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UNITED STATES CODE SERVICE

TITLE 15. COMMERCE AND TRADE
CHAPTER 29. MANUFACTURE, TRANSPORTATION, OR DISTRIBUTION OF SWITCHBLADE KNIVES


15 USCS 1241 (2002)

1241. Definitions

As used in this Act--

(a) The term "interstate commerce" means commerce between any State, Territory, possession of the United States, or the District of Columbia, and any place outside thereof.

(b) The term "switchblade knife" means any knife having a blade which opens automatically--
(1) by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle of the knife, or
(2) by operation of inertia, gravity, or both.

HISTORY:
(Aug. 12, 1958, P.L. 85-623, 1, 72 Stat. 562.)

HISTORY; ANCILLARY LAWS AND DIRECTIVES

References in text:
"This Act", referred to in this section, is Act Aug. 12, 1958, P.L. 85-623, 1, 72 Stat. 562, which generally appears as 15 USCS 1241 et seq. For full classification of such Act, consult USCS Tables volumes.

Effective date of section:
For the effective date of this section, see the Other provisions note to this section.

Short titles:
Act Oct. 27, 1986, P.L. 99-570, Title X, 10001, 100 Stat. 3207-166, effective 30 days after enactment on Oct. 27, 1986, as provided by 10004 of such Act, which appears as 15 USCS 1245 note, provides: "This title may be cited as the 'Ballistic Knife Prohibition Act of 1986'.". For full classification of this title consult USCS Tables volumes.

Other provisions:
Effective date of Act Aug. 12, 1958.Section 6 of Act Aug. 12, 1958, provided: "This Act [enacting 15 USCS 1241-1244; amending 18 USCS 1716] shall take effect on the sixtieth day after the date of its enactment [enacted Aug. 12, 1958]."

NOTES:

CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS
Customs warehouses, container stations and control of merchandize therein, 19 CFR Part 12.

CROSS REFERENCES
Nonmailable knives, 18 USCS 1716.

RESEARCH GUIDE

Am Jur:
55 Am Jur 2d, Monopolies, Restraints of Trade, and Unfair Trade Practices 886.

INTERPRETIVE NOTES AND DECISIONS
1. Purpose
2. Applicability

1. Purpose
Congressional purpose in enacting 15 USCS 1241 et seq. was to aid enforcement of state laws against switchblade knives and to bar such knives from interstate commerce; knife may be found to be switchblade knife if it can be opened automatically by hand pressure, inertia, or gravity after insignificant alterations, and one of its primary purposes is for use as weapon. Precise Imports Corp. v Kelly (1967, CA2 NY) 378 F2d 1014, cert den (1967) 389 US 973, 19 L Ed 2d 465, 88 S Ct 472.

2. Applicability
Act covers device which consists of handle which houses sharp-pointed metal shaft approximately 4 inches long which springs out of handle and locks into place when button or click located on handle is pressed. Bingham, Ltd. v Meese (1987, CA11 Ga) 817 F2d 98.
Customs Service rationally interpreted Act to apply to imported knives, described as folding knives with split handles, based on reasonable interpretation of Act. Taylor v United States (1988, CA6 Tenn) 848 F2d 715.
Balisong knives are not switchblade knives within meaning of 15 USCS 1241(b) and implementing regulation, where knives do not open automatically by force of gravity or inertia and require at least 2 manual operations even after blade is exposed, and thus customs officials are enjoined from seizing shipments of Balisong knives. Taylor v McManus (1986, ED Tenn) 661 F Supp 11.

15 USCS 1242 (2002)

1242. Introduction, manufacture for introduction, transportation or distribution in interstate commerce; penalty

Whoever knowingly introduces, or manufactures for introduction, into interstate commerce, or transports or distributes in interstate commerce, any switchblade knife, shall be fined not more than $ 2,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

HISTORY:
(Aug. 12, 1958, P.L. 85-623, 2, 72 Stat. 562.)

HISTORY; ANCILLARY LAWS AND DIRECTIVES

Effective date of section:
For effective date of section, see 15 USCS 1241 note.

NOTES:
CROSS REFERENCES
Exceptions from application of section, 15 USCS 1244.
This section is referred to in 15 USCS 1244.

RESEARCH GUIDE
Am Jur:
55 Am Jur 2d, Monopolies, Restraints of Trade, and Unfair Trade Practices 886.

INTERPRETIVE NOTES AND DECISIONS
1. Generally
2. Constitutionality
3. Applicability

1. Generally
15 USCS 1242 is criminal statute of general application, not provision of customs laws; therefore, Court of Appeals and not Customs Court had jurisdiction over action seeking declaratory judgment that certain knives were not switchblade knives. Precise Imports Corp. v Kelly (1967, CA2 NY) 378 F2d 1014, cert den (1967) 389 US 973, 19 L Ed 2d 465, 88 S Ct 472.

2. Constitutionality
Act, that was intended to prevent young gang members' use of switchblade knives for criminal purposes, does not violate due process and has reasonable basis. United States v Nelsen (1988, CA8 Minn) 859 F2d 1318.

