Cities, counties and other governmental entities would be forbidden from restricting people’s use of knives under a bill winding its way through the legislative process.
The bill, S1153, would give the state sole power to impose regulation on knives. It was approved March 16 by the House Government Committee.
“We believe that knives are essential tools, tools that are used daily by millions of honest Americans,” said Doug Ritter, chairman of Knife Rights, an advocacy group that is pushing the bill.
The legislation is modeled after a current Arizona law that gives the state exclusive authority over firearms regulation, preventing counties and cities from enacting ordinances dealing with guns.
Sen. Chuck Gray, a Mesa Republican and the bill’s sponsor, said the goal was to keep things the way they are now, with only a few cities that have restricted knife possession by ordinances. Otherwise, he said, the state could have a patchwork set of regulations.
“This bill is what I would call a status quo bill,” he said.
Ritter’s group is using Arizona as a launching pad for a national knife-law-preemption campaign.
“It’s a matter of fairness, a matter of civil rights,” he said.
Current state laws restricting deadly weapons in places like public buildings and secure areas of airports would not be affected by S1153.
Rep. Tom Chabin, a Flagstaff Democrat and former member of the Coconino Board of Supervisors, said there could be valid reasons why a city or county might want to restrict possession of knives. He also noted that law enforcement associations were opposed to the bill.
“They know their jobs,” he said.
The bill passed by a 5-3 vote. Chabin was joined by fellow Democrats Chad Campbell and Anna Tovar in opposing the bill. The committee’s five Republicans supported it.
The bill now moves to the Rules Committee for a constitutional check before it can advance to the House floor for consideration by the entire body.