Wisconsin relaxes decades-old ban on carrying switchblades


You can now carry switchblades in Wisconson – but there's a slight catch.

At a gun owners' convention on Saturday, Governor Scott Walker signed into law a new bill reversing a decades-old ban on concealed switchblades, ABC 9 reports.

While you don't need a concealed carry permit to have a switchblade in your pocket, the law only applies if you are "legally able to own a firearm," according to the Associated Press

However, the bill does allow local governments to ban the weapons in public buildings such as courthouses, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

According to ABC 9, Walker said the reasons he signed the Republican-backed bill were "freedom, safety and heritage," as switchblades – which operate with the push of a button – are convenient to hunters, outdoorsmen, and even law enforcement who might need them in an emergency situation.

So why are switchblades illegal?

Switchblades, also known as automatics, have been legally regulated since the approval of the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958. According to the American Knife & Tool Institute, the act restricted importing and selling the knives across state lines, as well as mailing them through the U.S. Postal Service.

There is no outright federal ban on possession of the knives, the Institute points out, though each of the 50 states has its own laws regarding them.

Most states, according to this map, allow automatic knives with some restrictions. Two states require citizens who carry them to possess a weapons license, and in a handful of other states – including Minnesota – switchblades are illegal.

The reason switchblades are so tightly regulated is a murky issue that goes back several decades. According to tech blog Gizmodo, a backlash against the knives (which have been around a long time and used primarily for utilitarian purposes, the blog says) arose because of a public hysteria about 1950s street gangs and their supposed use of switchblades and other weapons.

Next Up

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins saves the day again to get Vikings to .500

Cousins' overtime toss to K.J. Osborn earned a 34-28 victory.

Nurses on strike

Nurses start 3-day strike at Allina WestHealth in Plymouth

A "last attempt" at negotiations failed to produce an agreement last Wednesday.

boating minnesota lake

Minnesota has experienced its deadliest boating season since 2005

Minnesota has seen 17 boating-related deaths so far this year.

Drew Doughty

Kirill Kaprizov makes Kings’ Doughty eat his words

The Kings defenseman isn't a fan of the Wild star's new deal.

Quinn Olson / UMD Hockey

Watch: UMD's Olson goes between-the-legs to set up highlight goal

Another Saturday. Another highlight for a Minnesota college hockey team.

Gopher Hockey

Watch: No-call lifts Gophers to OT victory over St. Cloud State

A blatant hook marred a top-four battle in St. Cloud.

Ambulance hospital emergency

Driver killed after crashing into parked semi-trailer

The crash occurred on the 5800 block of University Avenue Northeast.

Mike Zimmer

Vikings-Panthers: 5 things you can count on happening

The Vikings will look to open things up in Carolina.


Wisconsin legislator brings gun to Assembly, cites toxic atmosphere

Republican Bill Kramer, the leader of the state Assembly, says he's been carrying a concealed gun to floor sessions and feels he needs the weapon because of the toxic atmosphere surrounding state politics right now. The AP says protesters angry over Gov. Walker's union law have been harassing Republican lawmakers.