3. Applicability
15 USCS 1242 covers foreign imports. Precise Imports Corp. v Kelly (1963, SD NY) 218 F Supp 494, later proceeding (1967, CA2 NY) 378 F2d 1014, cert den (1967) 389 US 973, 19 L Ed 2d 465, 88 S Ct 472.
Entry of miniature switchblade knives was properly refused by United States Customs Service pursuant to 15 USCS 1242 since knives in question, consisting of slim, stiletto-like blade that could spring open by slightly depressing button on handle, are clearly switchblade knives within meaning of statute. (1977, Cust Serv) TD 77-73.

15 USCS 1243 (2002)

1243. Manufacture, sale, or possession within specific jurisdictions; penalty

Whoever, within any Territory or possession of the United States, within Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18 of the United States Code), or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7 of title 18 of the United States Code), manufactures, sells, or possesses any switchblade knife, shall be fined not more than $ 2,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

HISTORY:
(Aug. 12, 1958, P.L. 85-623, 3, 72 Stat. 562.)

HISTORY; ANCILLARY LAWS AND DIRECTIVES

Effective date of section:
For effective date of section, see 15 USCS 1241 note.

NOTES:

CROSS REFERENCES
Exceptions from application of section, 15 USCS 1244.
This section is referred to in 15 USCS 1245.

RESEARCH GUIDE
Am Jur:
55 Am Jur 2d, Monopolies, Restraints of Trade, and Unfair Trade Practices 886.

Annotations:
Validity of state statute proscribing possession or carrying of knife. 47 ALR4th 651.

15 USCS 1244 (2002)

1244. Exceptions

Sections 2 and 3 of this Act [15 USCS 1242 and 1243] shall not apply to--
(1) any common carrier or contract carrier, with respect to any switchblade knife shipped, transported, or delivered for shipment in interstate commerce in the ordinary course of business;
(2) the manufacture, sale, transportation, distribution, possession, or introduction into interstate commerce, of switchblade knives pursuant to contract with the Armed Forces;
(3) the Armed Forces or any member or employee thereof acting in the performance of his duty; or
(4) the possession, and transportation upon his person, of any switchblade knife with a blade three inches or less in length by any individual who has only one arm.

HISTORY:
(Aug. 12, 1958, P.L. 85-623, 4, 72 Stat. 562.)

NOTES:

CROSS REFERENCES
This section is referred to in 15 USCS 1245.

RESEARCH GUIDE
Am Jur:
55 Am Jur 2d, Monopolies, Restraints of Trade, and Unfair Trade Practices 886.
Annotations:

Validity of state statute proscribing possession or carrying of knife. 47 ALR4th 651.

15 USCS 1245 (2002)

1245. Prohibition of possession, manufacture, sale, and importation of ballistic knives

(a) Whoever in or affecting interstate commerce, within any Territory or possession of the United States, within Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18), or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7 of title 18), knowingly possesses, manufactures, sells, or imports a ballistic knife shall be fined as provided in title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(b) Whoever possesses or uses a ballistic knife in the commission of a Federal crime of violence shall be fined as provided in title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not less than five years and not more than ten years, or both.

(c) The exceptions provided in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 4 with respect to switchblade knives shall apply to ballistic knives under subsection (a) of this section.

(d) As used in this section, the term "ballistic knife" means a knife with a detachable blade that is propelled by a spring-operated mechanism.

HISTORY:
(Aug. 12, 1958, P.L. 85-623, 7[5], as added Oct. 27, 1986, P.L. 99-570, Title X, 10002, 100 Stat. 3207-167; Nov. 18, 1988, P.L. 100-690, Title VI, Subtitle N, 6472, 102 Stat. 4379.)

HISTORY; ANCILLARY LAWS AND DIRECTIVES

Explanatory notes:
The bracketed designation "5" was inserted in the history of this section to indicate the probable intended designation of the provision adding this section.

Effective date of section:
For the effective date of this section, see Act Oct. 27, 1986 P.L. 99-570, Title X, 10004, 100 Stat. 3207-167, which appears as a note to this section.

Amendments:
1986. Act Oct. 27, 1986, as amended by Act Nov. 18, 1988, in subsec. (a), substituted "in or affecting interstate commerce, within any Territory or possession of the United States, within Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18), or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7 of title 18), knowingly possesses, manufactures, sells, or imports" for "knowingly possesses, manufactures, sells, or imports"; and in subsec. (b), deleted "or State" preceding "crime of violence".

Other provisions:
Effective date of amendments made by Act Oct. 27, 1986. Act Oct. 27, 1986, P.L. 99-570, Title X, 10004, 100 Stat. 3207-167, provides: "The amendments made by this title [adding this section and 15 USCS 1241 nt., and amending 18 USCS 1716] shall take effect 30 days after the date of enactment of this title.".

NOTES:

CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS
Customs warehouses, container stations and control of merchandise therein, 19 CFR Part 12.

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