WASHINGTON – A new federal rule that banned some imported folding knives might have been good for a Post Falls company. But Buck Knives, and its president, decided to fight it anyway and enlisted the Idaho congressional delegation’s help.
On Tuesday, CJ Buck and the Idaho delegation had a victory when the Homeland Security spending bill passed Congress with a clarification of a 1950s era law governing switchblades. The way that law was being interpreted changed this year, classifying spring-assisted knives as switchblades and banning their import.
Buck Knives prides itself on domestic production, so the rule would have little impact on its business. But CJ Buck said the rule’s vagueness could have meant more restrictive interpretation of American-made knives down the line. Rather than get a slight leg up on his competition, he chose to fight alongside his industry.
“Short term, this rule would have actually helped us by minimizing our competition,” he said. “But long term it would not be good for the industry. The beauty of being a family-owned business is you get to take a little longer-term perspective on things.”
Buck met with Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Rep. Walt Minnick to let them know the effect this would have on the industry, and all of them worked to change the rule. Minnick even drew some headlines this summer when he pulled a spring-assisted knife out of his pocket during a committee hearing to demonstrate the difference from a switchblade.
Minnick said that while he convinced the committee of the difference between the knives, leaders blocked his efforts to attach the language to a spending bill in the House. The Senate’s rules, however, are a bit more lax, and its version included the language in the Homeland Security spending bill.
“It’s a case of Homeland Security not understanding,” Minnick said. “They didn’t know they were sweeping up a much broader class (of knives) used by sportsmen.”