on their persons – including butterfly knives, switchblades, springblades, brass knuckles, and billy clubs – Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation Tuesday that preemptively blocks cities from intervening.
Now, Senate Bill 156, which passed on party lines with Republicans in support and Democrats in opposition, prohibits cities from passing laws blocking citizens from carrying knives.
In Ohio, Democrats wield political control of the urban centers, while Republicans control the statehouse and governor’s office. Thus, the legislation preemptively blocks the Democratic cities from enacting any ordinance of their own that might restrict the right to carry knives beyond what statehouse Republicans call for.
A similar pre-emption blocks cities from establishing gun laws stricter than those at the state level. That law has withstood repeated legal challenges since it was passed in 2007.
The knife pre-emption joins a growing list of state legislation expanding the right to carry weapons in Ohio including:
2022: Knife pre-emption
2022: Authorizing school boards to allow teachers to carry guns
2022: Remove training, background check and licensure requirement to carry concealed firearm
2021: Allowing for concealed carry of knives
2021: Removing the legal duty to retreat before responding to a perceived attack with deadly force, often known as “stand your ground.”
(Jake Zuckerman. “DeWine signs legislation buttressing knife carrying expansion.” https://ohiocapitaljournal.com/2022/06/17/dewine-signs-legislation-buttressing-knife-carrying-expansion/. Capital Journal. June 17, 2022.)
And, perhaps most alarming, this new law about concealed knives comes after April 2021, when “stand your ground” law took effect in Ohio, which removes the legal requirement that a person reasonably try to retreat from a perceived attack before responding with deadly force. Such legislation has been associated with modest increases in violent crime and disparate treatment in the criminal justice system on racial lines, public health research shows.
(Staff. “Ohio's new 'stand your ground' law: Everything you need to know.” WLWT 5. April 22, 2021.)
The measure expanded the so-called “stand your ground” right from an individual’s house and car to any place, “if that person is in a place in which the person lawfully has a right to be.” Enter knives into the equation.
The new law can be explained like this: In the past, if someone shot in self-defense, the burden was on the shooter to prove that's why they did it. With a "stand your ground" law, the burden shifts to the prosecutor to prove the shooting was not justified.
In addition to making prosecutors prove a claim of self-defense may not be justified, the measure would also eliminate the call for gun owners with concealed carry permits to try to retreat from a threat before opening fire.
The Republican governor signed the bill despite his long expressed concerns that GOP lawmakers were ignoring his own legislation proposed following the 2019 mass shooting in Dayton.
Ethan Nichols, executive director of Ohio Students for Gun Legislation, sees the recent “stand your ground” law like this …
"This isn't a Second Amendment issue. I support the Second Amendment. But this has nothing to do with that. Your ability to shoot someone without just, you know – randomly shoot someone because you feel threatened, it's ridiculous."
Nichols worries the new law will exact a heavy toll on minority communities.
"It's a racist law," Nichols said. "I think for Ohioans that this is a, very obviously, a step in the wrong direction. This is a step backwards into another century."
(Staff. “Ohio's 'stand your ground' law goes into effect Tuesday. What to know.” https://www.wlwt.com/article/ohio-s-stand-your-ground-law-goes-into-effect-tuesday-what-to-know/36026492. WLWT 5. April 05, 2021.)
Knives of all kinds protected throughout Ohio? Are blade laws simply about creating economic opportunities for manufacturing tactical and automatic knives, or are they about something more? The laws are clearly a Second Amendment bills that dovetails into recent acts passed in the Buckeye State to loosen restrictions on carrying deadly weapons. It's the old need for a “bigger gun” argument now widened to include “bigger knives.” In reality, no kid is going to employ one of these weapons to whittle or to assist him with outdoor skills. These blades are designed to kill.
Art knives? Don't kid yourself. GOP legislators are fighting a culture war, and part of this struggle involves their alarm that the “untouchable” Second Amendment may soon be reformed. They wrap their fight in Jingoism – belligerent patriotism – and in religion to sell their message of threatened freedoms to anyone who needs a convenient scapegoat. Passing “stand your ground” laws and “conceal and carry” acts is part of their thin veneer of toughness. Sexy weapons with maximum bling appeal are the products at hand.
SB 140 addresses the often abusive and discriminatory application of the existing Ohio weapons law against knife carriers, clarifying that unless the knife/edged tool is actually used as a weapon, it is legal to be carried. Supporters of the bill will tell you about the need to seek uniform regulation in the state.
However, tactical knives are sold with advertisements that call them “a must-have accessory to carry as they are tough, reliable and easy to use, not to mention they can save your day when doom strikes.” It is obvious that such instruments are intended to be used as weapons.
For example, on their website, Tekto knives are marketed as such …
“Here at Tekto, we take great pleasure in staying up to date with the latest law and regulations to make sure we all play by the rules. By doing so, you can choose the best suitable knife without having to worry about the legality of it.”
And then, this caveat …
“Tekto Gear is not, and cannot be, a legal service provider. Use of the site does not create a lawyer/client relationship. Laws are interpreted differently by enforcement officers, prosecuting attorneys, and judges. Tekto Gear suggests that you consult legal counsel for guidance.”
(Dan D. “Ohio Laws: Facts You Must Learn. https://www.tektogear.com/blogs/news/ohio-knife-laws-updated-2020-facts-you-must-learn-or-risk-prosecution. March 31, 2020.)
W. Byrne of The Coolist writes …
“Manufacturers have done an excellent job of finding ways of making modern switchblades that slip through the loopholes in the laws, but even so, you can find yourself in a mess of legal trouble if you are caught carrying, buying, selling, importing, handling, or looking too closely at an automatic knife. Though, if you’re like us, you just can’t help yourself, no matter what Washington’s fat bastards have to say.”
(M. W. Byrne. “The 14 Best Automatic Knives (2022 Edition): Tomorrow’s Switchblades.” https://www.thecoolist.com/best-automatic-knives/. The Coolist. 2022 Edition.)
“This is a very special XM-18 3in done in the Battlefield Pickup theme. All parts of the knife as well as the knife build itself was done exclusively by me. The walnut handle is done in a entirely new way to further enhance its “worn” look. All parts of the knife have been hand worked by me to give it a very unique BPU look and feel! Also this particular knife is serialized for both the Vintage series as well as the BPU. VERY unique and rare! Of course my build card is included!”